Monday, March 26, 2012

The Apocalyptic Language of Politics

You may have noticed that our political "leaders" tend to be given to over-the-top language to emphasize the seriousness of their positions on issues. They don't just talk about budget cuts ...

They refer to the nuclear option of shutting down the government to demonstrate their steadfastness in opposing excessive spending. Unexpected spending bubbles hit like bombs. Proposed cuts to the Pentagon budget amount to fiscal castration. President Jimmy Carter referred to the need to cope with energy crisis of his time as the moral equivalent of war. We declare wars on problems like drugs and poverty. Members of both parties take no prisoners and engage in cutthroat negotiations as they try to take a meat ax to various programs ...

A Meat Ax

Even worse is the act of taking a goofy meat ax to Pentagon programs, according to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

A Member of Congress Prepares to Wield a Meat Ax

In an article last month in the Washington Post, writer Greg Jaffe looked at some of the apocalyptic metaphors used to address the impact of proposed budget cuts.

Using such wild hyperbole confuses issues and leads to emotional, rather than rational discussion of serious problems. If you're willing to go to the mat on an issue, or to club your opponent like a baby seal, you probably aren't interested in seeking compromise. Our parents (well, my parents, anyhow) used to say that sticks and stones will break your bones but names will never hurt you. Unfortunately, when politicians use terms like Nazi to describe their opponents and their positions, we're probably better off if they'd just go back to the sticks and stones ... you can take those away easier than you can fix a brain that's politically ossified.

Stop using apocalyptic language ... it's just murder ... murder, I tell ya.

So, what are your "favorite" politically apocalyptic expressions that we ought to send to the linguistic dustbin? Leave a comment and let me know.

Have a good day. Tone down the rhetoric.

More thoughts tomorrow.



eViL pOp TaRt said...

The use of the words "castration" and "neutering" with regard to budgets or programs. That has the consequence of portraying what is proposed as being excessive and unreasonable.

Come to think of it, the use of the terms "right to choice" or "right to life" seem to make claims of sole legitimacy on what is a complicated social and possible moral issue. It's like both sides are attempting to frame their position as the only reasonable one.

Mike said...

I thought apocalytic was what happened when your Hot Pocket got TOO hot.

Duckbutt said...

Using that kind of excessive language also makes it less possible to make a compromise when one is really needed.