Civil discourse was thrown under the bus when Donald Trump began running for president. His liberal use of barnyard epithets in referring to his opponents was shocking — at first. Now, there are many in politics who employ language that only used to be heard in locker rooms and in male bonding rituals.
When I first used an obscenity around my dad, he was quick to say that “there are 500,000 words in the English language and you can’t do better than that?” Obviously, for Trump, Beto O’Rourke, and others who toss around F-bombs, it’s not a matter of finding the right word. It’s the shock value, as well as a certain hipness that goes with swearing in public.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s reelection campaign started selling $29 “Impeach the MF” T-shirts Thursday, two days after Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced Congress is launching an impeachment inquiry into President Trump.
“You’ve asked for ‘em. And now we’ve got ’em,” her campaign wrote in an email, according to The Detroit News.
Lean in with me to hold this lawless President accountable. Together, we will fight back and protect our democracy.
Our country depends on it!
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) September 26, 2019
Both Republicans and Democrats criticized her language and Trump called it “disrespectful” and “disgraceful.”
Says the man who opened the floodgates to the use of coarse, formerly unacceptable language.
Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Mich., said the T-shirts are inappropriate and said he would let his supporters know about them.
“Can you imagine the outrage if I had put a T-shirt together like that for impeaching President Obama?” Huizenga said, according to The Detroit News. “First of all, my mother would have called me and told me, ‘Shame on you.’ Then I would have heard from my Republican colleagues asking me, ‘What in the world are you doing?’”
Huizenga is behind the times. In a crowded political universe, using expletives is just another way of getting attention. People might raise an eyebrow, but then, they’ll go back to burying their heads in their smartphones.
The point is simple: no one cares. And as someone who has great respect for the power and beauty of language, it’s a travesty. Language has now become just another weapon in both sides’ political arsenal, to be used, abused, twisted, mangled, and manipulated to make it less a precise means of communication than a way to achieve power.