There is an old French adage, Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose--The more things change, the more they remain the same. This, perhaps, is the political message of Washington Irving as upon his return after twenty years, Van Winkle's scrutiny of the sign for his "old resort," the village inn, reveals another George: General Washington. However, little has changed: the red coat is now blue and bluff; a sword is in hand rather than a scepter; and the head is decorated now with a three-pointed hat. There is in the inn, as usual a crowd, albeit more contentious.
Apparently, there is some ambiguity about this political message of Irving's. Having been accused of lack of patiotism because he lived abroad, Washington Irving may be implying in his tale that there is little difference in the two leaders, King George III and President George Washington. Politicians argue, much in the same manner as all citizens of all European countries do, Irving may be saying. Had Rip van Winkle been around, would his presence have changed anything? How much influence, then, does one man have? Van Winkle is freed from the tyranny of his wife, it is true; however, he is not freed from politics. Plus c'est la meme choice.