Saturday, January 5, 2008

Go Team, No

I promise this is not a blog about politics per se, but about the power of words and metaphors.

My complaint is with the media. I know, they're a likely and overused scapegoat, but here's a different tack. I'm a political junkie, so I don't object to the 24/7 coverage even when it begins more than a year before a national election. I've watched every debate of both parties more than once.

I'm such a junkie, that I made a miniature roombox representing what the campaign headquarters of the candidate I'm supporting might look like, down to mini bumper stickers and banners. [Private individual email attachment showings only, for anyone who would like to see it.]

What I object to are the metaphors used to describe political campaigns. During the mid-term elections, one major network called the campaign "a horserace." Another news channel is calling this year's primaries a "bowl," and even uses the circles and arrows that we see (well, not me) during football games.

Words are powerful and sports words always imply winner/loser, which is not how democracy is supposed to work. In basketball or hockey, there is no shared winning. If team one loses by only a 2% margin to team two, they don't get a proportional part of the ring or the trophy. That's appropriate in sports. But in a representative democracy, it's supposed to work differently.

Using sports metaphors allows a "winning" candidate, with maybe only 51% of the vote to act as winner take all and too bad for the other candidate who got "only" 49%.

So that's my anti-sports metaphor speech for the day.

Do I have a better idea for how to portray elections in a democracy. Not yet, and I could use some help.


Monica Ferris said...

Early in American history the candidate with the most votes got to be president with the first runner-up serving as vice president. It doesn't work that way anymore. The one with the most votes (which might not be as many as 51%) becomes the president or senator or representative or governor. In that sense, it IS winner-take-all. And that IS a democracy.

Anonymous said...

I have to say I find myself resenting how the media approach this year's election. You can almost plot it yourself: a candidate will make a statement, and you can predict exactly what spin the newsies will put on it. And how much they will overinflate the significance, depending on how slow a news day it is. We as viewers have to be intelligent in watching and filter out the fluff. Not easy!

Felicia Donovan said...

Deb, et al. Just letting you know that you've all been TAGGED (if you want to participate).

You're welcome!

Felicia Donovan

Camille Minichino said...

THANKS for the tag, Felicia ... as soon as I figure out where to do this, I'm in. I always count on Deb and others on this blog to get me through the logistics.

And ... with respect to comments that relate to my blog today ... it's great that reasonable people can disagree, and still blog together.

Deb Baker said...

tagged? What do we do?

Kathryn Lilley said...

Even worse than sports metaphors are the war metaphors--battle, skirmish, etc.

Camille Minichino said...

Good point, Kathryn ... ugh.

Felicia Donovan said...

I was "tagged" by some fellow Sisters in Crime.

Here are the tagged rules:

1. Link to the person that tagged you, and post the rules on your blog.

2. Share 7 facts about yourself.

3. Tag 7 random people (or less if you want) at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.

4. Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

You can visit my blog to see my "tag." It's actually quite fun to learn new things about each other!

Anonymous said...

As a limited sports fan, I certainly agree with everything you say...great blog! Disappointing in all areas, is certainly the media. More disappointing are the people who succumb to it. Now, go play tag! xoxoxxo