Geraldine Ferraro tells a story of her failed effort to unseat Ronald Reagan, and the moment she knew she never would.
The Democrats had always owned the unions. It was something they considered their birthright, (and still do). Yet, despite the fact that pretty much everything in his platform spelled doom and pain for the unions, Reagan had managed to steal them away from the Democrats.
On behalf of the Mondale campaign, Ferraro was meeting with some mid-level union officials to try and bring them back into the fold.
So she asked the union leaders why the heck they stayed with Reagan when everything he did weakened the union. What they told her was that Reagan made them feel...proud to be an American again.
Ferraro said, at that moment, she knew it was over and she would never beat Ronald Reagan.
I think that's a lot of what happened with McCain. Even though he had some persuasive arguments, in the end, he could never make people feel about themselves the way that Obama did.
There's two things you want to do in politics to be successful. First you want people to feel good about your candidate. That's fairly obvious. More important than that though, you want people to feel good about themselves and if you can connect those good feelings about themselves to good feelings about your candidate then your campaign becomes an unstoppable force.
That's what made the Obama campaign so strong. That was the brilliance of the "yes we can" message. It made people feel even more strongly about themselves than they did the candidate.
Even if you didn't vote for Obama, you have to recognize how that feeling of empowerment, that self confidence that came from the Obama win is good for America.
America grew stronger during the Reagan years, not because of Reagan, but because of the way people felt about themselves and about their country. The same thing is possible with Obama. Even if you didn't vote for him, this can still be a very good time for you and for the country.