Every year, the Lake Superior State University publishes a humorous list of words that should be banished from the popular discourse for their “Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness.” Among this year’s alumni are words and phrases like “perfect storm,” “waterboarding” and even “organic.” Before this presidential race is over, we may have to add one more to the list: “change.” Change has quickly become one of the most overused and meaningless words of the election, with candidates falling over themselves, clamoring to claim they have a monopoly on the ability to elicit change for America. But with every candidate vying to be the harbinger of a new golden age for the United Change of Change, how do we distinguish between the rhetoric and the reality?

Those Americans who would seek to alter such a broken system have seemingly found sustenance among the candidates of the Democratic Party. Barack Obama in particular has become a magnet for a youth disaffected by the current political paradigm and ready to take the country back from the establishment. His charisma is legendary, but… is he more hype than hope? Stepping away from Obama’s oratory prowess and delving into his actual platform may just leave you scratching your head over what all the fuss is about.

Many are under the impression that Obama is an anti-war candidate. However he, like the other two Democratic front-runners, hasn’t committed to bringing all our troops home by 2013. Let that sink in for a minute – that is 2013, ten years after we first invaded Iraq. And beyond that, he wants to keep a permanent U.S. military presence in that country under the guise of protecting our foreign embassy – a $600 million monolithic structure in the heart of Baghdad that is larger than the Vatican. He claims he wouldn’t have voted for the war, but his record shows he consistently voted to fund it.

His foreign policy is even worse. A look at his Web site reveals he won’t hesitate to step up “economic pressure and political isolation” toward countries that don’t conform with our own expectations of how they should run their lives. Aside from the economic warfare he is unafraid to engage in, he has also spoken bluntly about unilateral military engagement within Pakistan and has also not removed the option of a nuclear first-strike on Iran off the table. How is this anything more than a candy-coated version of President George H. W. Bush’s interventionist foreign policy? Do we need another belligerent president who feels like they are entitled to run the world?

On the domestic side, he touts his plan to strengthen civil rights, stimulate the economy and eliminate the culture of corruption in Washington. It is interesting then that he voted to reauthorize the USA PATRIOT Act. It is also interesting that he seems oblivious to the fact that we as a nation are so in debt – both in current and future obligations – we can’t possibly afford to pay for his extravagant government programs without resorting to raising taxes significantly and inflating the money supply. These steps will stagnate market growth and decimate the dollar, sending us into a sudden and calamitous depression. And maybe he should be practicing what he preaches with regards to corruption, seeing as how he made Judicial Watch’s 2007 list of “Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians” in Washington.

And this is supposed to be change? If Steve Jobs has been derided for having a reality distortion field, then we need an entirely new theory of physics to comprehend Obama’s ability to bend reality. The most culpable aspect of his candidacy is his shameless attempt to prey upon the average voter’s hunger for real change in Washington and use it as a tool for gaining political power. His campaign strategy appears to be to over-promise and then some, hoping he will be in office by the time his supporters realize they have been fooled into voting for more of the same. Barack Obama is not the anti-establishment candidate who his supporters think he is. He is merely a well-polished product of that very same establishment.