It’s Time for Change! Can there be a more classic political slogan? I imagine it has served almost every political movement at some point or another.
Until the world gets a lot better than it is now, it will always be time for change. Does that mean that the politician’s “new plan” is the right thing to do? Not hardly! After all, setting up a socialist dictatorship would be change too.
Millions of Russian peasants thought they were getting change with Vladimir Lenin. And they got it alright. Over the next generation, tens of millions of them died at the hands of the “agents of change.”
Lots of the Chinese fought for Mao’s changes. And they got change too – to the tune of 50 million (or more) deaths.
So, remember, when some politician screams about change, you’re probably being played for a sucker. That should be rather obvious, but I am forced to be explicit for a very simple and important reason: The trick works! Politicians wouldn’t keep using such slogans if they didn’t work.
So, pay attention, and do something different this time!
You can start by asking for specifics, but that might not work very well either, since politicians never really answer anything directly.
I suppose this is a good time to explain political word games, so let’s start with this: Politicians don’t answer questions, they only use them as starting points.
Politicians walk into public events with lists of points to make and phrases to use in making them. These points and phrases have been chosen based upon scientific testing. They gather focus groups, and measure the emotional responses of people to the various ideas and plans. But – more importantly – they measure emotional responses to selected words. Then, the words that show the greatest positive response will be the ones they use. There’s an actual science to this! It’s called Psycholinguistics.
It’s Time for Change?
In other words, folks, your beloved politicians are daily looking for the best ways to manipulate you. And since emotions are much easier to manipulate than actual thoughts, they play them for all they’re worth.
It is almost impossible to stop a politician from playing this game, unless you become aggressive and thuggish enough for him to make you look bad. You can ask a highly specific question, but you still won’t get a specific answer.
Probably the best strategy is to ask for numbers. A number cannot be re-defined by emotion. Nine is nine, regardless of the feelings that surround it. It may not always work, but the best method I know is to say:
Stop saying “It’s Time for Change!” Quote me some numbers, dude!
["Political Slogan: It's Time for Change!" is an excerpt from Paul Rosenberg's book, Mindless Slogans - 101 Cheap Substitutes for Actual Thought]