Sunday, February 24, 2008


I listen to a lot of National Public Radio while driving for a living. During the week, they really do make an effort to at least appear even-handed. Come the weekend NPR really lets its hair down, relaxes and indulges its liberal bias unabashedly. A fine example is the "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" program. It is a humerous quiz show format putting to contestants questions on the week's headlines.

Overheard there, a line from panelist Paula Poundstone, "I haven't even asked a clerk to break a dollar in the last month, I am so tired of hearing the word 'change'".

"Change" as a campaign slogan is really a no-brainer. If any candidate for any office didn't want to change something, they could have saved themselves a lot of time and expense by re-electing the incumbent. Typically, it is used as a stand-alone term, and as such it is devoid of useful information. It taps into general dissatisfaction. The voter response it seeks is "Hey, I want to change things too, this guy is on my side". Note that that voter is often heard on sound-bite interviews declaring his support because "I feel X wants change, so do I". Shame the voter was never taught to "think" rather than "feel". Feelings are for Valentine's Day, thinking is for election day.

Ms. Poundstone was, of course referring to the Presidential campaign. Obama has had such success with "Change" that both Hillary and McCain are calling him to task for it. As even an Obama supporter, Juan Williams called it this morning, it has been "eloquent, but empty" rhetoric. Tactically, it is hard to fault Obama; goes to the axiom, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. As long as he can be all things to all people and still win, why would he want to paint himself into corners?

The problem is, once any candidate states any position, for a certainty there will be voters on the other side of any issue who will think (or feel) "Whoa Nellie, I didn't know you were for (or against) THAT!" Why alienate any voter before one is forced to?

I'm really not here to discuss the Presidential race, it has become so rich an example of my main point I had to use it. We are going to see candidates for several local offices tell us they want "change". Here is where your job as voter starts. Don't let them get away with it. If the press fails to "press" them, do it yourself. These are local people, they have phone numbers, they show up at forums, ask them, "What exactly are you going to change, how are you going to get it done, and if you can, what will you change it to?"

Personally, I am more likely to support a candidate with honest differences on specifics than I am to support some tap-dancing master of the art of ducking the question. I don't ask for 100% agreement, heck, I don't agree with me all the time. I've had the experience of looking up old essays, and tripping over something I penned a few years back I had forgotten. I end up sitting slack-jawed and thinking, "Oy vey, had a bad hair day then, eh what?"

Your vote really is important, if it weren't candidates wouldn't spend so much time and money trying to get it. Don't give that vote up for a firm handshake or pretty dental work. Make the candidate earn it. If you get a straight answer you don't totally agree with, consider whether the candidate is still worthy of support overall. If you get a dance-of-the-seven-veils, look for another candidate.

No comments:

Post a Comment