09 January 2008

"Change" is in the Air

For all the talk about change – the need for change, being a change agent – during the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primaries, it appears that there isn’t a clear picture of what change means to the candidates. Both the Democrat and the Republican results were not what was expected, necessarily, and that seems especially true in New Hampshire.

Senator Obama rolled into the state on his “change” train, ready to sweep out with another victory, and one by double digits. He lost. I still haven’t figured out what he means with his overuse of the “change” term, and it seems that perhaps some voters are starting to want answers to what change means for the Senator as well. Not that Senator Clinton has said a great deal about what change means to her, but whatever the folks heard, they gave her about 39% of the vote because of it.

Perhaps on the Democrat side, change really means that voters don’t necessarily buy into what they’re told is “inevitable,” especially when that “inevitability” is created by either a campaign or the media.

On the Republican side, Governor Mitt Romney hopped on the change bandwagon with his “Washington is broken” position. I would hazard a guess that most people believe that position, given Congressional and presidential disapproval numbers. Gov. Romney even has some specifics on how he would change Washington. His arguments can be convincing, though some may be put off by him donning his CEO hat.

His message of change, however, didn’t create a full rebound, as he lost in New Hampshire, where Republicans and independents leaned to Senator McCain, who, incidentally, talks quite a bit about change without (to my knowledge) touting the “change” term overly.

It is natural, I suppose, for candidates to push the change message in this campaign. None, it seems, wants to be closely associated with President Bush – except for the tax cuts on the Republican side. Bush is currently an unpopular president, so one would think that the change message would resonate. And perhaps it does, but it has to be followed up with substantial plans, and the sooner the better. Anyone can promise change. Having a vision and a plan to go along with the word takes real effort.

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