April 11th 2019
It’s always bad when you use a term or phrase that you think has positive connotations, when it’s negative for half the people, including many of those you need to bring onto your side. Or if you think it’s negative, and it’s not really, not for a lot of people.
Perhaps nowhere is this more apparent than shadings of “socialist”. We could show correlates, but insight can be gained simply by visualizing the biased term cloud, where saturation shows distance from the center, and size shows frequency.
For the left, “socialist” invokes visions of Bernie Sanders, British Labour, international/social/alliance. For the right, “socialist” brings up “anti-american alt-left”, “monster”, “dictator”, “tyrant”, “Nicolas Maduro”, “ignorant”, “planned economy”, and “black panthers”. So many frights in the closet!
It’s the kind of divide that one expects, and one might even claim to “know” all about. But anyone who sees the stats should really think harder about using the terms. Certainly it’s a term worn proudly by some Democratic candidates, used without reservation by media voices, and made malignant by effective negative associations on the right. Perhaps no amount of Europhilic education is going to make “socialist” a good tactical choice, begging a better turn of phrase.
Another eye popper is “taxes”. ‘Tis the season to do taxes, and it’s no more mundane than “progressive”, “property”, “depreciation recapture”, “inheritance”, “tobacco” and “tampon” to the left media. But on the right, it’s there with “subsidies”, “regulations”, “useless so-called carbon”, “raising”, “education”, “death”, and strategically perhaps a blunder w.r.t. the future of the GOP, “millennials”.
We can also have some fun with this search service (which, by the way, returns results instantly for those who are interested in trying it, and is refreshed daily with data from the most recent four weeks). “Silicon” often produces “Silicon Valley” phrases, but with some amusing differences on the left and right.
On the left, not surprisingly, “Silicon Valley startup”, “Silicon Valley titans”, “Silicon Valley venture capitalist”, “Silicon Valley investors”, and some labor issues in the Valley.
On the right, some serious ideas, like “negative emissions plant”, “ideological aspirations”, and “leadership group”, but prominently as well, “silicone implant” and unfortunately farthest right, “silicone valley”. You can’t make this stuff up — it writes itself!
Finally, with a bit more jocularity, the right seems to think it’s “Princeton, Stanford, Harvard”,
while the left seems to think it’s just “Stanford and Harvard”. Used to be Yale in there somewhere, right?
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