There are always a number of infectious and completely arbitrary ideas floating around electoral politics. Most have a hugely temporal quality; they last only until the next contest, primary, debate proves them no longer useful. The most prescient of these in the current race for the Democratic presidential nomination, for example, is that of “Change” (I capitalize it here to stress its catch-all quality, but one may see it printed in any number of fonts and formats, depending on the strategists behind its presentation).
After the exit polls in Iowa registered this particular and wholly abstract concept as the number one reason for Obama’s victory, it was a complete fucking free-for-all as to determine who had the greatest commitment to shoving the term down the throats of all watching or listening to any candidate speak. All had signs printed that featured the word itself prominently. Barack, hoping to capitalize completely on the apparently very Iowan notion that he represented the personification of Change itself (though, the good or bad specifications of said change were not specified), changed the entire motto of his campaign to “Change We Can Believe In.” No one, to my knowledge, has pointed out to the Senator that the proper way to arrange this credo would be “Change In Which We Can Believe,” as the aforementioned ends with a preposition. In a campaign appearance preceding the New Hampshire Primary, Clinton began a lengthy answer question and answer session with by assuring the crowd that she “want[s] to give you a president who will give you change you can count on.”[i]
Unfortunate grammatical errors aside, one can certainly appreciate the straightforward and value-neutral aspects of these phrases. After all, I for one “believe” very strongly in he existence of negative change, as in Change For The Worse; it does, in fact, seem to be the most prevalent sort. Nonetheless, the term began to inundate the field so entirely that even George W. Bush was heard to make a valuable point when he observed that change in inherent in any campaign, as political and social situations themselves are by nature dynamic (I have paraphrased here so as to avoid being forced into any more digressive musing on improper syntax, the probability of which, with a Bush quotation, is akin to that of Dennis Kucinich pulling out of a Presidential race in time to try to keep his job as U.S. Representative). I actually half-expected to see a candidate, at the emotional acme of his or her speech, make pennies rain down from the ceiling of some New England town hall, a là Gob Bluth in Arrested Development: “YOU WANT CHANGE?!?!?!?.”
[i] See immediately preceding comments on grammatical issues concerning Obama’s slogan.