You’ve seen it a million times already–in their recent Presidential debate, Clinton was ripping into Trump when Trump muttered to the camera, “Such a nasty woman.” It was a stupid thing to say for obvious reasons, but had he changed one word it could have made a world of difference.
After the debate, internet memes went crazy with the line, “Nasty women make history.” It was a reference to the Laurel Thatcher Ulrich quote, “Well-behaved women rarely make history.” It was a brilliant meme. Perfect, really. And a coup for the first female presidential candidate in history.
But … had Trump said “person” instead of “women” things would have been way different. Sure, he would have still been chastised for interrupting and name-calling, but, as we’ve seen this entire campaign, that stuff doesn’t stick to him. No, the use of the word “woman” was the flaw. And it probably alienated a few of the still-sane female GOP voters who were on the fence in this election because of other things he’s said. (Probably not.)
Anyway, “Nasty people rarely make history” doesn’t work. Because if it did, it would be an endorsement for Trump. And that would have been a coup for him. Plus, no one likes calling their candidate demigod “nasty” unless they have a breaking ball worthy of the phrase.
Words matter, kids.
Further proof that words matter is the term Obamacare vs. The Affordable Care Act. When this healthcare plan was created, Obama’s team (who are freaking genius mass mobilizers, by the way) knew that in such a hostile political environment the name of the program would matter. A lot. So they named it Affordable Care. Two really good words. Remember, positive + positive = positive. You can’t argue with it, it’s math. Anyway, it was such a good name, that the other side couldn’t even use it.
“Rant rant rant rant rant Affordable Care rant rant rant.” Nope.
So the opposition did something pretty smart themselves, and gave the ACA a human face. In an Us v. Them world, they gave the polarizing healthcare program the face of “them.” Instant uprising. And that uprising is why congress has attempted to repeal the Affordable Care Act more than 60 times since its inception. I wonder if had they not named it Obamacare, whether it would have made it past 30 attempts.
“If thought corrupts language, then language also corrupts thought.” – Orwell
Words matter. Choose them well.