Once upon a time political slogans such as "54-20 or fight" had some meat on them. Nowadays we're reduced to listening to candidates merely promise to bring "change."
When I think of change, most of the time I mean the coins in my right-hand trousers pocket: nickels, dimes, quarters, and pennies. Small change. And the only change the candidates could effect would be exactly that: small change.
To listen to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, however, is to hear them go on and on about how they will bring change to Washington. They are never specific about what changes they're talking about, mainly because they know full well that changing the way Washington does business is about as possible as changing the way the tides come in.
Let's start with one of their favorite targets — those evil lobbyists. Obama and the Hillary are fully aware of the reason Washington is aswarm with lobbyists but they don't dare discuss it because as progenitors of an all-powerful big government that intrudes into every nook and cranny of national life, it is their fault.
All commerce — business, industry, agriculture, the commercial fishing industry, mining, education, lumbering, trucking, railroads — you name it, is in a state of near strangulation with yards and yards of federal red tape wrapped around their throats over decades by neo-Marxist legislators of the same stripe as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
If they hope to survive and continue to operate, they have to defend themselves against the ongoing assaults of the regulators. They need boots on the ground in Washington to fend off the never ending attempts by Congress and the federal bureaucracy to impose new and deadlier and costlier forms of regulation on them.
The boots on the ground are the men and women known as lobbyists. In my years on Capitol Hill, I learned that they are, for the most part, hardworking, honorable knowledgeable people whose function is to stay on top of events in the legislature and bureaucracy that might affect their clients.
Many are themselves former members of Congress or former government officials.
They are often far more knowledgeable about the details of proposed legislation or regulations than the legislators and regulators proposing them All the hullabaloo we hear about lobbyist-sponsored lunches and dinners and golf games and corporate jets lavished on members of congress and government officials ignores the real work done by the majority of lobbyists who spend 100 percent of their time keeping a sharp - and nervous - eye on the people who have a death grip on the throats of their clients.
What would Obama and Clinton do about them? Nothing. Their clients have a constitutional right to be heard and it cannot be stripped from them without shredding the Constitution.
Are they suggesting they would change Congress and how it goes about its business? As legislators themselves they know that Congress, House and Senate, has been going about their business in much the same way they've been doing it for well over two centuries and no president downtown in the White House is going to take Capitol Hill. At the most the president will be in office for eight years. Congress has been there forever and will stay there forever defending their turf.
Are they going to reform the bureaucracy? You've got to be kidding. Legislators like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton created the Frankenstein monster known as the federal bureaucracy and it has taken on a life of its own. Changing it without cutting it down to size cannot be done - needless federal departments and agencies would fall under their protective wings and be forever here to stay.
Contrast Obama's and Clinton's rhetoric to the straight talk we heard from John MccCain on Nov. 4 when he locked up the Republican nominee. He didn't talk about change, but what he said is a real change from what we've been hearing from his Democratic rivals.
Promising to "educate our children to prepare them for the new economic realities by giving parents choices about their children's education they do not have now," to "campaign to strengthen job growth in America by helping businesses become more competitive with lower taxes and less regulation," to "campaign to make healthcare more accessible to more Americans with reforms that will bring down costs in the healthcare industry down without ruining the quality of the world's best medical care" and to reduce "our dangerous dependence on foreign oil with an energy policy that encourages American industry and technology to make our country safer, cleaner and more prosperous by leading the world in the use, development and discovery of alternative sources of energy," John McCain proclaimed "Nothing is inevitable in America. We are the captains of our fate."
"We're not a country that prefers nostalgia to optimism; a country that would rather go back than forward. We're the world's leader, and leaders don't pine for the past and dread the future. We make the future better than the past. We don't hide from history. We make history.
"That, my friends, is the essence of hope in America, hope built on courage, and faith in the values and principles that have made us great. I intend to make my stand on those principles and chart a course for our future greatness, and trust in the judgment of the people I have served all my life. So stand up with me, my friends, stand up and fight for America — for her strength, her ideals, and her future. The contest begins tonight. It will have its ups and downs. But we will fight every minute of every day to make certain we have a government that is as capable, wise, brave and decent as the great people we serve.
"That is our responsibility and I will not let you down."
That's no small change.
Phil Brennan is a veteran journalist and World War II Marine who writes for Newsmax.com. He is editor and publisher of Wednesday on the Web (http://www.pvbr.com) and was a Washington columnist for National Review magazine in the 1960s. He also served as a staff aide for the House Republican Policy Committee and helped handle the Washington public relations operation for the Alaska Statehood Committee which won statehood for Alaska.
He is also a trustee of the Lincoln Heritage Institute and a member of the Association For Intelligence Officers.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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