The other night I attended the concert by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at the Verizon Center here in Washington, DC. Some people I know attach religious significance to Springsteen concerts. I think politicians have something to learn from Bruce, too.
I'm not talking ideology, though Springsteen's left-leaning politics are on display now more than ever. I am talking about the ability to connect with audiences on a deep emotional level.
The smartest strategists of my lifetime, from Lee Atwater to James Carville to Karl Rove, have always made plain that it's most powerful to connect with voters through their guts rather than their brains. This of course is true.
In other words, there's a reason Springsteen writes lyrics about the "head on collision, smashing in my guts man." He made his career speaking to the hopes and heartbreaks of blue collar America, and now speaks to a broader group than that. His resonance, and his obvious commitment to his audience, has earned him the sort of passionate following that fills arenas in Washington and other cities.
The politician who can replicate even a glimmer of that passion is rare and powerful. After losing the last two presidential elections, Democrats have been consulting message gurus in search of words with more emotional power. More than words, it is passion they need to reach what The Boss calls, as he did again on Sunday night, "The Promised Land."
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