I am now a Michael Nutter fan. Regardless of your politics, you have to be impressed that someone in elected office can rock the mike as strong (if not better) than The Sugarhill Gang.
See how important first impressions really can be? For politicians, a first impression – and the first few days of an incumbent’s term – can set the tone for their entire administration. Nutter’s performance of Rapper’s Delight at this week’s Inaugural Ball does two things. First, it shows Philadelphia citizens that we have a strong, genuine leader who is not afraid to risk – to perform – and to succeed. Any success takes some risk, and Nutter is unafraid to dive headfirst into changing this city for the better. Nutter didn’t just promise change for Philadelphia – he declared a renaissance: “Ladies and gentleman, the renaissance period of Philadelphia got started about a half hour ago.”
Secondly, his rap performance gives us a glimpse into his authenticity. Today, more than ever, it is crucial for people in the public eye to be authentic in the age of viral video. Consider YouTube. Some argue that it is changing the face of political campaigns altogether. With Obama and Mitt Romney successfully using the viral video site to communicate their campaign messages, more and more politicians are realizing the need to keep up with the changing face of media and communications.
Nutter’s authenticity isn’t just illustrated in his rap, but also in his ability to bounce back after a failure. Notice how he fumbles the first couple of times? Does he stop? Is he embarrassed? Not even a little. He embraces an opportunity to improve and try again – chanting with the crowd, “Get it back, get it back, get it back…”
On Tuesday, Nutter spent the evening greeting thousands of people at City Hall, welcoming them to a new city. While the meet-and-greet was supposed to end at 8pm, Nutter stayed well past the scheduled time. Nutter expressed that he wanted Philadelphians to experience city hall rather than just see it from afar. Shaking hands, hugging supporters and waiting until the line that snaked around city hall to shorten, Nutter stood as a symbol of hope for the city.
It’s exciting to see Philadelphia’s new mayor bring energy and life into a city very much ready for change. And, hey, if his post as mayor doesn’t work out, he can always fall back on a career as a professional rapper…