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Words to Leave Behind in 2021
While there is no doubt that these words that rose to prominence in 2020 will be with us for a while, I for one am hoping they become outdated sooner rather than later.
“Normalize” - No word had haunted me on a daily basis than this word. It means “to make normal” that which should not be made normal. Perhaps the intent here was a good one but it turned into a catch-all to excuse any and all bad behavior by collective Twitter and censorship by the press. Because they didn’t want to “normalize” Trump, stories were not reported, not told, not linked to. There was a thick blue line that said nothing good Trump did, nothing good Melania did, nothing good anyone in his administration did was to not be reported or to be reported as a bad thing, even if it benefited the public. It could not be “normalized.” I think I hate that word.
“Problematic” - it’s mostly gone out of style, or it is certainly on verge, but it’s the word that launched the entire “cancel culture” wave of hysteria that started small and got much bigger. “Problematic” just implies that there is room for misinterpretation about someone’s action that must be addressed. Once things whipped themselves up into peak hysteria that word no longer really applied. Why use “problematic” when you can simply shout “racist!” Or “Pedophile!” or “RAPIST!” “Problematic” just doesn’t cut it anymore. We’ve moved onto the hard stuff and the hit isn’t the same.
“Cringe” - we used to use cringe a lot back in the day. It meant something you felt embarrassed by. It was usually something someone said that sounded awkward or out of date. Today it’s used by Gen-Z, and older people trying to be like Gen-Z, to react to things that are “problematic” - usually involving race or racism but anything “problematic,” really, so as not to “normalize” it.
“Fascism” - yes, I know it’s a tall order to imagine getting rid of fascism, The Word but it’s lost all meaning at the hands of 2020. Now it means something some celebrity tweets mistaking whatever Trump’s presidency was for fascism. Maybe he wanted it to be fascism - perhaps that is what he was aiming for - perhaps that is what he played on Twitter but Trump was never a fascist. When Fascism arrives you will know. The government has to be involved for it to be actual Fascism and so far the Biden/Harris administration has not yet begun to infringe upon these rights. Trump could have been a fascist had he ordered lockdown at the beginning of COVID. If he ordered people off the streets and did not allow any protesting, if he shot people who spoke out against him, if he shut down Twitter, if he shut down all newspapers and if he demanded a singular viewpoint from the American public then you would be getting close to actual fascism.
Which political side seems to be okay with policing speech and the press? or advocates for removing books from schools and lesson plans, historical figures from the record books, removing any trace our past to please our present? Only one side is doing that and it wasn’t Trump’s.
“Democracy” - I hate to pick this scab because no one really wants to believe that all of their talk about Trump being a threat to Democracy or the GOP not believing in Democracy or Trump being a dictator (another word that been stripped of all of its actual meaning) but the fact is that “Democracy” is in the eye of the beholder. It does not belong to one side of a political fight. Not in America. For Democracy to work it has to occasionally be messy and fought through. After all, during the fight for Slavery or Civil Rights disrupting “Democracy” or the established order was necessary and essential.
So you might laugh at the Trump folks being compared but when we’re talking about a country for the people and by the people they absolutely have a right to fight for what they believe, as long as they do it legally. So far, the fight against the election results isn’t disrupting Democracy. Democracy is humming along just fine - it is uncomfortable, perhaps, and an obstacle to calming things down in this county but this is not a coup and it’s not sedition and it’s not treason.
Sneering at the “deplorables” has not worked out that well for the left. The two Americas, the two different realities, the two sets of news - none of this bodes well for the future. A debate in Congress over the election is a better way to navigate this moment than crying about Democracy. If America can be undone by one Donald J. Trump then it was not that strong to begin with. But America is strong.
The election was unprecedented. Rules were made at the last minute to accommodate the pandemic (even though people were still allowed to shop in markets and stores) and the majority of the Democrats voted by mail. That was enough to make many distrust the process, not to mention Trump telling them they could not trust the process. If you actually care about America you will fight for her and that means making the better case. All we seem to be getting is shaming and eye-rolling and attacking and demonizing. Acting like hysterical chickens in a henhouse is exactly what drives power towards Trump anyway. Democrats have been in crisis mode from day one — it hasn’t helped anything. In fact, it’s made it worse. Now we’ve opened the door — WE DID — to what delegitimizing an election looks like.
Democrats refuse to give an inch, even after treating Trump and his supporters like human garbage for four years. Trump was never treated like the President, nor was Melania treated like the First Lady. Democrats chased Trump with everything they possibly could to subvert his power. Some of this was great, like the protests against the Muslim ban but a lot of it was petty just to be mean. A year out of an election they decided to impeach him. The Republicans believed they were doing that because they didn’t think they could beat Trump in November. Whether or not that was the reality, it seemed absolutely insane to impeach a president one year away from an election. Let the people decide.
After all of that, after four years of being told Trump was a Russian asset, that he cheated to win, that he was not considered legitimate, that his wife and daughter and family were criminals and grifters - never once praising anything he ever did that was good (see: “normalize”) now they expect the Trump side to just walk away with their heads bowed in humiliation? What planet are they living on? So instead of railing against “Democracy” why not trust in Democracy? Let it play out. Let people debate and rage and argue and investigate. When it’s all over with, I’m sure half of the American people will see Biden as illegitimate, just like so many did for the past four years but at least millions of people will believe they were fairly represented in government.
Most people I know on the left don’t want unity. To tell the truth they seem like they’d be happy if Trump supporters were tossed out of the country (at best). You have to give a little to get a little and Democrats gain nothing by not giving an inch.
A few bonus words and phrases I never want to hear again:
”Do better.” (ARGH)
”Resist” (For thee but not for me)
”OK Boomer” (got old fast, thankfully)
”Smash the patriarchy”
That said, Happy New Year.