Write this 100 times on the blackboard: language matters

In a thread downstream, ojmo linked to an article by Mike Lofgren, a 30-year Republican congressional staffer. Lofgren doesn’t like what’s become of his party and chronicles their 40-year cynical campaign to discredit government for political advantage.  And he doesn’t see Democrats stepping up either.

He touches too on something I’ve despaired about:

Democrats . . . do not understand language. Their initiatives are posed in impenetrable policy-speak: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The what? – can anyone even remember it? No wonder the pejorative “Obamacare” won out. Contrast that with the Republicans’ Patriot Act. You’re a patriot, aren’t you? Does anyone at the GED level have a clue what a Stimulus Bill is supposed to be? Why didn’t the White House call it the Jobs Bill and keep pounding on that theme?

You know that Social Security and Medicare are in jeopardy when even Democrats refer to them as entitlements. “Entitlement” has a negative sound in colloquial English: somebody who is “entitled” selfishly claims something he doesn’t really deserve. Why not call them “earned benefits,” which is what they are because we all contribute payroll taxes to fund them? That would never occur to the Democrats. Republicans don’t make that mistake; they are relentlessly on message: it is never the “estate tax,” it is the “death tax.”

3 responses to “Write this 100 times on the blackboard: language matters

  1. And language is not just communcation – it’s also thinking and mentality. If they can’t speak straight – they don’t think straight either.


  2. I read most of this post when it came out, and he is on the money for just about everything he stated.


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