A while back, in the midst of campaign fever, my son and I were running some errands in town when he spoke up. “That’s odd,” he said. I asked him what he was talking about and he pointed to a small blue car ahead of us. “There’s a Prius without an Obama sticker on it.”
He was right. It was odd. In the months leading up to the election, we had gotten used to seeing such nearly perfect alignment of signs and symbols that it seemed only natural to expect to see those two things together. This kind of synergy was something that McCain — neither the candidate nor the campaign — could pull off.
Clearly, the Obama campaign — the Obama movement, I should say, for it seems more like that than a mere campaign — found an effective way to harness people’s desire for something different, found a way to capture the support of a broad sensibility. And that support was expressed very, very well in signs and symbols.
Now, of course, the election is over, and those signs and symbols have to be translated into a legislative agenda that will deliver the change they promised to bring, something that will reinforce what so many took to be the logical connection between the Prius bumper and the Obama sticker. And there can be little doubt that our new president will have a very different legislative agenda when it comes to energy and the environment.
But legislative agendas are one thing. This possibility feels like something very different. The greening of the White House? Think about the possibilities here for a minute. In some ways, this is a far cry from rallying around signs and symbols — whether they are rainbow ribbons or flag lapel pins. After all, even though the White House is probably the most widely recognized symbol of the presidency, it is still one family’s house. And if the president is going to suggest that I consider greening my house, I guess I’d be much more likely to do so if I saw that he was greening his.
Of course they say he may have to give up his BlackBerry, too, but I don’t know too many people who would be willing to go that far — even if it was for the good of the country.