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April 16, 2011
Hope and Change? Yes, But Not in that Order
Those were the days, weren't they? The airwaves, the internet, billboards all touting a little known Senator's mantra of "Hope and Change." It was enough to send a tingle up your leg, or at least start you obsessing over creases in a presidential candidate's trousers.
Obama's political handlers created an absolutely marvelous slogan. Sadly, it was also first rate political nonsense. But, to be fair, they created something, purely by accident, that was almost right.
The key words - "Hope" and "Change" - are useful, but only if they are put in the right order. Hope is a fairly simple word to define, but with a caveat or two. Hope is "a feeling of desire for something and confidence in the possibility of its fulfillment." Obama generated the "feeling of desire for something" in 2008, and left the specifics of that desire to others. He was eloquent. He spoke at length about hope. He still speaks about hope.
Sadly, Barack Obama only addresses the first part of the definition. He does not address the second part, the "confidence in the possibility of its fulfillment" section. Today the majority of our citizens have no confidence that we will survive the economic nightmare that has been building for nearly 60 or 70 years since the well intentioned birth of Social Security. Ever increasing entitlement spending, ignoring the clear language and meaning of the rule of law as embodied in our Constitution, mindless partisan bickering, expounding on minutia while allowing critical issues to fester in the dark and a willful ignorance of the fears, dreams and aspirations of ordinary Americans has fueled the feeling among the "country class" that they can not have confidence that their desires will be fulfilled.
The Liberal/Progressive/Democrats continue, as they have since the days of FDR, to recite the same "solutions" again and again. Tax the "rich", allow the technocrats to tell you what to do and how to live, accept the supposition that you are not part of an exceptional nation and that our best days are in the past, and when caught in their hypocrisy, we are effectively told "Nothing to see here - move along now!" Their solutions never change. Ever.
Albert Einstein is often credited with this description of insanity:
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
The President offered the same thing, again, during his restatement of his original 2012 Federal budget plan. Spend more (which assumes that government is the sole generator of wealth in the country), tax more (which assumes that the total revenue for the government can be changed by the stroke of his pen) and the ever popular, reduce waste, fraud and abuse (unless that same waste, fraud and abuse funds a major political support group).
None of the President's ideas worked before, so can we have confidence that they will work now? So why should he believe, and preach, that they will work now? It sounds a frighteningly similar to Mr. Einstein's definition of insanity.
Now Mr. Obama never allowed "Hope" to stand alone in his political program. It was always followed by "Change". It seems, perhaps, that Mr. Obama and his political handlers got it backwards in 2008, and the opposition, in 2012, can correct that. The proper phrasing of the slogan should not be "Hope and Change", but rather, "Change, then Hope."
Change the Senate, change the House, and change the resident of the White House, with men and women who are willing to tell the American people, and the rest of the world, the bald, unvarnished and ugly truth that we are no longer able to sustain spending on the level we currently have. We can no longer afford government programs that are "nice to have" but not "need to have." We need to increase revenues for the government, not through increased taxation, but through increased national economic growth. We have to encourage entrepreneurs to "do their thing" and build more Microsofts, more Facebooks, and especially more domestic manufacturing.
Get those changes begun, and then there might be a reason for us to have "confidence in the possibility of" the fulfillment of our hopes. But change has to come first.
Jim Yardley is a retired financial controller, Vietnam veteran and libertarian (small "l"). Jim blogs at http://jimyardley.wordpress.com/, or he can be contacted directly at firstname.lastname@example.org