'Change' Campaigns: Can They Deliver?

By Marks, Alexandra | The Christian Science Monitor, April 1, 2008 | Go to article overview

'Change' Campaigns: Can They Deliver?


Marks, Alexandra, The Christian Science Monitor


"Change" has been a political siren song since the first disputed presidential election in 1796 between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.

The 2008 season is no exception. Barack Obama wants to change partisan Washington to become more responsive to average Americans. Hillary Rodham Clinton vows to change "the failed policies and the wrong-headed priorities of this administration." Not to be outdone, John McCain pledges to change the capital's spendthrift ways.

Political analysts say it's rare for a president to usher in genuine change. The reasons: Constitutional constraints on the executive, the entrenched political culture on Capitol Hill, and the arcane bureaucracy.

But some presidents have succeeded in bringing in a new era. In the 20th century, historians cite Teddy Roosevelt, his cousin Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan. In studying their legacies, historians say three things are necessary for a president to make a significant impact on the status quo. First, the public must want change. Second, a president must have the rhetorical skills to lead and inspire. Finally, he or she must have the political skills to implement a vision in the sometimes moribund halls of Congress.

With more than 80 percent of Americans now telling pollsters they believe the country is on the wrong track, political analysts say the foundation is there for 2008 to become a truly transformative election. But historians note that it's not until a politician actually sits in the Oval Office and begins to govern that history and citizens can judge how effective the person is as an agent of change.

"The president is not a hapless giant, he does have to use his bully pulpit: He does have some tools," says Stephen Hess of the Brookings Institution in Washington. "But we can never know how skillfully a person will be at using them, until they are actually given those tools. That's a huge question mark."

In the heated Democratic primary, Senator Obama, from the start, has championed himself as the candidate of change. Senator Clinton, meanwhile, portrays herself as the more experienced candidate and better equipped to bring about change. Indeed, the two candidates' policy proposals aren't all that different. But polls have shown that Obama's change message is the one that's resonated. For example, according to a CNN/Opinion Research poll taken in mid- March, 56 percent of Americans said Obama could "bring the kind of change the US needs," compared with 49 percent for Clinton and 39 percent for Senator McCain.

History has shown that calling for change is a crowd pleaser, especially when candidates can also lift people up with their words.

Here, political analysts give Obama the advantage. They point to the Illinois senator's most recent campaign ad in which he plays on the theme of inspiration: "One voice can change a room, and if it can change a room, it can change a city, and if it can change a city...." The ad goes on to say that a voice can change a state, and a nation, and a world. "Let's go change the world," Obama concludes. Then, the crowd cheers, while the words "For a nation changed, a world healed" appear on the screen. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

'Change' Campaigns: Can They Deliver?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.