The conservation of the terms we use for politics distorts how quickly our politics can and has changed.
Well stated, as usual. Thanks for still keeping us informed in a clear, concise, and fair manner.
I have watched us go more and more towards George Orwell's 1984 for decades. I don't have language anymore to describe what is, but I do recognize what isn't. Murder isn't an "event" or a random kind of death - it's a specific kind of death. Trumplicans are not Republicans. Grifters are not "religious leaders." Liberals are not socialists. It would be most refreshing if we could identify our politicians by a special term, rather than the republican and democratic fractured names that we do now. Some objective language that encompasses what the terms republican and democrat used to encompass. We don't have to all agree, but it would be great if we could get along while we disagree, if that makes any sense.
I've had this very argument with friends of mine along the political spectrum. Words like "liberal" and "conservative" have lost their original intent, and have become labels used to bifurcate the populace. It's a way to identify our political "enemy," rather than perspectives about a handle a common problem. Likewise the words red and blue, right and left, and of course Democrat and Republican. These are labels, and when you label something you separate it from the group. I have friends who have varying opinions of what is true and what is real in American politics, but they are still my friends irrespective of what label they believe they carry and what label they believe I carry. I can still go out and have a round of golf with them and take their money irrespective of where they get their news.
Interesting perspective ...
Excellent as always. Words matter and journalism has taken a backseat to sensationalism.
I would humbly submit that our country was "diverse" in the past however prior immigrant groups have assimilated into the mainstream. My Irish great grandfather was once considered unacceptable as were my husband's Italian grandparents. The first generation Americans married within their immigrant group, the second married within the church, the third married within their social set.
Journalism lost out to profit-seeking, celebrity-chasing, and click-bait a while ago. Chaos sells. Blame and blood lead. Fact- and Source-checking gave way to quotes from anybody who said something about something. Sound bites replaced deep dives and hard reads.
Many political cubbyhole terms became inapt through various abuses. What does "Conservative" or "Liberal" mean? "Communist" and "Socialist" get thrown around and conflated without any tether to the origin of either. Terms once identified specific political philosophies. Connotative & denotative meanings always differed. Now, such words lack all meaning. Lazy thinking, mass media, the 24-hour news cycle, and propaganda killed previously shared meanings of words and language.
New terms must emerge, probably off-shoots or adulterated versions of older ones in order to create a bridge of recognition.
Journalists and others must surrender their idealistic nostalgic attachment to a bucolic America that never really existed.
I look at that old phone and the first idea that popped into my head was Chuck Grassley. Nothing against seniors, I am one myself, but there is a time in our life when we need to step aside and give others a chance to work their magic. Does he not have a bucket list of things he would like to do? Does he not want to spend more time with family, friends and hobbies? Just kind of wondering why someone would not be able to step aside and maybe groom others to pursue their political ambitions. He might even take on an advisory roll as my husband did when we retired from his successful engineering business. As a Canadian, just putting that out there.
Words matter and have power. Yours in this essay are immensely thought provoking. Humans like consistency and to not have to make judgements or decisions and to roll along in a rut and that means using words that they are comfortable using. Because to use new words is to think new thoughts and that just might require new actions. Stepping off the comfortable path and into new territory can be frightening. A mentor in my profession talked about how the human nervous system really has only a few choices, ramp up the heart rate and tamp it down, and if you remember that when you ran hard as a child playing games and collapsed in joy you were actually just as breathless and heart pounding as when as an adult you look at the bill you cannot pay. Context and how you describe things matter. The child did not describe those sensations as bad, they were joy and happiness. Perhaps as we find new words that better describe our worlds we also find new thoughts that allow us to recognize the adventure that lays before us.
Right on! Very thought provoking! Thank you
Mr. Rather, I greatly respect you as a journalist, voice of reason, and a person, however, I take issue with no mention being made of the Biden administration's blatant lies regarding the "whipping" that (never) occurred and how quickly the media jumped to demonize the Border Patrol Agents without even bothering to look into the situation - or look closer at the single photo their shameful mischaracterization are based on. I keep checking various online media outlets (i.e., the ones that ran with the "Haitian abuse" narrative) and not one I came across has issued an apology, a correction, or a mea culpa even though the facts, which were extraordinarily easy to come by, contradict the blatant lies Biden, Harris, et al continue to peddle. So many aspects of the story are alarming,
Language matters, words matter. Recently a NYT’s opinion piece asked which of six political parties would you belong to. When friends and I took it we discussed what the term progressive means—the label we each received. I’ve been disenchanted with the labels liberal and progressive for a while now. While liberals and progressives often say the right thing, it’s usually said from a place of privilege. No one wants to be uncomfortable or inconvenience. No one wants their kids in public schools; no one wants to live in the inner cities. Our labels give us the credentials to publicly stand in the right place but we aren’t willing to sacrifice if delay what our privilege has earned us. Language is what allowed corporate America to produce ads that applauded BLM last summer but allowed those same corporations to revert to kill this summer.
