GWU Issues Management

A blog established for the George Washington University School of Political Management's Issues Management course.

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Location: Washington, D.C., United States

A middle aged white guy, who likes to think, talk and, too infrequently, write about politics, religion and gadgets.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Change

Welcome to Issues Management, Spring 2008. Our first class bodes well for a lively and interest semester. I appreciate the class involvement I've seen so far. We are a small, but scrappy, group.

The word of the early stages of this campaign is "change" and maybe the word that carries us all the way to November. Read the article I've posted on The Blackboard which is a kind of rumination on the word "change."

Then discuss.

How do you react to the candidates chant of "Change, change, change?"

What "issue" is addressed by this approach to campaigning and does repeating the word change help "manage" that issue?

Which candidates are credible when promising change and which are not?

Address any of these questions or post some other reaction you might have to the article before class on Thursday evening.

11 Comments:

Blogger Bruno Hoffmann said...

Professor.
I wasn't able to have access to the article trough blackboard. For some reason, I just have access to the classes that I took past semester. Not yours yet. Can I have the article sent to my email? bfhoff@gmail.com
Thank you.
Bruno

12:33 PM  
Blogger MM Jersey said...

THe article is interesting, but I take away from it the thought that the change message really needs appropriate to the political mood in the country. Mondale in 84 tried it, as the article references, but it didn't resonate.

Seems that the minute Obama won Iowa, everyone became about change. In many ways he grabbed that mantle early on in the process and stuck with it. Only after some focus groups and witnessing the resurgence of Obama in the fall did Clinton begin to focus on the "change" mantra.

No republican can credibly harness the change issue in this campaign as they by and large espouse the same policies as the current President. That's not change.

Clinton, by virtue of being the first woman with a legitimate shot at becoming president, certainly has a piece of the change argument, but her last name is still Clinton. Obama is the only one that can own the issue of change and that's why voters have shown interest in his candidacy.

11:56 AM  
Blogger Cullen Linebarger said...

I cannot access the article either off blackboard. My e-mail address is cl2006@gwu.edu. Can you send the article to my e-mail address?

Thank you,
Cullen

6:16 PM  
Blogger Fi5hburn said...

I'm experiencing the same problems with blackboard. Please forward the article to ashley.fishburn@hotmail.com.
Thank you!
-Ashley

7:37 PM  
Blogger MM Jersey said...

THink his article was attached to the email he sent everyone on C-mail.

5:26 AM  
Blogger Bruno Hoffmann said...

Yeah. You're right. It's attached. Thanks.

6:24 AM  
Blogger Fi5hburn said...

Everybody stumps on ‘change’ because the average American can grasp the concept. John Doe may not understand the intricacies of healthcare reform, but he does know that something should be done, and to Mr. Doe that is equivalent to change.

I think people really just want to see results, which takes more than just a new Administration, but a leader to forge coalitions and partnerships. However, getting things done does takestime with our government, that’s the way our Founders intended it to be. All of the candidates know they will not waltz into the White House January 2009 and command their policies take affect. It doesn’t work like that and everybody, deep down on the inside, knows that.

For those reasons, besides the fact that the concept is so relative, the change rhetoric does nothing for me.

2:55 PM  
Blogger Cullen Linebarger said...

The change slogan is compelling because the vast majority of Americans want to move away from the policies of the current administration. The slogan itself, though, means nothing unless change is accompanied by fresh ideas and sound policies.
It is admirable and says great things about how far our country has come when we have the chance to elect either our first black or first female president. We must judge these and all other candidates on their merits, though, and not elect someoneas the best change agent and a chance to make history.

3:22 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

My perspective on all this Change nonsense comes a bit from the inside. In my business, whenever a poll shows net-negative perceptions of the direction of the country, we say some b.s. like, "Voters are change oriented." It's overused and trite, though true as far as it goes. They want something different than what we have now and they most don't think it as far through as comparing policies of one candidate to another or to the current administration. It's a general reaction to a general perception.

The change they want isn't necessarily any more than surface deep. They'll be happy with symbolic change, i.e. a new party in the White House or Congress, a Washington outsider taking on an incumbent, or something as ridiculous as giving everyone in the country $600. It's not one issue or even a set of several issues. They just want to feel better about life in this country in general. Whether it actually gets better or not is pretty much irrelevant.

The problem with the change debate within party is that any of these candidates are a change in one sense or another. At the most basic level, they aren't the guy in the White House right now. For the Democrats, they aren't the party in the White House right now. Quibbling over whose win would mean more/better change is a waste of time and energy. Much better that they should be relentlessly attacking each other until voters all get fed up and move to Canada...:)

9:13 AM  
Blogger Bruno Hoffmann said...

In times of election, were the current administration has more than 60% of disapproval rate, we couldn’t Not expect the word Change being expressed and used by candidates.

The word is unanimity – and that means that it losses its effect. What matter is not the fact that candidates want to promote change, the question is how it’s going to be done – how profound.

That’s why I believe that any candidate is credible enough to propose change – even W. Bush if he could run again. Well definitely not as credible and trustworthy as others; for sure not expected to work. But it all depends on the electorate believing on it or not.

A problem of the current political structure in the U.S. (Rep. vs. Dem.) is that it limits different candidates with different ideas get through and be widely comprehended and accepted by the general public. Which explains why Ron Paul hasn’t been taken seriously by the Media since the beginning.

This year, democratic candidates are automatic associated with the word change. They are ahead on that matter. But Romney with his change message, for instance, can end up getting a lot of traction between non-liberals that are unsatisfied with Bush Jr.

The use of word change is the biggest difference between Hillary and Obama, the former first lady want to promote change playing on the current political structure, with the same rules – because that’s where she claims to have experience. On the other hand, Sen. Obama goes with a profound change in Washington, he wants to change the structure, the rules and who is rolling the dices.

12:52 PM  
Blogger Danielle said...

Change is the ubiquitous word of Election 2008 as it has been in elections past. Like many of my peers have addressed, the change theme derives from the feelings voters have of the country going in the wrong direction (the war, the economy, our international image, etc) and largely just being fed-up with the current administration.

But why is it a reoccurring buzzword and campaign theme through out electoral history? Because it is one of those magic words that means everything and nothing all at once. The term paints a picture unique to every person that hears it and the image always offers vast improvement. Then, everyone assumes that those who promise change and talk about change mean the very same rosy image of change that they themselves conjured upon hearing the word. This assumption means that no one bothers to enumerate and qualify the idea of change. For the politician who succeeds with his, or her, message of change this means their campaign promise is never left unfulfilled; though, ironically, they never actually fulfill it either. The public almost never believes that Washington has changed. Yet, apparently—despite their frequent declaration of this belief—they have an undying hope that it will, because every couple elections change becomes the theme, and someone ends up winning because they were deemed most representative of the change they promised.

2:22 PM  

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