[lg policy] Michigan Public Radio: Politics of Language (Part 2)

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Fri Sep 23 14:53:31 UTC 2011

Politics of Language (Part 2)
By Jennifer White and Mercedes Mejia


Today we continue our series on political language. In part one we
spoke to a linguist about the power of language and the effect it has
on our view of world. In part two, we’re going to look more closely at
the political strategy behind language use. Michigan Radio's Jennifer
White talks with Craig Ruff, senior policy fellow at Public Sector
Consultants. Don't forget to check out the extended audio below.

Language is being used more strategically in politics than it has been
in the past. Ruff says:

    "It's become a body of science now particularly through focus
groups, and so it's become more refined. It’s become more of a science
than an art about how politicians use words. ”

Here's an example. Ruff points to President Johnson's use of the
phrase "a rising tide lifts all boats," to talk about the war on
poverty and getting people out of poverty.

    "Very emotional and designed to get middle America to buy into the
fact that they had a responsibility to alleviate poverty... Then, move
forward twenty years and Ronald Reagan is in the White House and one
of his policy goals was to reduce reliance, by Americans, on
government and he used the phrase "limousine liberal," and that
connoted that there were wealthy people running around the country
trying to get government into everybody's business. And that kind of
morphed into an anti-war on poverty campaign. So, there was a huge
shift in language just on the topic of social welfare policies and
just in the course of 20 years.

Now let's put this idea to work! Craig Ruff helps Jennifer White craft
a campaign for new comfy chairs in our studios.


Related Posts:
Politics of Language (Part 1)


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