Tag Archives: election

Civics meets syntax

Even before the 2012 election process begins in earnest in a few days, I already have indigestion.

It used to be that this Beltway baby salivated at the onset of an election year, and all the intellectual and ideological meat it served up. I don’t know anyone who’s hungry any more, except maybe television stations with ad time to sell.

I count myself among those who have lost their appetite from the shallow rhetoric and competitive sparring—and I suspect that’s just about everyone.

However, my particular beef has to do with (surprise!) language. Perhaps my ear is too acutely attuned to misuses, but I’m aurally assaulted day after day, not just by the candidates but those who cover them. Considering the fact that we’re in this for the long haul, I’d like to see us clear a few things up:

“Congress and the Senate” is incorrect. “Congress” and “the House” are not one and the same. Congress is composed of both parts of our bicameral system–the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Congress did not “adjourn” in December. A Congress adjourns just once, at the end of a two-year Congress. Members “recessed” until 2012, when the second year of the 112th Congress begins.

“Re-doubling” is re-dundant. According to some news outlets, the primary season has this or that candidate “re-doubling his efforts” in this or that state. Unless the pol is quadrupling his efforts, this is incorrect.

“We” is not the candidate. Candidates of both parties are equally guilty of the relatively recent practice of pluralizing themselves in speech. If the United States were governed by a monarchy, this might be a “royal we,” but we are not.

Have you noticed this? The candidate refers to himself, or occasionally, herself, as “we.” I can assume “we” refers to his campaign team, his administration, his volunteers. He’s being nice. He’s being inclusive. “We” is fine when he refers specifically to the campaign team.

But to say “We are the candidate who will [reduce the deficit, reform Social Security, insert the promise of your choice]” is not just incorrect, but absurd. It makes me wonder if pluralizing the pronoun is a scheme intended to spread the blame when the electoral matter later hits the fan.

Come to think if it, I might just vote for whoever refers to himself as “I.” (Just as long as he doesn’t use it as an objective pronoun.)


Filed under All Things Wordish, News, Politics

Autumnal agida

I gather that, regardless of our individual political leanings, most of us are glad to have Election Day behind us.  

This has been a stressful time for our nation and its citizens as we’ve nearly wrestled each other to the ground for power. Personally, the raw nerves and ugly behavior displayed in past months have had me gobbling Tums like movie popcorn.

I have close friends and family members at both extremes of the political spectrum and in every gradation in between. Nowhere is this more evident than on Facebook. While I have personal connection to—and fondness for—each one of my 147 Facebook friends, the reality is that there are as many flaming liberals as there are arch conservatives, each living true to his or her values. I like having a rich diversity of friendships. After all, life would be painfully boring if we surrounded ourselves only with those who look, sound and think as we do.

It is for this reason that, while I do disclose my political orientation in my Facebook profile, I deliberately refrain from spilling forth my political views from the Facebook platform. This takes a good deal of restraint on my part. The reason for the restraint is that I do not wish to upset or offend my friends the way some do me when they post politically and emotionally charged judgments from their Status boxes. Thankfully, we live in a free country, and we are fortunate to have the right to express ourselves as we choose. But, as someone who abhors conflict, especially among friends, I prefer to avoid it. And gobble antacids.

However, I do wish to list the top reasons I am glad Decision 2010, or whatever your network calls it, is behind us.

  1. No more robo-calls at inopportune times
  2. No more mudslinging political ads souring my evening television comedy or morning news
  3. No more bulky flyers in the mailbox
  4. No more need for conflict avoidance on Facebook
  5. No more, or at least, I hope, fewer, mispronunciations of the word “pundit” by smart, well-paid broadcasters.

It’s pundit, folks, not pundint. One n.

Now let’s move on. Kumbaya.

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