It was fascinating to me to hear how the Republican Party is attempting to co-opt the language of the Obama campaign. They have suddenly become the party of change, though what that change will be is less clear. Unless change means the same bad policies on steroids. Mr. McCain would continue the Bush tax "cuts," which favor the top 5% of the nation's population and make them permanent. He and Mrs. Palin blithey repeat over and over that Obama will raise my taxes although they know perfectly well that that isn't true. He'll raise Mr. McCain's taxes since he lives in those upper eschalons of wealth. I dont' know about Mrs Palin's taxes. In any case. The repeated mantra in speeches and ads that Obama will raise our taxes is a flat out lie. I think it says something about a politician's own platform when he or she thinks that in order to win they have to lie about the other guy. Republican style change also involves continuing the Iraq war until the end of time. Republican change involves more of the same environmental and energy policies too. They will drill more. They will take wolves and polar bears off the endangered species lists. This doesn't seem like a big change from what we have now. If anything, it might possibly be worse. So there was a lot of use of Obama's theme word change, but I guess - again taking a page from the Bush/Cheney playbook - they have simply redefined the meaning of the word. Change in the Republican dictionary means "doing the same thing."
Then there's the definition of maverick. According to Merriam Webster, a maverick is "an independant individual who doesn't go along with a group or party." Hmmm. To give credit where credit is due, there was a time when Mr. McCain was indeed a maverick and an independent-minded man. Early on in his career, I had great respect for him and the work he did to eliminate certain kinds of corruption in Washington. But times change and men change. The John McCain who campaigned for Bush and who voted with Bush 90% of the time is not my idea of a maverick. The John McCain who so wants to be president that he has changed his views on torture, immigration and other things in order to get his party's nomination doesn't seem very independent to me, so I guess that "maverick" in the Republican dictionary means "one who will do and say whatever it takes to get elected."
Compassion and compassionate are also words which Republicans and I seem to define differently. Again, Merriam Webster defines compassion as "sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it." I continue to be struck by the "compassion" of a woman like Mrs. Palin governor of a state so rich on the oil profits that are draining the finances of the rest of the nation at the gas tank that it has a surplus, yet who chose to slash close to $3,000,000 in funding for a residence and training program for young unwed mothers who chose to keep their babies. Then there is the compassion which cuts funds for a very effective health care program for children, which favors the profits of the insurance industry of the life and health of the poor. There is the compassion that mocks the work of "community organizers," as meaningless. I guess it community organizers don't serve the Republican constituency. Then there is the compassion which says that the economy is doing great and that my struggle to pay for heat and food is "in my head," that considers my distress to be "whining." Granted Mr. McCain booted the source of those last two comments to the curb, but although he's too smart a politician not to distance himself from the idea of poor people whining, he continues to defend the health of an economy in which the poor and middle classes or the nation are suffering mightily. My sense is that Mr. McCain's compassion lies with rich guys like himself who will have to pay more taxes when Senator Obama gets elected. Frankly, I'm not sure what the Republican redefinition of compassion is. If they are feeling my pain, they are certainly showing very little sign of wanting to do anything about it. Maybe the Republican definition of compassion saying "I feel your pain, promising tax cuts and then giving those tax cuts to the one tiny segment of the population that doesn't actually need them."
Which brings me to the whole subject of taxes, I guess. It's something that has always annoyed me about the American people. We have somehow been programmed to think that taxes are some wicked punishment perpetrated on us by the forces of darkness. That, I think, is the Republican definition of them and unfortunately way too many of us buy into it. Taxes are, in fact, simply how government pays for itself - for roads and schools and other programs that serve the greater good of the population at large. Those wonderful tax cuts we all salivate for are more slight of hand than anything else. What trickles down from them isn't golden goose eggs. What trickles down from them is higher taxes on the state and local level. What trickles down from them is unpaved roads, collapsed bridges, failed levees and flooded, devastated cities. What trickles down from them is underfunded school programs. What trickles down from them is cancelled health care and food assistance programs. What trickles down from them is an entrenchement of poverty and suffering for the most vulnerable in our society and while we treat free the most wealthy members of our society to a free lunch. Mrs. Palin and Mr. McCain both flat out lied in their speeches. I didn't listen to anybody else but I'm sure they all sang the Obama is raising taxes song too. Obama's plan lowers taxes for 90% of the population. But I think the McCain campaign is applying the Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels credo that "if you repeat a lie long enough and loud enough...."
On to something else. Just for a break from words, I stole this little cartoon from Jay Simser at Bailey's Buddy. I think it's very funny. Thanks Jay.
But this brings me to another definition I'd like to look at. Big Government. Big government in the Republican dictionary is any kind of government program that is aimed at helping the poor. Legislating my right to marry who I choose or abort a baby or tapping my phone calls and spying on me are not big government. They are ways of protecting me from bothe eternal damnation and terrorists.
I could go on and on, but this is long so I'll end with this one because I think it's a very important word and applies somewhat to all the rest of these re-defined words. According to Merriam Webster yet again, the word LIE is defined as follows:
1: a - an assertion of something known or believed by the speaker to be untrue with intent to deceive b - an untrue or inaccurate statement that may or may not be believed true by the speaker
2: something that misleads or deceives
The Bush/Cheney administration likes to say that they aren't lying or changing their story, they are "redefining." Apparently this is another "change"* (see Republican definition above) that the McCain/Palin administration plans to institute. (See paragraph on taxes and any of their campaign ads.)
By the way..... A couple of die-hard Right-Wing Republicans have been discussing politics with me. In the comments of my last post one of them asked me a question about whether liberals weren't trying to impose our values on people like him. I'm really proud of my response. I'd love to have people read it. (How pathetic is this... asking you to read my comments responses... but I REALLY like what I said.....)