“Change.” Voters say they want it. All the candidates seem willing to provide it. Even the “experienced” candidates who won the New Hampshire primary, Hillary Clinton and John McCain, have embraced it. It has become the mantra for this election.
On Saturday, in the Democrat debate sponsored by ABC News and Facebook, the word was used more than 70 times. It was used more sparingly in the Republican debate, a scant 26 times. However, on Sunday, the Republicans made up the difference in a forum on the Fox New Channel. The word came up another 54 times.
‘Change” is a word that obviously means different things to different people. Therefore, what the voters really want is not that easily defined. “Change” can be a verb, but it is also a noun. The voters are articulating the verb and the candidates are in hot pursuit. However, I believe that it is the noun we truly desire and the candidates are off on the proverbial wild goose chase.
In 1992, Bill Clinton got it right when focused, like a laser beam, on the economy. Voters weren’t really that concerned about the state of the nation’s economy – although we were just coming out of a recession. They were concerned about the state of their own personal economy – and so it is today.
What really motivates us to go to the polls is the “change” we believe a candidate is likely to leave in our pockets at the end of his or her term.
“Enough” can be defined as a little more than you have. Bill Clinton understood this all too well.
“It’s the economy, stupid!” was a sign that was prominently displayed in his campaign headquarters. The 2008 candidates – be they Democrats or Republicans would be wise to heed this lesson.
One of the changes voters on the far left want their candidates to bring about is to withdraw our troops from Iraq. They believe that the money saved will be spent on them. Therefore, at the end of the day, there would be more change in their pockets.
Another change they desire is socialized medicine. Call it what you will. They want the president to be doctor-in-chief. They want a health care chicken in every pot – one that is fat, tasty and virtually free. They haven’t stopped to consider that Medicare – the government program that provides health care for the nation’s senior citizens is going broke and, if it isn’t reformed, taxes will have to be raised drastically. They wrongly believe that if health care becomes a government benefit there will be more change in their pockets.
Lastly, those on the left believe that “I am poor (fill in your own definition of poverty) because you are rich.” To the left, the economy is a zero sum game. Therefore, they want to see more taxes on the rich because they believe that will mean still more change in their pockets
Conservatives from John F. Kennedy to Ronald Reagan understood that “A rising tide lifts all boats.” Conservatives want to keep taxes low for everyone. They have no desire to punish the rich, because they understand that when the rich are allowed to keep more of their money, they put it back into the economy, which creates jobs. Also, most conservatives believe it is within their power to attain wealth if the government will just get out of the way.
Conservatives also understand that our health care system may not be perfect, but it is the best in the world. What is needed to bring down costs, is more competition, not less.
Finally, the cost of freedom is expensive in blood and treasure. If we surrender to the terrorists in Iraq and abandon our peace-loving friends there, the terrorists will follow us home. We must have a military second to none and it is not necessary to bankrupt the country in order to do so.
Yes, the word “change” was used more than 140 times in the debates last weekend and it was always the verb, never the noun.
It’s possible, this election will turn on emotion and the candidate who makes us feel warm and fuzzy will get the majority of votes. But if one of the candidates will switch from the verb to the noun, he or she has a good shot at becoming the next president of the United States.
At the end of the day, the change we believe will be left in our pockets is the only change that really matters. Voters are reluctant to admit it. It sounds too self-serving, but that is the change we really care about.