Change for Change’s Sake

Number of times each Democrat said “change” or “changes” during Saturday’s televised debates


Hillary Rodham Clinton 25 times “I embody change. I think having the first woman president is a huge change.”
John Edwards 14 times ” I believe deeply in change.”
Barack Obama 14 times . “We’re going to bring about real change”
Bill Richardson 8 times “I love change. We all are for change.


Is “change” going to be the buzzword of the 2008 US Elections, much as “working families” was here in Oz? It’s certainly just as empty a phrase.

“I embody change!” “I believe deeply in change!” “We are all for change!” “I love change!”

Change, change, change-y change-ness. Change-ified change-ocity.

Sorry to go off on a tangent there, but hearing Hillary repeat that word 25 times has affected me. Or maybe my problem was in trying to renovate the “Working Families” Drinking Game into the “Change-y Change-ness” Drinking Game.

Is this the best buzzword y’all could come up with? What’s the deal? Don’t you all have “Working Families” in America?


UPDATE: I now have the transcript of the 5 January 2008 Democratic Debate. I count more than 90 utterances of “change” words. But is Hillary channelling Woody from “Cheers”? You be the judge:

  • “I want to make change, but I’ve already made change. I will continue to make change. I’m not just running on a promise of change. I’m running on 35 years of change. I’m running on having taken on the drug companies and the health insurance companies, taking on the oil companies. So, you know, I think it is clear that what we need is somebody who can deliver change. And we don’t need to be raising the false hopes of our country about what can be delivered. The best way to know what change I will produce is to look at the changes that I’ve already made.”–Hillary Clinton, Jan. 5, 2008
  • Woody: “I believe I was elected to the city council as an agent of change, and I fully intend to live up to that pledge. I will make change.” Frasier: “No, change ‘change’ to ‘a change.’ ” Woody: “What?” Frasier: “No, see in here, you make change. There you make a change, so just make the change–change ‘make change’ to ‘make a change’–OH, JUST CHANGE IT!!” [storms out of the bar] Woody: “I think I see why Dr. Crane never cures anybody.”–dialogue from “Cheers,” May 20, 1993
  • –HT: for the Cheers ref.


    12 Responses to “Change for Change’s Sake”

    1. tizona Says:

      And the really, really good thing, should any of the mentioned above win….IS change is THE only thing that will be left the pockets of Americans.

    2. Ash Says:

      Spot, if I’d ever once played the “Working Families” drinking game during the Australian election, I’d still be drunk.

      For the same reason, I’m not going to play the changiness drinky-changy games. Mostly because mixing your alcohol leads to an evil night.

    3. spot_the_dog Says:

      Maybe that’s what happened in the Australian election, Ash. Too many people were playing the Working Family Drinking Game and by the time 24 November rolled around they were so wasted they just said, “Aw, f#*k it” and checked the ALP or Greens box, just for a laugh.

    4. Ash Says:

      You could be right there Spot. Rumour has it a lot more booze was imported in the last quarter of 2007 than any other year. But like I said, rumour.

    5. saltydog Says:

      While we have “working families” here, it is more likely to be expressed as “working people,” which phrase attaches only to those who are not in the upper income brackets. Which brackets are left a little vague, of course, since we don’t want to alienate anyone who has worked his ass off and finally made it to a higher bracket.

      The closest we come to the meaning (whatever it may be) to “working families” is the ubiquitous “family values.” Now I have nothing against what folks may value if they have families, but I tend to think that values per se are highly individual–and can only be individual–and what any group of individuals may value at any one time varies. So, I find that phrase just as empty as “working families.”

      As for the change thing: Kudos to spot the dog for taking note of this assault on the aural senses. I don’t think I’ve seen a report from Iowa or New Hampshire, no matter how brief, that hasn’t used a candidate sound-bite containing that word. Soon they’ll just show pictures of the candidates saying only “change,” or some form of the word. It just makes my brain vibrate–and not in a good way.

    6. spot_the_dog Says:

      Labor used to like “Workers” or “Battlers,” which brings to mind good old-fashioned hard-working folks determined to “battle” their way to a better life. But a funny thing happened whilst they were on the opposition benches. After 11-1/2 years of John Howard’s Coalition government, unemployment was at record lows, pay and benefits soared, and basically everyone became better off than at any other time in Australian history.

      Thus, the Sparky (electrician) or other Tradie (tradesman) who used to be a “Battler” was suddenly on 60K+ and the phrase “Battler” started sounding kind of silly.

      So Labor employed some Yank who came out and orchestrated a PR campaign to target “Working Families,” which is basically everyone. Well, except me 😉

      They tried, and succeeded to some degree, to convince people who live in 4X2 homes with 2 cars and all mod cons that they had been dudded, that they should all be able to have plasma TVs and cable and new cars every 2 years and that they were suffering from the dreaded “Mortgage Stress” if their mortgage came to more than 30% of the average Australian wage (not 30% of their wage, 30% of “average”), and that John Howard had made petrol, housing, childcare and groceries “too expensive”…

      Basically, (1) Everybody is a Working Family, (2) Working Families don’t have enough stuff, (3) Working Families pay too much for the stuff they have, (4) Working Families are being forced to work too hard, (5) it’s all John Howard’s fault, (6) Labor will fix all that.

      In any case, many of us started, but gave up, counting the number of times Labor candidates included the phrase in their talks. I have one somewhere where it is mentioned 16 times in one short door-stop speech. It started off sick-making but kind of a novelty, which is when we started the game where we’d watch The 7:30 Report and have a drink every time “Working Families” were mentioned.

      Maybe my aural senses were over-sensitised by the repetitive hyperbole of our recent election campaign, but the “change” mantra in the US campaign makes me cringe, especially when repeated by Democrats over 60 times in just one debate!

      I like your idea of pictures of the candidates saying only “change.” If I had more tech-y skills I’d re-dub a clip of the candidates so that the whole thing is just them saying “Change, change change, change-y change. Change changes changing change […]”

    7. Ash Says:

      If I had more tech-y skills I’d re-dub a clip of the candidates so that the whole thing is just them saying “Change, change change, change-y change. Change changes changing change […]”

      Spot, please tell me that you didn’t just issue a challenge.

    8. spot_the_dog Says:

      Well gosh, Ash, it’s mostly those little Gen Y-ers who have those kinds of skills, and I just don’t know any who are either interested enough in politics or smart enough…

    9. spot_the_dog Says:

      OUCH!! WHOA!

      Crikey, I didn’t know Tasers worked over the Intertubes!

    10. Ash Says:

      I love my taser… *Ash puts a satisfied smirk on her face*

    11. Paco Says:

      A little change is all we’ll have left if one of these bolshies gets into office, ’cause any one of ’em would be only too happy to turn on the great government vacuum cleaner and start sucking up a confiscatory share of private income.

    12. spot_the_dog Says:

      After Paco and Tizona’s comments about “change” vs. “a change,” I had to update this to include a relevant quote from Cheers

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