The old “class warfare” metaphor is in the news and blogosphere again, thanks to Newt Gingrich’s $250,000 Tiffany’s bill. Republicans use it every time Democrats use the “T” word. (Taxes, that is. Not tea.) Now we’re hearing Dems use it to express ire over rich folks’ Tiffany bills.
The only thing worse than the class warfare metaphor is the number of people who fall for it. So we propose an exercise as a cure.
Write down some random nouns. Choose one. Now swap it for a political metaphor. Suppose your chosen word is carrot.
Politician: The Democrats are waging class warfare.
You: The Democrats are really waging a class carrot.
Now try to justify your strange choice. Some people may not like carrots, but they’re good for us. You have to uproot things to get a carrot. Taxes are like carrot seeds—their goodness is hidden at first. And so on. Now, what if your word was planet? Or box-top? Or gumboil?
So what’s the point of this exercise? To show how easily justified—and equally silly—most political metaphors are. Imposing taxes on the rich are indeed like waging war, in small, trivial respects. But the policy is equally like a carrot. Or a box-top. And not like any of these things.
Every kid should be taught this inoculation technique. It’ll lead to a less gullible electorate.