OK, here we go again. As the candidates debate, those two words are “hot” once more. If my memory serves me, those same two words have echoed through each national election in my lifetime.
“What this country needs is change, not just more of the same old status quo!” “Send me to Washington – I’ll make sure things change! Even “Throw the bums out! Let’s change the way this government works!”
And the hoi polloi, the ordinary working folks, so busy and pressed with their daily jobs and debts and responsibilities, too busy to really research the candidate’s records and accomplishments, if any, respond “Yeah! That’s what we need – change!”
It sounds so good, so optimistic, so hopeful, so promising. If we can just sweep the do-nothings, the inept, the self-serving weasels, the career politicians out of office, we can start over with a clean slate, right? And we can bring in bright, young, handsome and sweet-talking people who say all the things we want to hear, and … and … uh … then what?
What will we change to?
Remember a peanut farmer from Georgia? A bright young first-term governor from a Southern state, unknown and unsophisticated, but a Navy veteran who said a lot of good things – and promised change? And who stunned just about everybody by being elected to the premier position of leadership in the world?
He was, and is, undoubtedly a good Christian man, with good intentions. But does anybody, anywhere, of any political persuasion, express the opinion that he was an effective president?
Remember his declaration that Americans should lower our expectations as we struggled through a “malaise,” a lessening of confidence in ourselves? Remember a tax bracket near 90 percent for top earners? I sure do. Remember his shocked awakening: “The Russians lied to me!” Remember the Iranian hostage crisis, when every night Ted Koppel counted the seemingly endless days our 73 American civilians had been held captive? And remember that the Ayatollah and the Iranian captors released every single captive when Ronald Reagan was elected, seeming to know that this new president was likely to make them wish they had done it if they didn’t?
By the way, I was pleased to travel to Plains, Ga., and to sing “Happy Birthday” to the former president on his 70th, and he is still my Christian brother. But I’ve been terrifically alarmed at his railing against Israel in writings and speeches, calling them aggressors and killers while they try to defend their homes and children from incoming rockets and incessant threats by militant Islamists to “drive them into the sea” … and out of existence! All this while, he is accepting millions from friends in Saudi Arabia for his foundation and sounding more and more like their pitchman. I’m truly mystified, especially since he is a student of the Bible and surely must be aware of God’s promises concerning Israel.
But my point is this: It’s one thing to cry “Change! Change!” … but it’s something else to be able to walk into Washington, dismantle a top-heavy, massive machine, stop all the things an entrenched bureaucracy has been doing for generations, send all the people who know how it works packing and then replace it any time soon with anything that even works as well! Especially when you’ve never done anything like it before!
Change will come alright, for sure; but the change may be far worse than what it replaced, and we won’t know till the damage has been done.
His worst enemies and critics acknowledged that Ronald Reagan, in his first 100 days in office, brought about such wholesale change in government, the economy, legislation of all types – all toward conservative promises he’d made – that it would take 10 to 20 years to reverse it all, if that were even possible. And that’s because the man had thought it all through carefully and specifically, told the American electorate what he’d do if elected, and then brought in capable individuals he could trust to help him actually do exactly what he’d promised.
But this is rare – extremely rare.
Too often, as we’re seeing it play out now, those who clamor for “change” are simply speaking in generalities, with words and phrases that we’d like to be possible, but with no real specifics on what, and how, and how much their “change” will cost the already beleaguered taxpayer. When I watch Obama, I see a tall, good-looking, intelligent and articulate man saying a lot of attractive things. But he reminds me of a winning high school oratory contestant – OK, maybe a college one – who has rehearsed his phrases and dramatic pauses for the final rounds of the big competition.
But can I see a man, who hasn’t even completed one term in the Senate, sitting down across from Vladimir Putin in Moscow, negotiating for our very future as a nation, hoping to convince him he’s not totally wet behind the ears? Would I feel much better knowing that a woman who’s known mainly as the wife of a controversial former president sitting down with Chinese and Iranian and Russian men, all of whom have vastly more experience – and similar, if not collectively greater, power? Would you?
Or, like me, will you not feel a lot more hopeful if our next president is a mature man – not a young intern or a mellow matron – who has been tested and proven by experience, disciplined by on-the-job training, tried by fire and opposition and complexity, and shown by his record to be an administrator, a legislator, a fixer and a doer? A man who doesn’t just glibly talk the talk – but who has walked the walk? A man who hasn’t just sired a child or two, but successfully raised a family and nurtured his wife? A man who understands the economy both as a taxpayer and one who has levied – and repealed – taxes? A man who knows how to hire experts to get important things done … and who fires them if they don’t?
In the New Hampshire primary, Sen. Obama evoked the example of Martin Luther King and his speeches of hope, claiming they produced “change”; and then Hillary Clinton reminded us that it was then-President Lyndon Johnson who rammed through the Civil Rights Acts and accomplished the “change,” through his legislative experience. Well, I agreed with both of them; it took both the call for change and the experienced leadership to make it happen – and in that case, it took two strong and influential people, neither of whom would likely have accomplished it without the other.
Wouldn’t it be nice to elect someone who can both see the need for various elemental changes, and have the necessary courage and know-how – the experience – to effect those changes? I know I wouldn’t want anyone to change my grandchild’s diaper if he or she had never done it before; I sure don’t want that person changing my government. Too much – way too much – is riding on that kind of “change.”