Avoiding Crisis

political blogging…sorta

with 11 comments

Back in the day, before I was a mother, before I lived overseas, when I lived and worked inside the beltway, I was really quite interested and at-times involved in policy and politics, including campaigns and elections.

Back then I could get into heated debates over major policy issues and actually know what I was talking about. But that was before my everyday life kinda got in the way. My priorities changed.

Lately, though, maybe because the whole election machine is gaining speed, or maybe because my kids are less mommy dependent and I actually have some free time on my hands, I have found myself reengaging in the political world.

Over the past few months what I’ve found to be most interesting with respect to the political realm is not how much everyone else has changed or the new issues that have arisen (though most of the faces and the issues are the same) but how much I’ve changed. The biggest change I’ve noticed is that I’ve gone from being very domestic oriented in my interests to now having a real focus and concern with regards to international issues. I guess this makes a lot of sense given my location over the past 4 years.

Anyhow…since I’m in this political mood I figured I’d share with you a few of my observations about last night’s democratic debate….

1) All in all I think the debate was boring

2) every time Hilary Clinton spoke I felt as though I was being lectured to

3) If John Edwards used the word honest or any form of it one more time I swear I was going to reach through my computer screen and wring his neck. Yes we know that former President Clinton lied under oath oh so many years ago and that he was totally dishonest to the American people, and we can all see that his wife was sitting to your left and that every time you mention honesty you oddly enough move your left hand in her direction. We get it, we really do. It was a bit much.

4) The former Senator from Alaska, Gravel, the one that mentioned Vietnam and Korea and Harry Truman, was on one hand hysterically entertaining and on the other a complete embarrassment.

and

5) I learned something new and as a result completely changed my mind on an issue. I learned that there is a big big difference between the word national and official with regards to language.

    Last year, when the whole debate arose over whether or not Congress should vote to declare the official language of the United States as English I remember thinking maybe it was about time English was officially the the official language.

    Thanks to Senator Clinton for the lecture on the difference between official language and national language,

      clipped from transcripts.cnn.com
      The problem is that if it becomes official instead of recognized as national — which indeed it is, it is our national language — if it becomes official, that means in a place like New York City you can’t print ballots in any other language. That means you can’t have government pay for translators in hospitals so when somebody comes in with some sort of emergency there’s nobody there to help translate what their problem is for the doctor.

        blog it

    I realized that I’ve never actually wanted English to become the official language of the United States, I supported it being the national language. Which, it already is.

    I wonder how many other people don’t understand the subtle differences between official and national. Amazing, really, what the change of one word could do.
    And that folks is what I have to say about that.

    What do y’all think?

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    Written by nicolemarie

    June 4, 2007 at 11:27 pm

    Posted in politics

    11 Responses

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    1. I think, in its quiet way, it illustrates how much thought goes into ‘framing an issue’. Daily Kos and Needlenose gave me a bit of a goose in the conciousness department a while back when they posted bits on the ‘Overton Window’ : since then I’ve been alert for nuance.
      Nice piece. Don’t be a stranger and come ’round. I’ve been quite the busy beaver and love to share … it’ll hit you in the face when you come through the door.

      opit

      June 5, 2007 at 12:08 am

    2. Hmm. . .well I never realized it was an issue. But no, I don’t think we should stop translating for people who don’t speak perfect English. That would be awfully rude.

      Dawn

      June 5, 2007 at 7:56 am

    3. Welcome back to politics. I think Clinton made a great point about official vs national language, she framed the issue in a new way that most people have not been using.

      I would agree that for the most part the debate was broing, but that is mostly because Al Gore is not in yet (RUN AL RUN!!!)

