Saturday, January 19, 2008

Obama, Reagan, Edwards, and the Nonsense of "Change"

We have been hearing a lot about change in this election, and in an America where growing majorities are unhappy with the president, the congress, the economy, and the war in Iraq, this should come as no surprise. Similarly, it should come as no surprise that in an era of unprecedented damage and potential damage from human activity, there would be a social trend towards doing and eating more "natural" things. But "natural" has become, in many minds, synonymous with "good", which is absurd considering that, oh I don't know, botulism, cyanide, mosquitoes and cactus needles are natural as well. Whatever problems we have with man made foods and products, there are plenty of natural foods and products that are far worse.

It seems now that some of us, and John Edwards in particular, have made the same mistake with regard to "change". He and other Democrats talk about change as if it is inherently good. Baloney! Pol Pot was change. So was astroturf. Change is not inherently good. Wanting change is not the same as wanting ANY change. So it is patently absurd for John Edwards, or any other politician, to go ballistic over Barak Obama talking about how Reagan "changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon [and] Bill Clinton did not...", simply because he didn't like what that change was. Whether you like the change he brought is a completely different issue from whether he brought change. This is akin to creationists who argue against evolution because they don't like the implications. Sorry, it's true or not, and it's change or not. Both Hitler and Ghandi were agents of change.

The real irony here is that this whole change thing has become for the the Democrats what Ronald Reagan is for the Republicans - a meaningless slogan to mention to get cheap applause, and to sound great while saying virtually nothing. The Democrats have been chanting "change, change, change" like a street corner bum (hat tip PJ O'Rourke). You could have a drinking game with "change" as the drink word and get hammered. Earth to politicians: George Bush is not going to be president in 2009, so we are getting change no matter who is elected. So you're for change. Great, I'm glad you are. Not a real out-of-the-box thinker are you? I'm sure you're for Mom, apple pie, and the children too. Who isn't? OK, I'm not, but I digress.

Enough already about change! Change is a certainty. At least when the Republicans talk about Reagan, we have some notion of what that means. "Change" means "not where we are now". Attaching meaning to it the way the Democrats are slinging it around is like finding a place based on the fact that it is "not Dallas". What sort of change? Has it been tried before? Why should the results be different this time? How are you going to implement it? And most importantly of all, how are you going to pay for it? In a time where we are swimming in record debt beyond what most of our puny brains can fathom, that should be the first question we ask about anything that is not a budget cut.

No comments: