I suspect very few of you watched the debate Saturday evening, giving that it was a Saturday night and playing opposite a football game. Regardless of your politics, one big idea stuck out that applies to everyone, and not just politicians. It’s the idea of change.
A good chunk of both debates involved the candidates, particularly the Republicans, arguing with each other about who is best equipped to bring about change. According to Gov. Mitt Romney, during Saturday’s debate:
“…this is a time when America wants change. Washington is broken. That was the message coming out of Iowa. I’ve heard it across the country. Washington is broken. Not just the White House, not just Congress—Washington can’t get the job done on immigration, on lowering taxes, on fixing schools, on getting health care, on overcoming radical jihad. They want change.” (link)
In case your wondering, we want change. I shouldn’t poke too much at Romney, but I think he’s missing an important point. When it comes to change, actions speak louder than words, and his actions are making it easier for people to wonder about his rhetoric on change. Then, as candidate Giuliani points out:
“…change is a concept. Is it change for good or change for bad?”(link)
In the real world, I believe many people abhor change, otherwise, I can’t believe they’d continue to vote for the same people that make a mess of things in Washington, D.C., but perhaps that more of a lesser of two evils issue. Any time I hear a political candidate, or anyone for that matter, tout themselves as standing at the forefront of change, I cringe a bit. For me, change is one of those things that you either do or you don’t, so why waste time talking about it?
For example, while I have mixed emotions about Apple as a company, they continue to produce products that change things. The business world seems more comfortable with true change than the political world. I would place very few politicians in the category of being true change leaders. Historically, we know who the great changers in politics were—the Founding Fathers, Lincoln, Roosevelt (both of them)—and it’s highly doubtful we’ll see their like again given how we currently elect officials.
I not sure when or where I heard it, but I do remember being told that it takes three weeks to form a habit, but at least twice that to break one, if you ever do. That’s why I find rhetoric focusing on change so interesting. As change is described, both in politics and everyday life, I have my doubts that society could truly withstand it if all described changes were enacted. I think there would be a large number of mental breakdowns if suddenly everything changed, but that doesn’t keep politicians or CEOs from touting the value of change.
Respect for Change
I’m not opposed to change, but I would prefer that it be spoken about honestly instead of thrown about casually in a stump speech. For all that we talk about it frequently, I think we overlook how important and big change can be, and its impact on our lives. Just consider some of the “minor” changes that happen in our lives.
For good or bad, starting a new job is a huge change that can be mentally draining—meeting new people, learning new systems, creating new routines to name a few. The same thing happens when you move to a new place. It doesn’t matter if it’s better than the old one. You’re still living through a change that requires adjustments. Now, just imagine people’s reactions if they suddenly woke up and had a government that truly changed every time there’s an election. I wonder if the country could continue to run.
My recommendation? Take the talk about change lightly and focus on the people who are actually doing something different. And maybe consider having more respect for the power of true change, because I believe the good kind is an endangered species.