Designing hope: Campaigner vs. president

Whatever you think of Obama as a president he is an excellent campaigner — these two things are very different in many respects. Being a good president is about getting policies through, getting what you want, knowing when to compromise and when to be obstinate. Obama has not been terribly impressive in this respect. He has gotten some of his policies through and has improved the lives of many Americans but too often he has compromised on his campaign promises and goals. The Obameter ( is a nice demonstration of this. But as a campaigner Obama is hard to out do.

Campaigns are about a feeling, not about results. If you can make people feel inspired and hopeful and that their lives will be better with you in office and that they can feel better about their country with you as its leader then you will win. Full stop. There are many ways to make people feel that way, which is part of why campaigns are interesting. Obama may be a mediocre president but he knows the right words to say and the right way to say them. His campaign is beautiful. Actually truly beautiful. His website is well designed and his Tumblr is a haven for those who love good infographics. Even if you don’t like design the number of sleek and sharp infographics posted on Obama’s Facebook right after Paul Ryan was announced speak to this style of campaign.

Part of his social media success is that people like him. If you can inspire people then they will get behind you. Simply having a well-run social media campaign is not enough.

Obama has the campaign down, now hopefully he will get the chance to work on the president thing a bit more.


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