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Change?

07 Nov

By Joel McDurmon—11/7/2008

The anointed leader took the podium and proclaimed the message that a hopeful America—an America pleading for change—longed to hear: “Yesterday, the people went to the polls and they cast their vote for a new direction. . . . I’m confident that we can work together. I’m confident that we can overcome the temptation to divide this country between red and blue.” You heard it yourself, didn’t you?

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The great surprise: those are the words of President Bush. Perhaps you thought I was quoting Obama’s well-publicized comments from Tuesday night, where he said, “we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.” However, speaking after the 2006 mid-term elections during which “it’s clear the Democrat Party had a good night,” Bush emphasized the need for change and for changing the tone in Washington. OK, you say, Bush would say that after losing a Republican majority in congress. He had to pretend he wanted to compromise. Maybe so. But he had the exact same message six years earlier in 2000 when he gave his own original victory speech: “Here, in a place where Democrats have the majority, Republicans and Democrats have worked together to do what is right for the people we represent. . . . I’m optimistic that we can change . . .”[1]

And yet screams of victory once again hail a new “historical” moment in America, that “we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America. . . . change has come to America.”[2] These are the words of Barak Obama-not so much different from Bush’s. So what exactly changes besides the people in office?

The new leader claimed that his election represented the voice of “an America that is united in our diversity and our shared American values that are larger than race or party.” Now don’t fall for the same trick twice-these are the words of Bush again. Yet Obama now claims that his election represents a “defining moment” in America that represents the “It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled.”

Since Americans have such short political and historical memories, let’s compare the victory speeches of Bush in 200o with Obama in 2008. You may get confused somewhere in the midst as to who said what. I have labeled their respective quotations to further clarify, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Bush: “I’m optimistic that we can change the tone in Washington DC. I believe things happen for a reason, and I hope the long wait of the last five weeks will heighten a desire to move beyond the bitterness and partisanship of the recent past. Our nation must rise above a house divided. Americans share hopes and goals and values far more important than any political disagreements. Republicans want the best for our nation. And so do Democrats. Our votes may differ, but not our hopes.”

Obama: “America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you, we as a people will get there. . . . Let’s resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let’s remember that it was a man [Lincoln] from this state [Illinois] who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House, a party founded on the values of self-reliance and individual liberty and national unity. Those are values that we all share. . . . while we breathe, we hope.”

Bush: “. . . we as a nation will move forward together, as one nation, indivisible. And together we will create an America that is open, so every citizen has access to the American dream.”

Obama: “In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people. This is our time . . . to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one.”

Bush: “I know America wants reconciliation and unity. . . . I’m optimistic this can happen. Our future demands it, and our history proves it.”

Obama: “Our union can be perfected. What we’ve already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.”

Bush: “I was not elected to serve one party, but to serve one nation. The president of the United States is the president of every single American, of every race and every background. Whether you voted for me or not, I will do my best to serve your interests, and I will work to earn your respect.”

Obama: “to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president, too.”

Bush: “We’ve discussed our differences; now it is time to find common ground and build consensus to make America a beacon of opportunity in the 21st century. . . . Two hundred years have only strengthened the steady character of America. And so as we begin the work of healing our nation, tonight I call upon that character. Respect for each other. Respect for our differences. Generosity of spirit. And a willingness to work hard and work together to solve any problem.”

Obama: “There are many who won’t agree with every decision or policy I make as president. . . . I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And, above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation, the only way it’s been done in America for 221 years.  . . . It can’t happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice. So Let us summon a new spirit . . .”

More: “To our enemies, do not be joyful. Do not confuse the workings of our democracy with a lack of will. Our nation is committed to bringing you to justice,”[3] Bush promised. Yet Barak announces, “To those who would tear the world down: We will defeat you,” and he is greeted with cheers as if he preached something revolutionary.

You get the picture. “Change,” is inevitable-as far as the person in office goes—but the rhetoric remains constant. So will the partisanship; only it will be even more radical than before. You should ask yourself the question, If this guy’s rhetoric is so similar to the last guy’s (and to every other president’s for that matter), what makes you think he’s different?

Obama promises “progress”-which can only mean progress according to his agenda-and some of the media even claim that liberals now have a “mandate.”[4] You can count on them pushing a radical leftist agenda with their newly secured power in the White House and Congress. Obama has long since promised that “the first thing I’d do as President is Freedom of Choice Act.” This Act would remove all federal and state limits on abortion.[5] There is not much more radical than that.

If you believe the road ahead includes this great harmony of red and blue cooperating to achieve some vaguely vaunted “dream of our founders,” then the greatest surprise is yet to come. The next two years could very well be a liberal steam-rolling of legislation (though wise advisors are warning against too much radicalism too early). It’s payback time, and Barak says, “It’s been a long time coming.”


[1] “Bush: ‘I will give it my all,’” guardian.co.uk, December 14, 2000; available at http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2000/dec/14/uselections2000.usa13, accessed November 5, 2008.

[2] “Obama Victory Speech: ‘Change Has Come to America,’” Huffington Post, November 4, 2008; available at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/11/04/obama-victory-speech_n_141194.html, accessed November 5, 2008.

[3] “In full: President Bush’s speech,” available at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6130740.stm, accessed November 5, 2008.

[4] http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/opinion/la-ed-election5-2008nov05,0,3709343.story, accessed November 5, 2008.

[5] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pf0XIRZSTt8, accessed November 5, 2008. See also, http://www.nrlc.org/foca/index.html, accessed November 5, 2008.

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