Words Matter

New York Times front page, Afternoon of January 6, 2021

I lived and worked in Washington, DC for 20 years. My first job there was in the early 1980’s at what was then known as the General Accounting Office (it’s now called the Government Accountability Office), a part of the legislative branch. I worked as a GS-3 law library technician. A GS-3 was (and no doubt still is) pretty much the bottom of the barrel in civil service rank. I was a clerical gofer responsible for the most menial of tasks.

I also loved that job. I was proud to be one of the tiniest of cogs in an agency whose mission was to support and serve the Congress.

One of my occasional duties in those pre-internet days was to run over to the Capitol and pick up printed committee reports. Security was pretty lax back then. You’d sometimes have to check-in at a security desk, but mostly I could just flash my GAO badge and walk through with a friendly wave. It was absolutely thrilling to walk those hallways, filled with historical plaques and portraits of former members of Congress. In a word, it was humbling to be there.

Like so many yesterday, I watched the events unfold at the Capitol in utter horror. Spurred on by the untruthful ravings of a president unable to square reality with the gilded self-image he so desperately imparts to the world, his followers fervently marched up Pennsylvania Avenue to heed his call. They had been summoned earlier by him, and now they were ready to follow through on his desires.

At a rally at the Ellipse prior to the march on the Capitol, the president remarked to his supporters: ““We are going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women,and we are probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them — because you will never take back our country with weakness.”

His words did not fall on deaf ears.

I sat in my living room aghast at the raw video footage on our TV of an angry mob jumping over security barriers, shoving and punching police, breaking windows, and forcing down doors. They created absolute mayhem in entering offices and the chambers of both houses, as members of Congress were in the process of voting on the certification of the Electoral College. Unlike my own experience in those same hallowed halls, this mob was anything but humbled.

Four fatalities took place during the melee.

Later in the day President-Elect Biden spoke to the nation. His words on presidential rhetoric are worth noting:

The words of a President matter, no matter how good or bad that president is. At their best, the words of a president can inspire. At their worst, they can incite.

For four years we’ve watched President Trump break norms on presidential behavior and political discourse. To his most fervent admirers, his utterances have been a breath of fresh air. “Candor,” they’ve called it. All too often, however, his words have also conveyed a darker message of hate, division, and violence.

Source: Washington Post

We learned from those who attempted insurrection yesterday just how far a president’s words can be taken. Words do matter, sometimes with deadly consequences. Let’s pray that more people will come to realize that now.

Until next time…

33 thoughts on “Words Matter

  1. That was my hope last night. But now I see that Trump phoned in to an RNC meeting and they all told him, “We love you.” There’s room for optimism, but not as much as one might like. These supporters aren’t going anywhere. So sad. So scary.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi, Jane. Indeed, very scary. I read about the RNC meeting as I was writing this. I don’t think the RNC is ready to understand that the inter-storm is about to hit them. Romney’s speech on the Senate floor last night I hope has wings behind it for many in that party. Let’s hope so anyway.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Amen. Words matter.

    I’ve just come away from an online conversation in which I said, “Since he’s lost his usual social media platforms, all that’s left for him is Pinterest.”

    Most of people clicked the “ha ha” button and left comments in support.

    One gal, though, said, “Good old censorship should solve all our problems. 😉”

    I don’t know what to make of the winky face, but I’ll leave that for the moment. The more important concern was that her remarks forced me to articulate my position on of censorship.

    In my own head, that is. I refuse to engage online.

    I haven’t managed to do that in a way that will allow me to win any debate. But in my heart I know it’s correct that his platforms have been taken from him. He was using words as weapons and he needed to be disarmed.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Good for you in holding your fire, Maggie. Social media arguments rarely get resolved. They just end up sullying one’s beautiful mind. So, good to let it go and focus on things that are more rewarding.

      I certainly agree, though: his rhetorical weapons needed to be disarmed. Let him stew a bit in his own juices.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Yep, words matter. Kind of the subtext of my life, and to see them misused yesterday by tRump made me angry and sad… and oh.so.tired. I read what Biden wrote and thought: now there’s someone who understands power. How long until he is our President? Can we hang on until then?

