Pretty much all of the polls show that Barack Obama is ahead in the Presidential election. Though we’re still far away from ballots being cast, I was thinking earlier about what “change” means to me. About six months ago I posted about the danger of harping on change in an election – let’s see if my idea of change as dangerous holds up!
To me, change means living a better life in all aspects. Financial change means that that I will not have to be a slave to the workforce just to make enough money to get by in New Jersey. It means that I can continue to be a higher earner like I currently am, but that I won’t have $100,000+ in student loan debt holding me back from buying a house or starting a family. What good is a high paying job if you can’t use that extra income to advance yourself, your family, or your friends in society? I began to “change” this aspect of my life two years ago by sticking to a strict budget and I’ve been in good fiscal shape ever since. If I vote for Barack Obama will he pass a law that says college graduates with a 3.9 or 4.0 GPA will be forgiven from their student loans so long as they have gainful employment for a certain number of years? There are current policies in place that allow that, but they are 10 year plans and I don’t quite fit them. Will any change Obama makes be retroactive? That’s a change I’m looking for!
Speaking of money, change means that the value of the dollar will go up without more of my own dollars being funneled through Washington. Further, change means that I will not have to give up large percentages of my paycheck just to pay for gas.
Which brings me to environmental/societal change. If I vote for change then I expect alternative energy sources to be realities in the next four years. I expect that the next time I drive from New Jersey to Chicago or from New Jersey to Nashville I won’t see hundreds and hundreds of miles of nothing. There will be windmills generating clean power for thousands, possibly millions, of people. There will be hybrid, fuel cell, and hydrogen cars all over the road. That’s real change.
Voting for change means that I will no longer have to look at local school districts and see abysmal achievement rates. Going to school in the Asbury Park, Camden, or Newark public school system won’t be a matter of life and death, but rather a matter of choosing which college to attend at the end of your senior year. Why should going to school in an inner city mean any less of an education for students? Further, why should those students who live in small, rich suburbs have their parents’ property tax dollars moved from their district to an inner city district? Income redistribution is a socialist concept and not one worthy of America’s time. Change will occur when our education system pumps out scholars, scientists, and math geniuses instead of worker bees.
Immigration needs to be changed. If I vote for change I expect that the laws of my country will finally be respected since they are not respected now. I expect that we, as a country, will change our belief of “Multiculturalism as King” and instead join the rest of the world in their view of immigrants: they are to be welcomed, rejoiced over, and assimilated. Why America is afraid to assimilate its newest members is beyond me. Hell, most of these people know more about American history than those who are born here! And we can’t make English the official language of this country? If I vote for change, do I get to call English my official language?
What about law enforcement. When I was a college student members of the Ocean Township Police Department walked into my home at all hours of the night because they were, “just checking.” As a college student I had no way to combat this disgusting abuse of my and my roommates’ civil rights. Who do you call when the cops are the ones breaking the law? That’s just my story. What about the police officers who fire 50+ bullets into one person in less than ten seconds and aren’t punished for it? How does a candidate balance the idea of change with the knowledge that without standing behind law enforcement officials, he will lose the faith of those who are supposed to protect us? Can “change” achieve a healthy balance?
Think about all of these issues and think about what the idea of “change” means to you? Is it just a rallying cry (yes)? Or is there something concrete in YOUR life that you can point to and say, “Hey! If I vote for the change candidate I will benefit in this way: ____________.”
I’m just taking a shot in the dark here, but we’ve already talked about how the “new politics” doesn’t exist in this Presidential race and chances are the change candidate is nothing more than momentum and empty promises. Which gets to another point – who is making the promises?
With Obama running around saying change and yes we can, he’s making a brilliant political move. He’s wearing no face. In other words, the voters can see him in any light they wish! And how do voters define that light? By the issue of change in their minds. So I see a man who will help abolish student loans for those who graduate with near a 4.0 GPA while someone else sees a man who will change the inner cities by raising middle income taxes. Then there are the middle income people who see a candidate that will not raise their taxes and instead demand that those in the inner cities become more self-sufficient by refusing to continue government handouts and thus lowering the costs of government!
These are two diametrically opposed view points that Barack can point to and say, “Yes we can!” Well…no you can’t! It’s one or the other – you can’t have them both! As Joan Rivers said on Stern this morning, “What change? Show me the change already!”
Can a candidate really run on the idea of “change” and make the majority of his supporters happy? I don’t think so. That said, I still think we’re going to get Barack in the White House next January – he’s got the uncritical masses behind him who harp on Iraq and that’s all he needs to win the election.