If you ask most supporters of Sen. Barack Obama why they so fervently want him to be elected president, they will tell you about their deep yearning for "change."
And that, of course, has been the theme of the Obama campaign from its inception -- "change." It is the word found on nearly all the placards at Obama rallies. It is the word most often cited by the candidate himself.
But for all its ubiquity and for all the passion of its advocates, what this change is about is not entirely clear.
Of course, Obama himself often has spoken about the overriding need for change from eight years of President George W. Bush's policies. But this is not what he or most of his supporters really mean when they talk about change. In fact, it cannot be. This is easy to show: All candidates for president run on a platform of change from the party in power. If they don't stand for change, why vote for them?
George W. Bush wanted a change from Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton wanted a change from the first George Bush. And so on back to the first candidate for president to run from a party other than that of the prior president.
If change in policies from those of George W. Bush were all Barack Obama meant by change, "change" would not elicit anywhere near the passion it does. Nor would it be the basis of the depth of his appeal to his left-wing supporters. Surely John Kerry wanted as much of a change from George W. Bush in 2004. Yet he did not run on a platform of "change."
What Barack Obama is tapping into with the word "change" is nearly eight years of the left's constructing a description of an America that has been made so awful that "change" means changing America, not just changing policies.
The truth is that aside from the Iraq war, which is turning out to be quite successful, George W. Bush's policies have not been particularly controversial or even particularly right-wing. But the left has constructed for itself a view of America that, if you subscribe to it, makes radical change imperative.
The left, from The New York Times to MoveOn.org, has led itself and others to believe that:
--George W. Bush lied America into war.
--Tens of thousands of Iraqis and more than 4,000 Americans have been killed in a war waged in order to line the pockets of Vice President Dick Cheney's friends.
--The Constitution has been trampled on.
--America has become a torturing country.
--America's poor have become far more numerous and far more downtrodden.
--American troops in Iraq repeatedly have engaged in atrocities against innocent civilians.
--The opportunity for economic self-improvement has ceased for most Americans.
--Racism is endemic to American society.
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