Question of the day

March 14, 2016

When did the majestic plural become the default for US political candidates?

Is it just me or is it particularly jarring when a populist man of the people like Bernie Sanders uses it?

10 Responses to “Question of the day”

  1. Jonathan Badger Says:

    It depends on how “we” is meant. You seem to be interpreting it in the royal sense of “We are not amused”, as opposed to “we” recognizing that politicians, no less than scientists, don’t really work alone but have staff, colleagues, and supporters.


  2. drugmonkey Says:

    My problem is that it gets so habitual that they don’t only use when referring to, say, “our campaign” which indeed requires a normal plural. It bleeds over into places where it is about attaining the office itself. Something along the lines of “Our chances of winning the race have improved….” is where it start to tip.


  3. jmz4 Says:

    I think it becomes kind of a security blanket. I noticed after writing scientifically for a while I became quite resistant to using “I” when describing any results.


  4. David Says:

    “Our chances of winning the race have improved….”

    I thought politicians did this to build a sense of comradery. It’s not one guy going into office, it’s US. So send me your money, vote for me, tell your friends to send me their money and vote for me. All those volunteers during an campaign, they think they are friends with the politician.


  5. Jonathan Badger Says:

    Which is fine unless you think like Charles Guiteau that this bond means you are owed an ambassadorship….


  6. Banditokat Says:

    I say ‘we’ meaning me and my tapeworm a lot


  7. The Other Dave Says:

    Politicians in a republic (or democracy) are supposedly representing their constituents. They are not supposed to be speaking for themselves. “We” is therefore *especially* appropriate for populists.


  8. drugmonkey Says:

    I don’t share Varmus’ “litmus test” approach. And the quoted bit from Sanders as to why he wasn’t supporting human cloning was consistent with his knee jerk anti-corporatism. Potentially this is why he is all gung-ho on GMO labeling as well.


  9. k elliott Says:

    I am for Hillary anyway. I like some of Bernie’s ideas (universal health care, college education etc) as many of young people do but recognize that these ideas are not feasible at all in the context of the USA and its history. And it would be a waste to vote for him (just my opinion). I have some reservations on Hillary and one of them is that she will keep Collins at NIH where a change is very badly needed. But one has to choose the less damaging of the two alternatives. Have become very skeptical about politicians and politics. However, no voting is not an option for me.


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