This word is one of the mantras of progressive politics, often accompanied by an insinuation that other parties are averse to change. Closer examination reveals that virtually all political parties are interested in some kind of change - with fascinating differences in what institutions can or should change.
For example, liberal voices sometimes speak of the evolution of democracy, pointing to the way the essential spirit of the Declaration of Independence--that all people are created equal--has gradually been more fully realized by groups (slaves, Indians, propertyless white men, bonded labor, women) originally disenfranchised in the American republic of 1776. Similarly, they say that modern times call for modern changes within faith communities of the Judeo-Christian traditions.
Religious conservatives are less likely to see every instance of “modern change” as positive. But this does not mean that they see all change as negative. From their point of view, other changes are more necessary - for example, a greater alignment of the larger culture with religious faith and with certain key intentions of the founding fathers (e.g. the preservation of property rights and limited government).
Libertarians often zealously celebrate change, including cultural change and economic change through “creative destruction” and innovation. From another perspective, however, libertarians want to reverse change by returning to a simpler time when government was smaller and more limited in scope.
The concept of change is often also associated with demographic change, because our country is changing (i.e., not going to stay white). Some see demographic change as the end of our country as we know it, and some see it as a welcome correction for historical imbalances and/or an enrichment of our society.
QUESTIONS TO PLAY WITH:
- How has the United States changed in your lifetime? Name a change you were glad to see happen; name a change you wish could be put back the way it was. Compare your choices with other people you know.
- Why do you think some people seize upon the word “change” and claim that only they are for it, when they are not necessarily the only people who want change? What is it about that word that they find appealing?
- There’s an old saying: The more things change, the more they stay the same. What do you think that means about change in our country?
Michael Strong, Cynthia Kurtz, Mary Jacksteit
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