Yes We Can Go Forward and Believe in America! When did US campaign slogans become self-help mantras?

New Statesman:

Something’s happened to US campaign slogans. Something affirmative. Inspiring. Motivational. Yes! They’ve become self-help mantras.

Romney has his rather hectoring “Believe in America” and Obama the grammatically pointed “Forward.” – the much discussed full stop signifying, apparently, a mind set on its course. Last election, of course, we had the rabble-rousing chant “Yes, we can”. The tone now borrows from life coaches where it once borrowed from the advertising industry (“I like Ike”, “Keep cool and keep Coolidge”), and this time it’s much harder to oppose. Agreeing is not only right – it’s healthy!

This would be all very clever, but the trouble with life coaching is that it’s already been through several waves of cultural backlash. If a film features fairground music we know a grisly murder is not far off, and if a character recites motivational mantras, that is a character primed for gentle tragedy. In fact, I’m so damaged by the likes of Little Miss Sunshine and The Office that I can’t hear Romney’s slogan without picturing him saying it in front of a mirror (“I believe in America. I believe in myself. I am a strong, independent individual moving towards a better future”) before bursting into tears and eating Ben & Jerry’s straight from the tub.

Read the whole story: New Statesman

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