Thursday, October 26, 2006

Political Word Differences

I have noted before that Republican ads always say they're going to work for you, while Democrats always say they're going to fight for you. I got thrown a curve ball this morning, when Betsi DeVries promised to fight against a sales and income tax, but my code-breaking was successful. She fights. She's a Democrat.

On my trip down to Houston and across to Pensacola I heard political ads in other states, and of course we in southern NH hear the ads on the Boston radio stations as well. Same pattern. People may uncover counterexamples, but I think my observation will hold up generally.

I think that word choice bespeaks a fundamental difference in the way the two parties view government - or at least, if Bethany is correct, how they view their constituents. Democrats believe that powerful people are out to screw the less-powerful, and if someone doesn't fight for them, they're going to get in in the neck. Republicans see people as able to fend for themselves, and government as a tool to limit the damage of the bad guys. Both believe that banding together is necessary to accomplish some things, though they differ on how much of that should be done.

Well, there's some truth in both those positions. I lean heavily toward the make-your-own-life view of the Republicans, but there are certainly times when the powerful need to be constrained, or at least whacked upside the head a few times.


Anonymous said...

I suspect the whole Republican party is about to get a reminder of what it feels like to get whacked upside the head. For better or worse.

David Foster said...

"Work for you" implies playing against the course, whereas "fight for you" implies playing against other humans.

Basically, today's Democrats don't believe that anything bad happens unless it was *caused* to happen (usually by an American or an Israeli)--just as some tribal peoples supposedly don't think anyone gets sick or dies without influence of witchcraft.

The problem-solving orientation is totally missing among today's Demos, and I think the choice of phrases captures that very well.