Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Political Word Differences

(First part reposted from October 2006)

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.

The "Bethany" referenced above had posted the following months ago:
I didn't work last night, and thusly awoke at 3am, too tired to do much, and too awake to sleep. For some reason, while I was laying there staring at the ceiling, I began to envision a national survey with only two questions:

1) Do you believe that everything will work out okay?
2) Do you consider yourself more of a Democrat or a Republican?

I don't really know why, but I spent a good 45 minutes pondering if there would be any correlation between the answers to those two.

I don't know how it is for most people, but I realized that on the days that I am consumed with worry over everything from the funny smell in my car to world hunger, I am more likely to want a Democrat ballot. On the other hand, the days that I feel like things are pretty okay, I want to go Republican. I don't really know why that is, but I'm sure I'll be pondering it a lot more over the coming weeks. I was happy however, when I realized that this all meant that my pervading desire to vote for McCain probably means, for me at least, that things are pretty good here on the Western front.
I see these as related.

With the conventions coming up, you can expect a lot of sameness in the rhetoric. Both parties will warn that we are now on the precipice of falling into Bad America, but we have one last chance to choose Good America. They will both oversimplify both their opponent's positions and their own. But I think you will hear the themes listed above thrumming underneath the speeches, the soundbites, and the talking points.

I'm glad I don't have TV. You poor bastards.


Donna B. said...

It was Al Gore in 2000 that turned me off on the "Fight For You" theme. I think you have a good point in this post.

I really don't want people fighting for me, especially for things I don't want.

bs king said...

Three letter AVI: DVR. My VCVAF turned me on to it, and now we start watching shows about 10 minutes late, just so we can fast forward through commercials. Saves time and sanity.