The candidates for President of the United States present themselves as the leaders who will bring “change” to American political institutions, to the way we manage the domestic affairs of the nation, to how we handle our foreign affairs.
Overused and underspecified, “change” has become a political cliché, a trite, stereotyped expression, designed to give weight to the most innocuous proposals that do not modify the form, nature, or content of our politics by making it different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone.
The leading candidates of the Democratic and Republican parties are carefully playing in the political center, the Democrats slightly to the left,, the Republicans slightly to the right, both avoiding challenges to the military and business interests, the dominant elements in superpower America. In our representative government, authentic Democratic change would respond to the demands of their basic constituencies, labor and liberals. Republican change would heed the business interests. Instead, they emphasize bringing the nation together with programs that satisfy the lowest common denominator.
The problems of the present system are discussed ad infinitum, but only mini – modifications of current practices are offered. Nevertheless, they are hyped as solutions, as “change”, for policies that are not working on Iraq, healthcare, immigration, etc.. The only candidates offering real change, meaning entirely new approaches to these issues are Republican Ron Paul and Democrat Dennis Kucinich. Paul would control the all-powerful military- industrial complex and restrain presidential power. Kucinich would end military adventures like Iraq and restrain dominant business interests. They would be authentic changers of the U.S. political system but neither has any chance of election. Does that mean that the voters do not want real change, but only the appearance of change?
With some justification, Americans are often accused of being faddist, fascinated by the latest toy, invention, song, thought, philosophy, and religion. So political sloganeering of “change,” even without specifics or content, has a comfortable temporary appeal. But in order to make a significant difference in the lives of Americans, “change” must challenge the dominant powers in society to keep them relevant to public needs. Otherwise, it is a mere slogan, tempting the masses with implied promises, avoiding real change, signifying nothing but political bankruptcy.