Language and Politics

Language and Politics
Language and Politics

“The language of public policy” is a term that may seem complex and intimidating, but it is crucial when considering how policies are formed in a democratic society.

It’s also important to keep in mind the implications of using certain terms. For example, the phrase “illegal immigrant” carries with it the implicit bias that “legal immigrants” are welcome and those who aren’t are not only unwelcome, but illegal. In turn, phrases like these have led to many discussions on what language can do in politics and society.

 

This blog post discusses different aspects of political language before pointing out some examples where certain terminology has been used negatively against marginalized groups as well as recommendations for new phrases with more accurate terms that can lead to positive change.

 

“Language is the filter through which we experience the world.” – J. Kenji López-Alt

 

  1.        Language Is Power

It’s no surprise that language can play a critical role in politics, but this also applies to everyday life. In fact, political language can be used to portray ideas in a way that allows for language to become more abstract and therefore more powerful, especially when it comes to voting.

 

The act of casting one’s vote is one of the most powerful democratic acts but there has been some discussion on how this power is used in a way that reinforces stereotypes against people who may not align with what is being said through certain phrases and words.

 

For example, it’s curious that Tony the Tiger is featured on milk cartons and other food products along with the slogan: “It’s the Real Thing”. This makes it seem like milk is a healthier choice for eating than soda, but there are many problems with this statement.

 

It suggests that milk is more nutritious than soda and that it’s an alternative to sugar-laden soda. This implies that people who eat sugar-laden junk foods should switch to milk as an alternative. The sugar in milk is then compared to the glucose in blood which can lead children who are too young to decide what they want for lunch to think that getting their calories from fresh fruit is ultimately a better choice.

 

All of this is done through language, which makes assumptions and generally misrepresents the benefits of one product over another, even when it comes to food.

 

There’s also a lack of a true comparison and even though milk has been said to be “Natural” and “Healthy”, that’s never really been substantiated. Sugar-laden soda still has an overwhelming amount of health benefits over just drinking milk. The more accurate phrasing for something like this should be: “Milk is healthier for your body than any artificially-flavored carbonated drink.

 

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