Back in 1946, the national Republican Party, emerging from 14 years of the New Deal, ran on the national slogan, "Had enough? Vote Republican!" It was an inspired example of the sort of the technique described above. Whatever the voter had "had enough" of -- whatever was annoying him -- could be attacked and countered (the slogan suggested) by voting Republican. And the evidence is that it worked, because the voters promptly sent to Washington the first Republican Congress in 16 years.
Of course, calls for change can just as easily be desirable as pernicious -- as the Republicans in 1946 undoubtedly thought theirs was. But it will behoove us to consider carefully what sort of change is being asked for. "Change" is not, simply and everywhere, desirable. In political affairs particularly, a given change can be desirable in certain respects but thoroughly undesirable in others.
Let us beware, therefore, the political analyst who tells us, to all appearances approvingly, that what the public wants this year is "change." Maybe so; or perhaps different sections of the public want directly contradictory kinds of change. There is more here than meets the eye.
William Rusher is a Distinguished Fellow of the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy and author of How to Win Arguments .
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