Tuesday, 29 January 2008

The Clintons as Greek tragedy

Political narratives work when they trigger familiar cultural stories, myths or archetypes in listeners’ minds. During World War II for instance, Winston Churchill used the narrative of “Britain: the strong island people” to rally the country against Nazi Germany. In so doing, he invoked an archetype that went back at least to the Spanish Armada.

There is much comment at the moment on Bill and Hillary Clinton’s dance with political death. The former president's attacks on Barack Obama have caused deep resentment in the Democratic Party.

An old story is there that people know well but can’t quite identify. Now, Gloria Feldt suggests that it is:

". . . the narrative of destroying that which one loves the most . . . one of humanity's most recurrent and heartbreaking tragedies, Greek or otherwise."

At the same time, Barack Obama’s narrative, based on renewal and a rejection of the old, is gaining more momentum.

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