Yes we need new language and the actions and behaviors that go with the new words. We need surgery not just bandaids .
Mr. Rather, you could not have addressed the many parties of our government, especially the Democratic and Republican parties.
I will say, I’m a Democrat. My parents were Republican as I was growing up, but changed their party affiliations in the early 60s. Now, this being said, I cannot say if I’m a conservative, or moderate. I want this planet saved, and we, as citizens on this planet need to understand if we don’t get control of this climate, and the pollution we are putting into it on a daily basis, we will not have a planet much longer. Now, the conservative part. This, to me, is conservation. Are we, as citizens of this great nation, practicing good conservation. Answer, no. Plain and simple. We depend on fossil fuels to power our vehicles, and everything else that operates with an engine. Lawnmowers, trains, trucks, boats, planes. Everything. Why? Why are we, one of the most advanced nations on this planet, so far behind on things like this? Why have we taken so many years, and continually fight the advancement of electricity, and how it’s produced? Powering our vehicles. Why are we so far behind on the advancement of electric engines? Power stations to charge said engines? And most of all, the price of these vehicles is ridiculous.
Back to the political parties, and what is happening with them in our state capitals, and Washington DC. Simply put, as described so well by Mr. Rather, are as different as our telephones. The way I see this, we have one party now, the Democratic Party that is attempting to move this country in the direction of modernization, to the future. Advancing us to where we should have been already, had we not been held back for years of an attempted overthrow of our government all together. And, attempt to move us to a dictatorship, under Russian rule. Now, our current Republican Party. Or, Trump’s Party, or, QAnon Party. Whatever it’s trying to identify with, it’s not the Republican Party of old. It had changed so much, pulled itself apart so much that most of it’s party has questioned their affiliation with it all together. Some have switched to Democrats, some to the Liberal Party. So, this Republican Party if today, under the rule of the likes of Trump, and Marjorie Taylor Greene, is doing one thing. It’s imploding on itself, and causing one of the biggest divides of this nation since the Civil War!
If the Democrats in Washington DC don’t get their s*** together, they are going to be the cause of us losing this country, because the Republicans are moving us so far backwards now, it’s not funny anymore! Moving our voting laws back to pre-Civil War days, you might as well say. Moving women rights back to the 20s! Why, why are we allowing this to happen?
The bigger question is this. What in the ’heck’ do we intend to do about it?
Perhaps instead of parties, we should be voting on issues. For example a conservationist is someone that is thinking about Climate Change and Extinction Events.
A progressive is concerned with a Single payer Healthcare package, policing issues, Education costs and Worker issues such as paid time off, family leave and benefits.
Republicans...that one's difficult. They are primarily the Religious Right even though they only represent one religion. They are the pro-life although that does not seem to extend to the lives of children in the foster care system or the mothers of the lives they claim to be saving. Perhaps that should be rebranded as pro-unborn life, which would be more accurate. About that though there has been a motion
filed in Texas to strike down the ICWA (indian child welfare act). It should come as no surprise that this is being sponsored by the oil companies. Essentially it is a thinly disguised attempt to destroy tribal sovereignty and open tribal lands to fossil fuel and mining interests. It is Abbott's way of getting more funds in his campaign chest...we should all be speaking out against this and in fact Lakota Law has a petition on their webpage regarding this. I encourage anyone to sign it.
I guess if I were to give the republicans a label it would simply be Anti-Conservation. Because they are truly trying to dismantle any and all efforts towards conservation these days.
That's all I came up with so far, but thanks to Dan Rather I will certainly be thinking about it.
Dan I hope you had a good weekend.🌞
They are certainly pro-gun because they all get large handouts from the NRA and other gun organisations.
As always words of Wisdom and Knowledge that help the soul.
This is especially true for those of us who have suffered from the changing of definitions and positions. One of the more salient comments is that the US is but three generations old. That is a sign of immaturity. We have to get to a steady state.
In light of what is happening on our Supreme Court, perhaps we should revisit the word 'Church' in our founders' principle of separation of Church and State, and consider that it should encompass any broader belief system that would seek to advantage its believers over groups that believe differently. (It is hard to pin what we are observing on any specific Church, however much there may be a Venn Diagram overlap.) At founding we needed freedom of faith to support a union of New England Calvinists, Pennsylvania Quakers, Maryland Catholics and others. Today we have many belief systems and we've moved them from churches to facebook groups. We need gentle reminders that we have common cause with many who believe very differently from us on matters of faith - we share an interest in security, prosperity and happiness, and that our original agreement was one of tolerance.