The Language of American Politics


At The American Interest, David Green issues “A Call To Linguistic Disobedience.”

In his essay, Green argues that some of the most basic linguistic techniques used to describe the state of American politics (or, to “define the situation”) – such as the use of a binary of left versus right, liberal versus conservative – create a system in which any substantive explanation or exploration of events becomes impossible, as actual dialog becomes shrouded behind and ultimately replaced by competitions over the definitions of fundamentally subjective labels:

“With no mutually acceptable vocabulary, communication between contending parties has all but been replaced by efforts to bypass opponents and communicate directly with two key constituencies: independent or swing voters, and the respective bases each side wishes to mobilize.”

Walter Gordon is an intern at The Rumpus. He is a native of Berkeley, CA and goes to college in Oberlin, OH. He spends most of his time reading. His eyes hurt. Other hobbies include photography, writing fiction, and sitting on top of tall piles of rocks. More from this author →