Words Really Do Mean Things
The governor of Massachusetts was answering a question about the partisanship in government today. He compared the opposition to being guilty of sedition. The dictionary defines sedition as “Sedition is a term of law which refers to overt conduct, such as speech and organization, that is deemed by the legal authority as tending toward insurrection against the established order. Sedition often includes subversion of a constitution and incitement of discontent (or resistance) to lawful authority.” Was this what the governor intended to say about those who oppose what the governor thinks is important? Was the governor actually comparing an opposing point of view to sedition?
Is it possible that the governor was saying something extreme to condemn his opponents because that’s what he does as his usually political discourse? Sedition is a serious offense. One synonym for sedition is treason, was he actually accusing his opposition of treason? That is a serious charge. I can’t get into his head to understand his motivation, but he did accuse his opponents of treason and sedition. I suspect that he did not intend to accuse them of being traitors, but he did intend to condemn them for disagreeing with him. Perhaps he is not used to being challenged when he makes outlandish accusations directed toward his opponents.
He was challenged this time and he responded, “ think that the number of people in the [opposition] who seem to be absolutely committed to saying ‘no,’ whenever he says ‘yes,’ no matter what it is, even if it’s an idea that they came up with, is just extraordinary,” the governor told reporters after the forum.” Perhaps their positions are so extreme that the opposition genuinely does disagree with his view and they feel that they should say no. Does their honest disagreement rise to the level of sedition? Or is that just something he said not expecting to be challenged?
Words mean things, and when we use the words we must mean what we say. When an elected official says that they think we need to spend more money on education, we expect that elected official to try and spend more money on education. When we have an elected official say we don’t want any more taxes, we want that elected official to consistently fight against any tax. We have to vote for these people based on their histories and their interaction with the voters. We are stuck with these people until the next election, they must say what they mean and stay consistent with what they say. If today you say that you’re against all new taxes, I want you to be against all new taxes next month.
We expect the media to be our watchdog and to identify and challenge all discrepancies. That’s the role of media in today’s political discourse. Words mean things and we have to use the words chosen by the political figures as a basis of their beliefs. When a politician accuses his opposition to be seditious, He means what he says and is using the words properly. There are three more possibilities; he is either using the words for shock value, or he doesn’t understand the meaning of the words, or he is blatantly lying to the public.
His defenses are, “Yes I meant what I said.” Or as this governor tried to get by with “That was a rhetorical flourish.” Is he trying to convince the public they are being difficult because they are treasonous and hopes no one challenges him? The media isn’t consistent with who they challenge and for what, but they will surprise us and challenge some people for some words they use on occasion. Another option that he had available was to plead ignorance and tell us he didn’t know what the words meant. He choices were, I meant it, I was exaggerating for effect, or I’m stupid. Are these the messages we want from our elected officials?
Special interests use lots of money to run television and radio ad internet ads to make us believe things in just before Election Day. Too many of the voters are only interested during the silly season, and not enough are paying attention the rest of the time. Words mean things, action speaks louder than words.
This elected official exaggerated for effect to get the public to think less of his opposition. In my opinion that says volumes about him. The issues are less important to him than the argument against his position. If he strongly believed in his position he would welcome and honest argument by the opposition to give him a forum to strengthen his case for his position, and that would lead to more of the public believing as he does.
A cheap shot at your opponent weakens you not your opponent. Voters have to look at that when they make their decisions. Cheap shots and negative campaigns are a sign that the candidate has nothing to offer. We have to vote for candidates who stand for something not candidates who oppose everything, or make accusations and take cheap shots.
Vote for someone who will do what they say they will do and can be trusted to fight for the tax payer, not the special interest. We need elected officials we can trust and we can depend on, not someone that the party leaders can depend on or the special interests can depend on.