Wednesday, April 09, 2008

We want change!

Charles R. Kesler, professor of government at Claremont McKenna College, examines the riddle that is the Obama campaign phenomenon:
OF ALL of the presidential contenders’ slogans this year, Barack Obama’s have been the most interesting. His campaign creed is: “Yes, we can.” To which any reasonable person would ask: “Can what?” The answer, of course, is: “Hope.” But again, a reasonable person might ask: “Hope for what?” To which the answer confidently comes back from the Obama campaign: “For change.” Indeed Obama’s signs say: “Change We Can Believe In,” as opposed, one supposes, to the unbelievable changes. But the elementary problem with this—which any student of logic might raise—is that change can be for the better or for the worse.
He explains this as follows:
Democrats in general, I would submit, confuse change with improvement. They fail to weigh the costs and benefits of change, to consider its unintended consequences, or to worry about what we need to conserve and how we might go about doing that faithfully. They ask Americans to embrace change for its own sake, in the faith that history is governed by a law of progress, which guarantees that change is almost always an improvement.
In my observations, many Democrats go a step further: many, not all, consider the act of weighing of "costs and benefits" or the consideration of "unintended consequences" to be evidence of betrayal or heresy. They believe the world to be perfectible, as Obama himself claimed here and here, the kind of world, for example, where everyone can have "free" health care. Asking them to "weigh" or "consider" is tantamount to doubting that the perfect world is achievable.

More on Kesler's article can be found at Diminished Expectations and at Seventh Sola.

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