The Math and the Tears

November 09, 2012

A lot has been said since Tuesday night about how "Math" won the election. Whether you're talking about The Church of Nate Silver or The Church of Jim Messina, a lot of people seemingly have found what they feel is the future of our Party.

I'm all for this movement to science in campaigns. After all, it was Obama's competency as a campaign organizer in 2008 that convinced many of us he'd be a great president. It's that competency that led him to hire a real FEMA director vs handing out the job to a buddy, or a Brownie, or a donor. In 2008, we made an argument that Obama was a smarter campaigner and therefore would be a smarter Administration. He is.

But, as we embrace the hard science of competent campaigns and administration -- as we hand power to those with big brains and powerful machines -- let's not leave empathy behind. 

This morning, a video was released of President Obama's speech to his campaign staff the morning after the election.

What's striking about this video (watch at least around 3:30) is how empathetic this man is. My friend Whitney Hess has done a much better job detailing how empathy played a role in this campaign, so I'll just add a few words of my own on this point:

President Obama has absolutely not been right on everything he's done, but I truly believe he has empathized with everyone he has touched. Even the people who disagree with him.

Obama's empathy is not the same as Clinton's infectious compassion or even Romney's impressive charity, but rather it's a trait that allows him to make extraordinarily tough decisions which end up being good for the future of this country: decisions where not everyone feels like they got what they wanted, but that feel like America and the World are headed in the right path.

And so, while we embrace Math as the future of how we win campaigns, let's not forget that empathy is how we should definite what we're campaigning about.

If we forget that, we'll end up like the other side, and who could feel for us then.