Thursday, March 06, 2008

Obama: The Problem With Change

I've been giving some thought to Barack Obama's sloganeering. The one that has me intrigued and the one I think is going to bite him in the rear in the general election is his focus on "change". Change is a very charged word. Most people don't like it and it's easy to see why. Have you heard or said this:

"Why do I have to change? Why can't I be accepted just as I am?"

And there's another thing: Change always sounds good to young people. Change doesn't sound so appealing to people who have seen what change can mean. Also, as people age, the notion of following a Messianic leader holds less appeal. When the same ideas have been trotted out for generations, the reality of how much transformation a government can take becomes apparent. And short of a revolution, we've come to expect little change.

In fact, most people don't want change at all. They want the things that bug them tweaked. The American style of governance is to have different personalities, different ideological stances, different policies, and different platforms, but every four years, it's the same. The President struggles to get legislation passed from his platform. Congress bucks him for spite or because their constituency hates it. Judges die. They're replaced. Confirmation hearings are ridiculous and partisan. And on and on..... Things don't really change and people are comforted by that. We all know what to expect.

The Anchoress absolutely hates this latest ad for Obama where the actors are chanting Obama, intoning it over and over, like some drug-crazed zombies from a Twilight Zone episode. It is disturbing in that it is almost a parody of the Apple commercial where the mindless drones support Hillary. In this case, though, the Obama supporters are beyond irony:

The Anchoress says about it,"I’d bet real money that the people chanting “O-bam-a” have probably been repulsed in the past by chants of “USA! USA!,” too." Ann Althouse has this to say:

Chanting the candidate's name? The people in this video are — most of them — swooning and sleepwalking. "I just want this war to end" — they sound like children. Nice, polite, pretty children. Much sweeter than back in the days when I was young and it seemed like a good idea to yell "We want the world and we want now," but just as juvenile.
Well, that's just it. The whole campaign feels juvenile. The word "change" seems juvenile. Change for change sake is stupid and naive. What are we going to be changing to? So far, Obama has been short on those ideas and big on making everyone feel better about hope.

Obama will need to show some maturity and demonstrate some (and now I loath this word) gravitas. For all the press ganging up on George W. Bush, at least he had executive experience over a big state. And still, he has been dismissed as a light weight. Now, the press has a literal light weight. Obama's job will be to convince us of his gravity and depth. His mesmerizing oratory skills won't be enough to convince old people to vote for him.

Some changes just seem too risky.


carol said...

What's really weird is that the enviro-whackos clearly hate change - deforestration, subdivision, new highways.

But I think it's just a convenient code word for no more Bush-Clinton, a much smaller project than unleashing the demons of socialism.

Melissa Clouthier said...


I think you're right. The modern "progressive" movement is anything but. They tend to be reactionary and holding on to some idealized, agrarian society. And socialism is really an outgrowth of that. And it never succeeds because of it's idealized view of human nature.

Anonymous said...

... every four years, it's the same. The President struggles to get legislation passed from his platform. Congress bucks him for spite or because their constituency hates it. Judges die. They're replaced. Confirmation hearings are ridiculous and partisan. And on and on.....

This is what's so frustrating to me about politics. They spend all this time and money to get us to vote, and nary a difference gets made. I doubt a positive change is going to happen. I hope for it, but I doubt. -HKH

David said...

The modern "progressives" are indeed reactionary, but I think they are different from, and in some ways worse than, the old-line socialists. Marxism was a bastard child of the Enlightenment: there is much about today's "progressivism" that is counter-Enlightenment.

Anonymous said...

Only on the naive surface does "youthful change" seem like it is "for chang's sake."

A pretty face mouthing such words is most often dangerous:

Anonymous said...

I bet none of you have ever actually seen and heard Obama speak live. You can't judge or make up opinions against someone just because of media slander and the overall negativite/close-minded tone of this column and responses. Why is everyone so scared and skeptical?
Do you really want things to stay the way they are?
There's nothing bad about it. No one is being disciminated against.
Obama supports people, all people. And it isn't just change for change's sake, like I said, clearly you haven't listed or tried to understand any of his policies and plans.
However old I get I will never become a pessimist and scared of change. You all sound like children to me.

Anonymous said...

Boo. I'm a progressive. and I'm young too. Better watch out! I just may have too much of an open mind and say things that scare you.
Oh, and watch out for change too. That's really scary. I know you're all terrified of that one. And you know what? There are a lot of us. Millions. And no matter how much you complain about us we won't go away. We are educated and motivated. We volunteer and help people. We are accepting-but not of close-minded people such as yourselves. You know what change we all want? Your rude and negative outlook on anything new and important to others. Have you even heard Obama speak in person? Don't judge until you've seen it for yourself. You really don't know anything just from the media and blogs like this. You all sound like scared little children whose parents told them that progressives are scary monsters that hug the trees and run around wild changing everything. AHHH! Quick, close your mind so they don't get to you! And complain a lot about it too.
If you are anti Obama
you are anti human.
He's pro everybody. Everyone in this country needs help. it's rough for us all.
And quit your whining and blaming, it makes you sound uneducated.

Melissa Clouthier said...

I'm all for new ideas. I'm all for better ideas. I'm all for racial reconciliation--which I think has largely occurred.

"He's [Obama, ed] is pro everybody." What does that mean exactly? And if I'm anti-Obama, I'm anti-human? Huh?

There is no question that Barack Obama is the most personable, interesting candidate. I like him. His oration is impressive. I have heard him speak. Giuliani is another one who has the ability to wow the crows.

But these traits do not a President make, necessarily. What I don't like about Obama is not personal, it's policy. His stances on nearly everything worry me. I simply disagree with his philosophy and ideas, while liking him as a person.

I think it's his teary-eyed supporters who need to listen a little to the content of Obama's speeches. They seem utterly overwhelmed by his form--kinda like teenage girls at a Beatles concert. Who's immature again?

Anonymous said...

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