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Change is more than a word

Fri, Nov 14th, 2008
Posted in Commentary

It's over. The long, long, long campaign for the Presidency is behind us. The run for the top spot seemed to be a lifetime in length. Now we can relax. Or, can we?

The lightness of spirit many felt immediately after the election has been tempered by the massive ongoing economic downturn, the loss of millions of jobs, large corporations begging for government financial support, and a roller coaster stock market.

It seems that government has become ever more important in the lives of us all. Odd how most of the time we want government to stay out of our way, except when we need someone to bail us out. We wait with great anticipation while teams of advisors confer with the President and the President-elect. The great expectation is that those in charge in Washington will somehow come up with a variety of solutions to the country's economic troubles. And, beyond the economic issues are other long standing problems.

What to do about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Can we continue to spend the enormous amounts of money necessary to fight these wars? What to do about our relationship with Pakistan? Should we go after Al Qaida and the Taliban without regard to the legal ramifications of invading Pakistan? How to deal with the increasing noise from Russia? What to do about the Israeli-Palestinian question? The list of issues and problems goes on.

What is evident from the results of the national election is that people want a new approach, a new way of going about the business of government and governing. At the Presidential level people obviously voted for change.

But will we really get the change we have asked for?

Let's for a moment talk about what didn't change. And, that would be Congressional leadership. As a result of this election there are even more Democrats than Republicans in the US House and Senate. Not enough Democrats to prevent a filibuster, but probably enough to pass legislation with a minimum of difficulty. For the Democrats Mrs. Pelosi is still the Speaker of the House of Representatives and Mr. Reid is the majority leader in the Senate. For the Republicans Mr. McConnell is still the Senate minority leader and Mr. Bohner is still the minority leader in the House.

As conservative columnist David Brooks has pointed out what is left of the Republican caucus is mainly the old Republican Traditionalists, those who believe that "To regain power...the G.O.P. should return to its core ideas: Cut government, cut taxes, restrict immigration. Rally behind Sarah Palin".

This is not change. And, what of the Democrats?

To me it's the same old, same old, with their tendency to see everything as a priority, and throw money at a problem without changing the fundamental way business is done, be it in government bureaucracies or large corporations, especially those seeking a handout. Do we really believe these folks are about to change the way they go about their (our) business?

I'd like to believe that they now understand that a new way must be found to address the problems facing our country. I'd like to believe that they now understand that the primary message of change sent by Mr. Obama's election is that the people want, actually demand, that Congress and the Administration work together to solve the pressing issues of our time.

Now it's up to these elected officials to bring about that change. It is up to them, with ongoing in-put from us, to put together the best possible programs that will benefit the most people. Now is the time for them to demonstrate that they are committed to truly working together. They must understand that one of the greatest requests put forward by the voters in giving each candidate (winners and losers) their vote is that we will no longer accept pure partisan politics. One would assume that those elected heard this and will heed it as well.

But, if they do not hear us, if they retreat to the standard mantras of their respective parties, what should we do? What will you do?

Alan Lipowitz lives in Peterson.

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