    Liked by 2 people

  4. It’s astonishing how many republicans are feigning surprise that trump has sunk to this level. That they couldn’t see that he resided there all along is laughable. Now, come the resignations… are they truly leaving because they are “disgusted” at his dangerous attempt at a coup, or are they just trying to get out so they can attempt to wash the stink off them?

    Liked by 4 people

  5. I normally steer clear of political discussions for a lot of reasons, but yesterday is an exception. Yesterday set us back as a civilized nation, and even though I think many things will level out with some class at the top, there are a lot of people who will continue to be swayed by tweets from a person who clearly has no concern for the USA or its citizens. I’ll leave it there, but it’s going to be a long, long time before those images leave my mind.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Perfectly put, Judy. Believe it or not, one my personal blog rules (broken way more than I’d prefer here) is to NOT write about politics. In the last four years though, so many instances have forced me to say something to get it out of my system. Wednesday is again one of those instances. Yes, a little bit of class at the top will help things a tiny bit.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. GS-3…I like your everyday, GS-3 perspective on the normal ins&outs of being in ‘service’ of the government at the Capitol…and sense of awe that you got to be a ‘part of it’.
    I, too, watched as it all unfolded – incredulous, yet realizing it was an ultimate pre-Finale to T.Rump’s reign. (sorry, had to word it that way – I’m getting that out of my system here, too!)
    Strangely, after the ‘active’ insurrection was cleared – seeing the continuance of Congress getting on with the work of counting the electoral votes and finishing the task they’re placed in office to do was calming & reassuring.
    However what’s next in store for these final days???
    Staying hunkered down during COVID carries double duty in other areas now, I think.
    Stay safe, Marty!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Love this response of yours, Laura. We have to find our own comic relief… or any kind of relief right now.

      I don’t know what’s in store for these final days. 25th Amendment, impeachment, resignation all are brandied about right now — perhaps recklessly or possibly they are realistic. I honestly am unsure about it all. But I do know one thing: In 12 days we will have a mensch in the Oval Office again. And for that I am grateful.

      You stay safe too!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m not a fan of Biden or Trump, but I’m so sick of all that’s been going on, that I can’t wait for a change. Any change. I wonder who some of these people are and I’m shocked at some of the people I thought I knew that are defending Trump to the end. People that I thought were intelligent and had common sense. It’s very scary. I hope we can recover from all of this.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow, Marty, aside from it being your country, a cog in the wheel and how you walked the hallways. I can feel your emotion. Yes, “aghast.” “Insite” or “inspire”……..very sad the direction it went. You hit home with “words do matter.”

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hey Marty, Sorry I have been such a stranger. It has not been a good year to be a travel blogger. From your days working in the capitol, you have a unique perspective on the sickening events of last week. Thanks for sharing your perspective, and here’s to Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, democratic control of Congress, and the great light at the end of this dark, corrupt and embarrassing tunnel.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good to see your name and comments again, Joe. I can really appreciate how the pandemic must be affecting you. Your wings are effectively clipped. I do look forward to seeing posts from you again once we get an all clear to live normally again. Will you settle for a semblance of normal at least? Stay safe, and let’s at least cheer sanity in the White House again.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. debscarey

    Eloquently expressed Marty, but as others have expressed, I do worry that not enough of “his” people are having the scales drop from their eyes. It was disappointing to see so few Republicans support the calls for impeachment for example. As one of your commenters expressed, Biden isn’t an exciting choice, but thank goodness he understand the responsibility of the role. I wish you all a peaceful few years & hope it comes to pass.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Deb.

      Ten Republican members of the House voted for impeachment, which I agree seems like not many. But considering none voted for it during the first impeachment, this is some degree of comfort. Although I’m not optimistic that the Senate will convict him this time around either, I do think he’ll get more than the one vote he got previously (from Senator Romney).

      Biden is definitely not exciting by any measure. Which, coincidentally, makes him all the more attractive at the moment. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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