News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota with special attention to reviewing the performance of the media--old and new. E-Mail to

Saturday, June 28, 2008

What the language signals

We are at the SDDP convention. Many laptops are flickering away in the room. Cedar Shores has great wifi service. Epp is across the room atwittering away. Where I come from "twitter" is used to designate the semi-covert passage of gas. Cyber space has its own twists of language, however.

The significant thing I have noted about this convention is a general impatience with tentative language. Many of the items in the platform from previous years are couched in language that is weak in its assertions. It reflects the fact that Democrats are aware of being in a one-party state and have chosen a gentle mode of language to register their concerns in deference to a majority party that treats its opposition with disdain.

The attitude is changed. First of all, there is a strong possibility that the Democrats can make big gains in the state legislature and that issues can receive a hearing rather than the usual dismissal by the Republican leadership. But most of all, the deceptions and bumbling foolery of the Bush administration has left people with little tolerance for the semi-fascist attitudes of Republicans at either the national or state level. The Democrats and disaffected independents and Republicans are very serious about restoring the integrity of our democracy.

Some platform planks are changed in their predications from "should" to "must." The language reflects an attitude that bodes ill for Republicans, even should they win. Obama is seen as a great conciliator, but his supporters are in no mood to quietly endure what W. Bush and his state-level compatriots have done to the nation. The Republican notion of politics is seen as an erosion of democratic principle. If the nation is not restored by the firm intelligence of Obama, the protests against the degradation of the democracy will not be polite and gentle.

Language is the barometer of genuine change.

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States