The History of Yes We Can seems to start with Allen Toussaint and the first artists who recorded it. Lee Dorsey made a record of it in 1970. It was co-produced by the song’s writer Allen Toussaint. The Pointer Sisters version, in 1972, was a big hit.
In 1972, the great César E. Chávez started to use “¡Si se puede!” as his slogan to organize the farm workers. This translates to something that’s very similar to “yes we can!” I’m not sure whether Chavez was inspired by the song or if the idea was just in the air.
In 2008, Barack Obama used “Yes We Can” as his campaign slogan. I think that he was inspired both by the song and by Chávez.
It’s a classic slogan. Yet mindless or misdirected “positivism” can be a dangerous thing. We need to think carefully about which battles we fight. Then we need to devise impeccable and true strategies within each battle. Then, it’s like “All bets are off!”
The underdog can wear down or outsmart the overdog. It happens again and again. Sometimes it takes a long time though. Persevere! Don’t Quit! Never say die! We can do it, yes we can!
The slogan has also been used in promoting home canning:
“The fundamental cause of trouble in the world today is that the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.” Bertrand Russell
This post is dedicated to my brother Dennis on his birthday.