Welfare is a dirty word: How the right hijacked American political discourse

“Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never harm me.”

 A fine sentiment, but any child subjected to cyber bullying knows that words do indeed matter.

Language evolves.  Sometimes a word that once was negative becomes positive, like “terrific” which originally meant terrifying.  Sometimes a word that was once positive becomes negative, as when “awful” changes from awe inspiring to very bad.

In politics too words matter, and in politics too language evolves. In the last 50 years we have witnessed a politically motivated sea change in the meaning of old words and the introduction of new words, all intended to undermine our sense of compassion.

The prime example is how we’ve changed the meaning of the word “liberal.” For almost 700 years the word meant generous, selfless, noble, tolerant. When the word began to describe a political philosophy it mostly retained its original meaning. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, aside from being “broadminded” a liberal is someone “favoring political reform tending toward democracy and personal freedom for the individual.”

For many of the same reasons the term liberal, once so positive became so negative, the word “welfare once so positive it was included in the preamble to the U.S. Constitution became a blasphemy.

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Posted by The NON-Conformist

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