Sunday, August 24, 2008

The wonders of the internet (or you may be coining a phrase without even knowing it)

I've been a user of the internet for a very long time, and a talk show fan even longer.  The reason these intersect is how both have broadened the participation in opinion-making and creating catch phrases.  What got me started thinking about this has been the 'Bradley effect' question being brought up in relation to the Barack Obama campaign.

For those unfamiliar with the term, the 'Bradley effect' refers to the 1982 campaign for Governor between Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley and state legislator George Deukmajian in California.  Bradley was the first black to win the Democratic nomination for Governor, facing the white Republican common referred to as "Duke."  Polls all the way up to election day had Bradley handily winning the gubernatorial race, then the strangest thing happened:  "Duke" won.  What many opined is what happened is that white voters were telling pollsters what they thought would make them look non-racist, as in supporting Bradley, then when they got in the polling booth they voted for the white guy anyway.

Which brings me back to the subject of my post here.  I was living in California at the time that happened, working as a night watchman at a leather tannery and listening to the San Francisco talk radio station KGO (unlike most of today's con or lib stations, it was a nice mix of both at the time).   I was feeling disappointed in the election results and listening to KGO's late night talk show host Ray Taliaferro discuss what the election switch was all about.  I decided to call and suggested that we give this a name, "The Bradley Effect."  Ray liked it, and as far as I know, I was the first to give that electoral surprise it's name.

That might have been my only contribution to the American political vocabulary.....until the internet got going.  On the web, I think I did it about 3 more times.

Let me set the stage a little first.  I've been a politics junkie since 1972 but always had to wait 2 years for election campaigns and my 'fixes'.   Then came a politics addict's dream - the internet.  I no longer had to wait for election years and the opening of campaign offices to get my high, all I had to do is log on and there it was.  There was daily political news but then I found Nirvana - there were actual chat rooms about nothing but politics filled with other junkies just like me!! 

I was in heaven!

By accident, I also discovered something about the internet - namely, you never know who you're talking to or who is reading what you have to say.  One day during a politics chat room session, the subject was how political points are repeated to get them across and how it was particularly successful for the conservatives to much of our dismay.  Offhand, I referred to this habit of the right as a 'mantra' (a particular phrase repeated over and over during meditation).  The next day, in the bad old pre-Air America days when we who loved talk radio were stuck listening to only rightwingers, I heard none other than the 'great' Rush Limbaugh refer to the left's mantras - a term I'd never heard him use before.

Was he in the chat room when I posted that or was it just coincidence?  Who knows?!!

The other two catch phrases that I think I started weren't accidental at all.  It was the election of 2000 and the Republican members of the Supreme Court had essentially assured the first term of George W. Bush by stopping a statewide recount in Florida.   The fury of us on the left-of-center side was palpable at what we saw as the theft of a national election, and it didn't stop at the Republicans as we watched the Democrats roll over and let it slide instead of fighting (seemingly an never ending and aggravating trait of the Party of D).

I decided, after cooling down a little bit, that these thieves didn't deserve the names supporters of other Presidents who won fairly had earned.  Reagan had his Reaganites and Clinton had his Clintonites - I decided the Bush people didn't deserve such honors. So I went for something that I thought would demean them a bit - I called them "Bushies" at every opportunity on the web.  In fact, I'd decided that theentire conservative movement deserved a taste of that for doing the deed of making the #2 guy the President no matter what.  So, again online, they were no longer right wingers - they were to be "righties".

And I'll be durned if that didn't catch on to the point where I was seeing "Bushies" and "righties" everywhere I turned.  Again, I don't know whether I started those terms or not, all I know is that I was the first and only one to use those terms where I went online for quite a while before they started popping up in calls to CSPAN and liberal opinion pieces.

Whether that could happen now is a good question - back when I believe I started some phrases the internet was much smaller with fewer platforms than the thousands of political chatrooms, blogs and email groups there are now. 

Can it still happen?  I think so...I mean really, I can't have been the first to refer to John McCain as "John W. McSame"....could I?

 

 

 

1 comment:

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