Prelude: I almost titled this post “The Fall of the Plutocrats’ Prejudiced Pronouns.” What held me back, though, was the fear that if someone pronounced my clever alliteration out loud, they might get saliva on their computer/tablet/smartphone screen. Since this is the beginning of the cold and influenza season, I decided to restrain myself in the service of good public hygiene. Oh, do remember to cough or sneeze into the crook of your arm or your shoulder. The viral laden droplets are far less apt to be transmitted to another when you offer that hearty handshake of yours. And for crying out loud, stop being a wuss and go get a flu shot, too. And wash your hands!
THIS and YOU: Pronouns of the Rich and…and…and…?
The leaders of the Right (the political and ideological right, that is), both formally and virtually, have consistently referred to Barack Obama as “THIS” president. Ann Romney, the now former presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s wife, upped the rhetorical ante during the campaign by referring to the country’s population as “YOU” people, by which she apparently meant the 99% of we mere plebes who lacked any cache’ conveyed by filthy-richness have no right to believe anything beyond what we are told by those who, after all, really matter: The ONE percent at the top of the socioeconomic marble staircase. From their lofty perspective, the expectation of unquestioning subservience applies just as much to those underlings of their own party, in this case the GOP, not just the 47% of the unwashed masses who weren’t going to vote for Romney anyway because they were too busy not paying any taxes or doing anything substantive or “responsible” to care for themselves.
As one who studied the power of rhetoric during his doctoral work, I found the Conservatives’ use of the pronouns “this” and” you” revealing in the sense of standing next to a rock wall and suddenly having an invisible door open. Casting aside all caution for fear of being swept back into the Republicanism I have been in recovery from for close to a decade, I stepped over the threshold. What a mess! Just don’t tell anybody.
The Republicans have been referring to THE president as THIS president virtually from the day he was first sworn into office in 2009. I contend the use of this particular pronoun was intended to be an objectivist put-down in most cases, to be both denigrating and condescending. For some, though, it is a subtle but rhetorically obvious statement based on the racial prejudice of the speaker. I think it can be suggested that it is the modern euphemism of the discredited term, “boy.” In some people the choice of the pronoun is not due to conscious thought so much as an expression of a kind of group-speak, although it carries the same rhetorical effect–a sarcastic slur. The emotional effect and intent is to place a linguistic wedge between the man, in this case, Barack Obama, and the office that he holds, which happens to be President of the United States; it is intended to communicate that in the opinion of speaker, the person in possession of, again, in this case, the Oval Office is not legitimately entitled to be there. That is because he is __________ (fill in the blank).
The use of the pronoun “THIS” as a pejorative has been rampant amongst the GOP leadership for both the House of Representatives and the Senate. In fact, I would go far as to state that if I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard Rep. John Boehner, Rep Eric Cantor, and their Senate counterparts, Sen. Mitch McConnell and Sen. John Kyl use the phrase, “THIS president,” I’d probably be richer than Karl Rove (who loves to use the pronoun, as well), who now has nothing more useful to do than to count the fees he made off the hundreds of millions of dollars he conned from the billionaire marks to defeat not just Pres. Obama, but also numerous Democratic senators and representatives, which, as we know now, was a complete waste of money. I’m just certain Karl doesn’t have to give back his undoubtedly very big commissions despite all those losses he suffered at the hands of the American Voter. But I digress. Well, I do have to ask, “Hey Karl, how’s that Citizens United thingy working out for you these days?”
As I wrote earlier in the blog regarding Ann Romney’s rhetorical use of “YOU people” the same point is evident. With recent reports coming out of The Netherlands of how Bain and Romney are alleged to have laundered millions in profits through the Dutch financial maze and in all likelihood avoided paying tens of millions of dollars in U.S. Taxes, it appears to be crystal clear why Mrs. Romney didn’t want to have those facts come to light. Especially to YOU people! Not only is Romney very possibly indictable for felony tax evasion against the United States, it also would mean that the ten percent Mr. Romney has claimed he has given to the LDS as required by its church rules during those years was millions of dollars short. Salt Lake would not be amused.
With such a sword of Damocles hanging over their heads and campaign, Mrs Romney had to resort to the only weapon she had at hand, a stinging verbal rebuke of the underlings for even daring to raise the question. We the people—or in her rhetoric, “YOU people” are not worthy to be privy to the true financial records of the Great and Powerful Oz…er, uh, Rom. I am fairly certain that to this day she believes she put the entire nation in its place—once and for all. They never did release their true tax returns for the ten years that has become the standard for presidential and vice presidential candidates. Romney even required his running mate, the most unfortunate, Rep. Paul Ryan, to provide those documents to the Campaign as he was being vetted to be Romney’s running mate, but it seems suspiciously apparent to me that what was good for the goose was not good for the gander.
For me, the great irony of this election is that the Lords of plutocracy put forth a mighty cry, a bunch of bucks and a candidate that had all the personality of a Madam Tussaud’s wax museum figure, and they pretty much lost it all. I find it hard, well, close to impossible, to be honest, to have any sympathy for their plight.
The election is over. America is still in the hands of the people who count, not THOSE people* who thought they could buy it and own it, with the rest of us being subservient to their plutocratic will.
*Sorry, just couldn’t resist that one!