Friends and Footwear
October 4, 2008
Movers and Shakers
November 18, 2008

My Word

I’m intrigued by how much emphasis has been placed on word choice throughout the presidential campaigns. Each candidate’s selection appears to reflect his or her persona.

Obama’s seemingly effortless way with words has marked him as great orator; Biden’s occasional gaffes when speaking from the heart of experience make him human; McCain’s Straight Talk slogan indicates a direct approach; Palin’s colloquialisms use a linguistic style to reach out to crowds.

Late-night talk shows, newspaper op-ed pieces, and numerous Internet sites all comment on the verbiage the candidates are using when they discuss the issues facing the nation. Living with a chronic disease, health care tops my list of concerns. When I studied the issue on each candidate’s official web site – www.johnmccain.com and www.barackobama.com – I was again intrigued by word choice.

Each stated the overriding challenges of the health care system – affordability, access, a focus on prevention. The big difference, however, had to do with the choice of words.

McCain’s site uses should more than twice as often as will. As in “health care should be available” and “families should be able to afford….” Should, according to Webster’s – the king of words – suggests obligation or expectation. When should accompanies a verb the pair express the mood of the action rather than the action itself. It’s like standing in the wings tsk-tsking rather than stepping on stage and taking responsibility for the scene.

Obama’s site states “The Obama-Biden plan will improve efficiency and lower costs in the health care system by. . .” and then lists three strategies. Throughout are words such as require, create, prevent, ensure. Verbs. Action words. I didn’t see any shoulds.

And on access to insurance with a pre-existing condition, McCain’s web site says, “…those with pre-existing conditions have the most difficulty on the individual market, and we need to make sure they get the high-quality coverage they need.” I did not find the action points behind the statement of need.

Obama’s plan on his site states, “Guaranteed Eligibility. Obama and Biden will require insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions so all Americans, regardless of their health status or history, can get comprehensive benefits at fair and stable premiums.” Will require.

Sure, there should be a cure for Parkinson’s. I’d like to believe there will be. In the meantime, I like knowing there will be health care coverage until then.

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