How does one get to be the most powerful person in the most powerful country of the world?
Take a moment to imagine a hypothetical presidential candidate – what images does your brain come up with? Maybe it is someone smart and visionary, with great communication and execution skills. Maybe they are cunning and scheming and adept at amassing popularity.
Whatever the images are, continue that imagination some more. How long does it take for you to list out qualities your hypothetical candidate has, until you get to a point where you are listing not what they bring to the table, but what they’ve gotten (help , advantages or luck) ?
Now imagine yourself in some interactions with this candidate. What do you see? You posing questions and keenly listening? Autographs? Memorabilia?
How long does that imagination need to continue till you see yourself helping out this hypothetical person? Probably, a long while. In normal cases, it is difficult to fathom leader and person being helped as the same subject.
And yet, what made headlines last week was precisely that image.
“I ask you to carry her the same way you carried me.” – President Obama, DNC 2016, making the case for Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy.
Really? Do we need to carry someone to the most powerful position in the world? President Obama’s line may make more sense after checking out this quote –
“What the pupil must learn, if he learns anything at all, is that the world will do most of the work for you, provided you cooperate with it by identifying how it really works and aligning with those realities. If we do not let the world teach us, it teaches us a lesson.” — Joseph Tussman
The beloved President, also a master communicator, does a great job at aligning with the world’s realities in two ways – (a) realizing that society’s deeply rooted sub-conscious image of a woman is someone who needs to be helped. (b) realizing that, that narrative doesn’t fly in the context of the ridiculously powerful position that said woman is aspiring to.
So, he builds some association here – “carry her the same way you carried me.”
That reads: I am not going to remind you all of your biases because, of course, you will deny them if I do so. Instead, I will build up a case that requiring help to be in power is absolutely normal. I will do so by providing my association, and stealthily transferring the object of help from me to her.
“Time and again, you’ve picked me up. I hope, sometimes, I picked you up, too. Tonight, I ask you to do for Hillary Clinton what you did for me. I ask you to carry her the same way you carried me.”