I’m by no means a political analyst or expert or even hobby-est. Truth be told, I hate politics. I think the American two-party system is stupid. It encourages most people to declare an allegiance to one side or the other and then each side tries to convince its members that the other is evil incarnate.
Not the greatest way to get everyone to work together toward the common good of society, eh?
But anyway! I wanted to talk about Obama. When you think about the Obama presidential campaign, the first thing (and maybe only thing) you think of is probably this:
Seriously, Obama’s marketing director was brilliant, whoever that was. S/He turned the candidate into a logo. A hip, edgy, funky, retro logo that was perfect for splashing across t-shirts, tote bags, and bumper stickers.
BUT! In my opinion, the campaign manager also made a critical mistake with the catch phrase for the campaign: change.
Myth: “People Don’t Like Change”
Folks who work in organizational development will tell you that people don’t like change. I respectfully disagree. To some extent.
Studies HAVE shown that we don’t like change when we it means an uncertain future for us, and we’d be happy with the status quo a lot of times because it’s comfortable and familiar. This is why so many women keep returning to abusive relationships. We’re comfortable with the familiar.
But, when something’s bad and we know it and we know what would be better, I think we’re more than happy with change. You’re walking home in damp clothes and below-freezing temperatures when a friend offers you a ride home in a warm car? Change my situation, please! Heck yeah, I’m climbing in the back seat.
By choosing the word “change” as the catch phrase for the Obama campaign, the campaign manager – whether realizing it or not – basically gave this message:
Are you unsatisfied with some part of your life? Do you think the government is to blame for that part, or that the government could fix that part? Vote for Obama! We’ll change it!
Dissatisfaction is universal. Is there anyone that is 100% happy with their life? If you raised your hand you’re a liar. And you know what happens to liars according to Revelation 21:8, right?
We all have SOMETHING we’d like to change. So put a man in front of us telling us he’ll change things, and we want him in office!
Problem #1: We can’t agree on what should or shouldn’t be changed.
Some people want more government control while others want less. Some people think the income tax levels are fine right now while others don’t. Some people want gay marriage to be legal and others don’t.
So if you run on a platform of change, you can’t please everyone. Not even near everyone because let’s say I want gay marriage to be legal and I also want lower income taxes. If you make gay marriage legal but raise income taxes, it doesn’t even out like in mathematics. The net result is that even though I got something I wanted I’ll still end up mad at the government.
Problem #2: Life (and government) exists in a balance, so if you push on one side it’ll poke out the other.
There was a great example of this in my local election recently. Under the platform of “controlling government spending”, there was a proposal for massive tax cuts. Sounds nice, right? We’d all like more money in our pockets and the government to spend our money more responsibly. The problem – that, thankfully, many people realized – was that these tax cuts wouldn’t fix government spending. Instead they’d result in massive cuts to essential services. Like, say, police.
In my opinion, cutting taxes won’t fix government spending any more than adding salads to the menu at McDonalds will improve people’s eating habits. You need to look deeper at the root of the problem, and that’s not something that can be fixed quickly.
So when we demand change, we don’t realize what we’re asking and that many intelligent people – yes, I do believe there are some of those that work in government – have spent years trying to achieve a perfect balance so everything doesn’t spin out of whack. It’s like people who want more health insurance coverage at a lower premium. You can’t have both!
Problem #3: The president doesn’t have as much power as we think he does.
At least from my understanding of our government.
The founding father created a check and balances system so that nobody has ultimate power. Like declaring war is an act of congress, not the whim of a president.
And correct me if I’m wrong (it’s been a while since middle school civics) but the president doesn’t get to make laws. He gets to sign them once they go through congress and land on his desk. But even if he vetoes them they can go back to congress who can go through a process to get them passed anyway. Am I remembering this right?
Of course, that’s not to say that the president doesn’t have some influence.
The point being that checks and balances prevent the president from having too much power. So if a candidate is elected on a platform of “I will immediately dismantle the supreme court”, unless there’s some military firepower behind him (in which case we’re talking about a radical overthrow of the government system) it ain’t gonna happen.
So for us to put our faith in a president with the idea that he’ll be able to change all of the stuff that’s wrong is naive. In many ways, he’s a figurehead. Our country’s face to other nations, and the government’s face to us.
Problem #4: It takes a long time to turn a big ship with a little rudder.
Change doesn’t happen overnight. You think healthcare reform (REAL reform) will happen within one presidency? You’re nuts. Just consider for a moment that of a four year term the first probably at least six months is getting your feet under you and the last twelve months is campaigning for re-election. How much time does a president have to DO anything? With eight years, maybe.
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So when I hear concern about Obama’s approval ratings, I’m not surprised at all.
Why did I vote for Obama? I think he inspired and united a lot of people. And I think that’s a good thing and something our country needed. I thought he would make a good figurehead which is, ultimately, what I think our president mainly is.