The Rosett Report

Change versus Change

Apart from the 10% rout since Tuesday in the stock market, and whatnot, voters can relax for a day or two. They have pulled the lever, or the trigger (pick your metaphor), and whatever “Change” actually means, it is on the way. I join those who hope that Barack Obama will find the wisdom to lead this country well, though I think that would require breaking most of his campaign promises.

If he turns out to be a great president, presiding over a secure and thriving America, we can all celebrate. Those of us not yet persuaded that prosperity and peace will come of spreading Joe’s wealth and cajoling the mullahs will have reason to re-think our ideas about how the world works, and thank the man who set us straight.

In the more likely scenario that Obama’s hope-change-and-spread agenda is heading for a crack-up, it would be a great service to the country — and to themselves — for the Republicans to be ready with some new, young voices and an alternative vision. That won’t come by way of back-stabbing, infighting and trying against rising odds to devise patronage plans that out-patron the Democrats. I have this notion that if the Republicans want to redeem themselves, there just might be some traction, not so far down the road, to forgetting the branding and positioning and polling and pork, and trying a good faith leap back to that venerable American first principle of protecting individual liberty — subject of my column today at Forbes.com .

But all that will take time. At the moment, still curious about Obama’s background, I am looking –belatedly, I admit — for a copy of Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, which got some attention during Obama’s campaign. It is full of lessons on community organizing, and all about “change.” The book’s opening sentence includes a phrase which Obama appropriated for some of his grander theatrics on the campaign trail (the bold is mine): “This book is for those who want to change the world from what it is to what they believe it should be.” … (Which has a certain resonance with the slogan plastered all over Beijing during the Olympics: “One World, One Dream” — a phrase to which a Chinese friend of mine responded with the question: “But what if I have a different dream?”)

Rules for Radicals was published in 1971, so you might think that these days it would be something less than a hot item. But as the dust settles on the 2008 presidential campaign, this book ranks way up there at #169 on Amazon. Who are all these people now reading up on how the Have-Nots can take away power from the Haves? The Republicans?