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.