The long, heated, costly battle for the White House between Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama has focused on the word "change." Throughout their campaigns both men have hammered the theme of "change" and how there must be changes in Washington.
Most Americans agree, but there are wide differences in what change means depending on which man becomes this country's next president.
McCain is quick to acknowledge that many in Washington - those who have occupied the Oval Office and those in Congress, not just for the past eight years but over a much longer period - have failed to measure up to their responsibilities.
Our elected leaders have turned their heads, closed their eyes and not addressed pressing needs.
McCain says if he is elected, he will crack down, demand performance and change the way elected officials carry out their responsibilities.
He believes our system of government is the best in the world, and his call for "change" refers to preserving and strengthening this system, to clean and correct the abuses, not change our historic system of government. Free enterprise, capitalism, the limited role of government in the lives of Americans, the right for secret votes on matters such as union representation, a tax schedule that encourages growth and private ownership, all are important.
He has made it clear that if he is elected, changes will be made in Washington.
Obama has been eloquent in his call for "change," but his change is far different from McCain's. Obama does indeed want to change, but in many cases, he would change the historical American way.
Government would play a much larger role in the everyday lives of Americans, and there would be a drift from capitalism to socialism. There would be a redistribution of wealth, and the free enterprise system and entrepreneurship would be penalized or stunted by Obama's tax changes. The Illinois senator also has made it clear there would be changes in how this country and its president would deal with those who are committed to destroying this nation. There certainly would be a significant change required in the philosophy of those being considered and appointed as justices of the U.S. Supreme Court.
"Change" with Obama means changing how this country and its system of government work.
"Change" for McCain means keeping our traditional system of government but changing the manner in which elected officials are expected to carry out the responsibilities of their offices.
This country's record is tremendous. There is no need to apologize. We can make it even better, but all citizens should be proud of their country and proud to be Americans. If conditions are so bad in the United States, why are so many millions trying to move to this country from around the world?
There's no question there are abuses and have been oversights and illegal and immoral actions by some in Washington, but this does not mean the system is wrecked or out of date and should be changed. It should be corrected and strengthened, not changed and overhauled.
Obama's clear desire to change our country's government in so many ways calls attention to the future composition of the U.S. Congress. If Obama should be elected, and if Democrats gain major majorities in both the House and Senate, the danger of Obama's plan of change becomes even more disturbing.
The election of John McCain is the best assurance this country can have at this time that the values and institutions this country has enjoyed in past generations, which have helped make this country great, will continue to be protected and strengthened rather than weakened, compromised and changed to fit Obama's plan for a different America.