      Mark F

      June 5, 2007 at 12:03 pm

    4. Substitute ‘frank’ or ‘direct’ for Edward’s ‘honest’ and you would only be seeing part of the current political dysfunction. Historical revisionism and pejorative description are consigning functional debate to the dust bin. It’s all about overall “impression”. Lying has been elevated to the next level.

      opit

      June 6, 2007 at 1:19 pm

    5. The only problem with her argument is that there should not be a need for ballots to be in any language except English. If you are a native citizen, then you should be raised speaking English, and you have to demonstrate competency in English to become a naturalized citizen. Therefore, the only reasons to have ballots in other languages is if you want to allow someone other than citizens to vote. Which, coincidentally, is against the law.

      Frank

      June 6, 2007 at 5:01 pm

    6. Since there is little need for more information on a ballot other than names of candidates and a place to clearly mark choice – the discussion seems a tad academic regardless.

      opit

      June 7, 2007 at 12:32 am

    7. opit – you wrote “there is little need for more information on a ballot other than names of candidates” – that is just not true. Okay sure, if we’re talking about voting for an elected official, like President, then maybe that would be the case, but ballots are much more complex documents than that. In many states you will find language pertaining to constitutional amendments, statutes and referendums on the ballots. Which brings me to Frank’s comment….

      Frank – yes, I agree that both native and naturalized citizens of the United States of America should speak English. I live in a country where the language is not my native tongue and I have made an effort to learn that language out of respect to the people and to make my life easier on a daily basis, and I’m not even a citizen nor ever will be. I expect the same from people living in the US whose native language is not English. But I know, better then most, that learning a language is a life long process and it takes time. And that some people are better at language acquisition than others. So if the only items that ever appeared on ballots were names of candidates, then I could even tolerate the idea of a one language ballot, but this is not often the case as I’ve pointed out in my response to Opit above. The language that is used to to describe some of the propositions that appear on ballots, regardless of how simplified the English is, can be very confusing, especially for a non-native speaker. My Spanish is pretty decent and if it was reversed, and the ballot was all in Spanish and no English appeared, I would have a hard time voting with 100% confidence that I know what I’m voting for. So even a native Spanish speaker that has recently become naturalized who has taken the time and effort to learn English, and now wants to exercise his/her right to vote, would probably have difficulty with some of the items on the ballot. And for me, if someone wants to exercise that right to vote and is interested in understanding the issues so to be able to make an informed/educated decision, I think it’s only right to include a translation.

      nicolemarie

      June 8, 2007 at 9:16 am

    8. I consider myself properly chastised. One for you.
      For me, learning a second language has been like pulling teeth – yet I sometimes get stuck with the job of muddling along because most others are worse. Of course, there’s a big difference between real-world experience and the classroom ( or was. It’s been decades. )
      It’s still a relief to talk to somebody who has bumped their nose up against the world a bit and isn’t reflexively negative.
      BTW French would be what I scathingly refer to as an exposure to a second language : for most of the Americas I couldn’t even tell you whether the people in a given country spoke Spanish or Portuguese, having mostly met people from Chile and Venezuela ( refugees ).
      I live in what most would call ‘redneck country’ or ‘Bible-belt’ where anything but English is looked at with a mixture of suspicion and disapproval – though the original settlers weren’t English ! It doesn’t stop at the 49th parallel – I hear the Brits are much the same.

      opit

      June 11, 2007 at 11:57 am

    9. Very well said nicolemarie! I couldn’t of said it better.

      Marisol

      June 13, 2007 at 12:12 pm

    10. well thank you marisol, o, a ti, yo puedo decir gracias! I find this topic/issue/debate very interesting. I’ve enjoyed reading your comments on Dawn’s blog and find myself in complete agreement.

      nicolemarie

      June 13, 2007 at 1:08 pm

    11. Yea, this has been a heated issue for me ever since i was in HS. I actually got into a very big argument with one of my teacher because I was speaking Spanish with some of my friends. OH all hell broke loose. I guess this issue really gets to me because i have lots of relatives who really don’t speak it very well and ofcourse are much more confortable speaking in their native language. They “ry” and speak it when they have to but like any of us do what makes us more comfortable. So anyway, love to read everyones opinion on this topic.

      Marisol

      June 14, 2007 at 12:36 pm


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