"The Aldrich Alert"

It’s Our Map! Give it Back!

Everyone’s seen the electoral map by now. It’s unsurprising that so much of it is colored in favor of Republicans, but I have a question: If it’s our map, why don’t we get to pick the colors?

Who are these mystery people (I’ll call them MP’s) who control how the important matters in our lives are presented to us? Over the years, I have marveled at how certain words are chosen to soften or harden a circumstance depending on the desired outcome. And, just like my checking account where alterations rarely fall to my favor, the words the MP’s choose are rarely in favor of the Republican or Conservative way. For example, matters related to immigration. When foreigners crossed our borders without having stood in line, made application for a visa, and waited their turn, well, we used to call these persons illegal aliens.

But the MP’s could see that the continued use of the words “Illegal Alien” would cause ordinary folk to actually shun the hoards that move into our cities and onto our lists of the disadvantaged and entitled. So, the MP’s decided that they should be called “undocumented workers”, which of course implies something totally different. In fact, the label “undocumented worker” suggests that the person who used to live in, say, Mexico and now lives in, say, Los Angeles simply forgot to fill out some forms and is gainfully employed, or at least actively seeking work.

Did you or I get a phone call or a letter in the mail seeking our approval for this change of words and phrases that took an entire class of people from lawbreakers to objects deserving of sympathy and respect, not to mention our tax dollars?

Of course not.

We weren’t asked about that any more than we were asked when the MP’s painted the entire country Red to represent how many counties Republican voters controlled. I personally like the color red, but only if it’s painted on a fast sports car, like a Corvette or a racing Porsche. I don’t like it painted on an entire country. It looks, well, bloody. Maybe that was the not-so-subtle point that the MP’s were trying to make.

I was raised to think Reds were bad people, Communists in fact. Why all of a sudden is it appropriate for Republicans to be Red, while the actual group that is sympathetic or at least passive about Communism gets to be the more pleasant, Blue? Shouldn’t they be the Red ones, or at least Pink? Maybe we should have a new color called Pinko?

It’s our map. We own it, and we worked hard to get it. Doesn’t the winner get to define the terms? I think the country should be painted Green and Pinko. Don’t you think that would look neat? So, let’s do it.

Here’s another example: Shouldn’t we now get to call bums, bums again? We used to call them bums, but then the MP’s couldn’t use them as a political football because nobody could really be sympathetic toward those living on our streets and urinating in our alleyways who refused to do a day’s work for a day’s pay.

And when all those seriously mentally ill were released to the streets because somebody said they were being treated unfairly in mental institutions, MP’s could not use words that implied mental sickness, could they? Because if these walking wounded were truly mentally sick, they would belong in a hospital for the mentally ill, am I right?

Because the MP’s had been winning for a long time, in fact thirty years, and pretty much controlled the way things were done and said in most every important institution, they were able to rename this pathetic group of human misfits “The Homeless.” As a result, instead of these poor souls getting the real help they needed, they were treated as if an evil force in the universe – the Republicans – were forcing the homeless to live on the streets.

Republicans, like Ronald Reagan, were painted as mean, selfish, and incompetent because, if not for the Republicans, there would be jobs enough for everyone and, thus, homes for everyone. And if somebody just could not work for whatever reason, they would still have a home, see? People would not have to live on the streets, if only Republicans were not in charge.

Lots of things have been said and written during the past thirty years that were unfair to Republicans, and we pretty much had to grin and bear it because we were not on the winning side. But, now we are. So when the MP’s, whoever they are, use words and phrases to bend and shape the news and the truth, we need to get right out in front of them and stop them before they have a chance to “install” the word or phrase into daily use.

Right now I am thinking of the word “insurgent.” It has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? It’s not too evil sounding, and, actually, it sounds more like something that cannot be controlled, like the tide, right? The tide surges in, and the tide surges out, and nobody can do anything to stop it – but the tide is neither bad nor good. The word “insurgent”, like the word “tide”, is a neutral word, and that’s my point.

Our fighting men and women are being killed in Iraq by insurgents, and the use of that word puts their death into a different context, doesn’t it? It lessens their sacrifice, because if our brave soldiers were being killed by terrorists, then their deaths would have so much more weight, so much more value.

If their deaths meant more to us as a people, then that collective meaning would fall to the favor of President George Bush, wouldn’t it? And the MP’s can’t have that happen, can they? Thus, “insurgent.”

Except the MP’s are not in charge anymore, are they? We won, so we get to pick the words, don’t we? So, why is this still happening? The answer is there are three kinds of power. There is actual power, perceived power, and assumed power. The MP’s have long possessed all three kinds of power because they won elections and the general population accepted their rules. As a result, the MP’s got to pick the rules, and they also got to pick the words. But now, they only possess the assumed power. They still have the assumed power to choose words, because too few on our side have demanded that they give that power back. Power is never given away. Power is only seized, and it now belongs to us.

But we need to take it back, or we’ll never get it back!

The MP’s are probably laughing to themselves when they consider how dumb some of us Republicans really are. The MP’s still choose the words, and, like a bunch of idiot Parrots, a lot of us start repeating their word choices without giving a thought to how an important thing is being distorted with the use of a dishonest word or phrase.

Maybe too many of us, after having been losers for thirty years, cannot free ourselves from the mindset of a loser. Maybe that’s why we still allow the real losers to hold on to power –are we just too timid and polite to be winners?

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