Can an administration that promised change all through out the election campaign really deliver on that promise if it is comprised of people who know have been around for a long time in Washington political circles? That is the question sure to be asked several times over the next two months, and four years, as President Elect Obama seems to be looking to Washington veterans to fill his cabinet and advisor positions. Whether it is Rahm Emanuel, Hilary Clinton or Tom Daschle, these folks have all played the Washington game before, and they have been playing it for a long time.
Now, before I pass judgment and bemoan how Obama is more of the same, I am willing to wait a bit and see how all of this plays out. I am interested in seeing if he can use these veterans to implement real change as he promised, or if he will go the typical Democrat way and hang out in the middle so as not to offend those on the right or the left. Obama has said that we need to work together to create the change we need, and I still agree with that. I think our politicians should start behaving like adults that are responsible for the safety, security (financial and personal and all other forms) and stop bickering like petulant teenagers who just make things difficult for everyone when they don’t get something they want. I wonder if Obama and his team can bring that kind of attitude and cooperation to Washington. I know it won’t happen overnight, or even in the next two years, but I at least hope that those first steps will be taken toward the goal of change and cooperation.
Cooperation does not, of course, mean that everyone has to agree. However, it does mean that we must set aside petty differences and work together for something larger than any one of us: the nation that is the United States of America. Our nation, as a whole, is more important than any single industry whether it is tobacco, auto, banking, insurance, health care, et al. So politicians need to grow the spines necessary to stand up to lobbyist and special interest groups. Sure, they may have contributed lots of cash to help you get elected, but you were not elected to govern them soley. No, you were elected to keep the interests of THE PEOPLE (mean all not just a few) in mind, and fight for what is best for everyone, or at least the majority. That would be a real change from politics as usual, and I would respect a politician that did that. I may not agree with him/her, and I may not vote for them, but I would respect them and applaud their example of integrity and genuity.
Not being beholden to lobbyists and special interest would be a huge change for American politics, and one way to make that happen is to change the way camaigns are run. Politics should not be a matter of how much money you can spend to win. This notion, in fact, takes away from the idea that everyone has a fair shot at becoming an elected official. The truth is you need money to get elected, you need money for the advertisements, to rent the spaces for rallies, and for several other resources. This is a sad truth and should not be the case. People running for office, whether at the Presidential or local level, should be given a specific amount of money, and allowed to spend no more than that. This would level the playing field, cut down on television ads, invasive phone calls, and would, hopefully put the focus back on the issues rather than how much money can you spend to get your message out.
Also, this, I think, would go a long way toward reestablishing our faith in our leaders. After all, if we knew that the money came from a government fund, and nowhere else, then we could feel better that politicians would do what they say. For example, if the tobacco industry is no longer allowed to contribute cash to campaigns, then we could be more certain as voters that politicans were not beholden to the tobacco industry. If we cut out causes of possible corruption, then there should be less corruption. Of course we cannot get rid of it entirely, and there will always be loopholes to exploit, but I think this could be a step in the right direction, and is the kind of change that I welcome and wish for.
But back to Obama and his inside team of insiders. He promised change, he’s now picking veterans, but this does not mean that things will not change. After all, and this could have been what he meant by change, we will soon be rid of George W Bush and his administration. This will be replaced by a group of people not yet completely selcted, but one thing that is certain, they will be different from what we’ve seen the past 8 years. They will be a change. Sure, maybe it wasn’t the change Obama voters and supporters wanted, but they cannot argue that he didn’t bring change, because last time I checked Tom Daschle wasn’t part of the Bush administration. And, like it or not, that is a change.