The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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The politics of change

The idea of change has been widely touted during this year’s presidential race. Barack Obama frequently invokes the word and almost always gives his speeches behind a podium that reads, “Change we can believe in.” Hillary Clinton has also caught on to the public’s perceived penchant for change, proclaiming herself as the “candidate for change.” In the last several months, the term “change” has been bandied about so frequently by the Democrats that one would be led to believe that were are living in the Soviet Union in the late ’80s rather than the United States in 2008.

Obama often remarks that he will put an end to “politics as usual” in Washington and bring about unity in our political system, even though he was ranked as the Senate’s most liberal member in 2007. Obama’s call for change and civility in politics has not stopped his campaign surrogates from making slanderous claims about the Clinton campaign, which have all the characteristics of “politics as usual.” Several months ago, his wife Michelle Obama remarked, “If you can’t run your own house, you can’t run the White House.” She went on to clarify her statement as applying to her own family and putting her children first, but it’s difficult to believe that the comment was not intended to reflect on former President Clinton’s marital infidelities, and many in the media chastised her for the remark. Several weeks ago, Obama’s foreign policy advisor, Samantha Power, stepped down from the campaign after referring to Hillary Clinton as a “monster.” And earlier this week, the co-chair of Obama’s Iowa campaign crassly referred to the stain on Monica’s blue dress when attacking former President Clinton. While the candidate himself has denounced personal attacks by his staffers, to use his wife’s rationale, if Barack Obama cannot keep his own campaign in order, how can he possibly run the country?

Similarly, Hillary Clinton has a difficult time asserting herself as the “candidate for change.” After all, her husband was a two-term president and her failed health care initiative in 1994 was a black eye not only for her, but for her husband’s administration as well. She has also been criticized by Democrats for being too friendly with the current Bush administration, most notably for her vote in favor of the Iraq war. She was also criticized by both Obama and former presidential candidate John Edwards for accepting lavish campaign contributions from lobbyists, creating the perception that she is part of the corrupt Washington establishment.

While John McCain has been in Congress for 25 years and is a staunch supporter of the Iraq war, I would argue that of the three presidential contenders, he has the best record of enacting change in Washington. While McCain is not the preferred choice of many conservatives in the Republican establishment, he has frequently reached across the aisle to Democrats in order to pass legislation. Most notably, he co-sponsored the revolutionary campaign finance reform bill with Democrat Russ Feingold, which angered many on the right but put an end to enormous “soft money” contributions which had poured into both the Republican and Democratic Parties and influenced the agenda in Washington. He also partnered with Ted Kennedy on an immigration reform bill last year, which would have given some illegal immigrants guest worker status and a path to American citizenship, much to the chagrin of many fellow Republicans.

Unlike Hillary and Obama, McCain has frequently worked with those outside of his party in order to get things done on Capitol Hill, even though it has hurt him politically with conservative Republicans. And while all three candidates have vouched for earmark reforms to cut down on wasteful government spending, a Wall Street Journal article from March 11 proved who has actually practiced what they preached. In just this year alone, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have requested a combined $392 million in federal earmarks for their states, while John McCain has yet to ask for a single dollar.

As the summer approaches and the presidential race intensifies, perhaps it is time to define what “change” means as it relates to politics. Just being black or female shouldn’t automatically qualify you as the candidate of change in this year’s election. John McCain has always acted in what he perceives to be the best interest of the country rather than his own political future, something that cannot be said for his opponents.

Joseph Goddard is a junior political science major. He can be reached for comment at [email protected].

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