Not gonna lie.
But I will apologize in advance.
I’m pretty wrapped up in politics right now. Several months ago I told Brian Hagberg, one of your fearless leaders at this delicious little publication, that I would be late getting a column to him because I needed a minute to de-politicize my writing. Unfortunately, I’m an actual writer, so I stand defenseless against the influence of the culture in which I am steeped daily. And America is wrapped up in politics right now. I’m also basically just a big old opinion with legs, so I can’t help myself from turning the conclusions I draw into a little weekly fireside chat to share with all of you. I’m hoping that in the near future I’ll be able to iron the remaining political kinks out of my robes and return to a steady diet of just whinging about my life. But for now, it’s red and blue, like the bruises left on our democracy after these past four years.
So this week I want us to gather ’round the story circle, kids, and let Auntie Stacey teach you some things about language. And why it matters. Like a lot.
Let me start by saying that it may sound like it, because of the feminism and the unvarnished honesty with which I adorn my opinions, but I am actually not on Team Big D any more than I was on Team Red Rover.
It’s more fun than Democrat and Republican.
I’m not sorry.
I’m an independent voter. So while, right now, I consider my candidate to have won, I could turn on him without downshifting, at any given moment, if he pulls any kind of funny business.
Just so you know, one of the things I find most endearing about people is when they love words and language with the same reverence and passion as I do. Joe Biden sounds like my grandpa, my mom’s dad when he was really really ticked off.
It was funny then and it’s funny now, Jack.
Anyhow, I’m kind of hung up on watching this particular transition of power, since it’s all the things those histrionic angry middle school civics teachers would rage on about in class, veins popping out of their necks and blood vessels permanently ruptured in one or the other of their twitching, heavy-lidded eyes. I honestly believed that all these dudes who freak out about our civic duties were just expressing their Great Depression PTSD in the only way they knew how.
Turns out no.
Turns out this giant lumbering machine we’ve built is actually kind of fragile.
Little things can screw its day all up.
It’s like taking care of a car.
If you don’t treat it to an oil change every now and again, one day the engine just explodes, and then everyone is all sad about it.
Four years without one iota of attention paid to all the tiny moving parts has left our ride in need sore need of a good pimpin’ if you ask me.
Language matters and Joe Biden is good at words.
I know. But you’re a jerk if you bring up the stutter.
You’re kind of an unbearable wretch if you suggest that the stutter is a manifestation of dementia symptoms.
It’s a stutter. It’s hard to make my lips and tongue do words too, sometimes. Sometimes, I have to pour every cell of my being into fully participating in a conversation. My brain and my body are not well acquainted. And anyhow, it’s easy to make people stutter. Stop them in the midst of an attempted coup, for instance, and question them about whether or not they read the Consitution they’re there to defend.
No, like the whole Constitution, my guy. Not just the parts you think say you’re allowed to storm a federal facility carrying pitchforks and bear spray even though the second amendment conspicuously neglects to imply your right to bear (haha…get it…because bear…yeah I know, I’ll see myself out) either of those things even a tiny, tiny bit.
They’ll start stammering like English isn’t their first language.
Which we know can’t be true, based solely on the number of confederate flags adorning their camo paintball body armor as they use an American flag to bludgeon a police officer on the steps of our most sacred political cathedral. You get caught speaking the Ess-Pan-Yolluh at one of those events, looking that kind of way, you’ll be seeing the business end of that flag next, homeboy.
If you look back through the footage, I think you’ll see that words have mattered a whole heck of a lot up to this point. Even little words. Words like “fight” and “fake.” Even that little four-letter word people seem to love beating up these days: “Fact.”
“Covfefe” maybe not so much, but okay. Maybe even that one, just a little, has made a difference.
You know that old chestnut about how our thoughts become our words and our words become our actions?
Turns out it’s kind of true. Philosophically, I have some issues with it, but for the most part, I think, we can look back over the past four years and see how the connotations and rhythms of the words that have been late-night scream tweeted at us from the darkest depths of the human ether have come to fruition in the terrible, tangible actions of January 6.
Now, I promise, I will not spend this whole column beating this dead horse further, but it does matter.
It matters because I’m a woman of my word, and as an independent voter woman, of my word, who’s a big fan of science, which is another reason I thus far approve of the choice America has so clearly made, I propose that we do an experiment. Let’s watch what happens over the coming four years, and let’s keep an eye on the words that come out of Joe Biden’s mouth, and let’s see what kinds of social changes we observe in our country – in ourselves, just as people – over that same course of time.
I have a feeling we may see some interesting things if the jarring change of tone is any indication.
And I sincerely hope that it is.
I like the way Joe Biden talks. I like how he says exactly what he means, all the time, even when it ends up getting him in trouble. It was a trait everyone adored in our last president. I think we really need to just develop an ear for this one’s oratory quirks and mannerisms because I think there’s a lot to like there.
Joe Biden says things like here’s a 200-page outline of things I’m promising to do to the very best of my ability, and here’s where you can download a copy of it yourself, for free. Joe Biden be starting this presidency with a dang syllabus, y’all. Only this time it’s not intro to organic chemistry and we get the rubric. We get to grade him.
And he seems profoundly aware of that fact because Joe Biden also says things when he’s swearing-in appointees, Santa hiring a new cohort of North Pole elves, like “If you’re ever working with me and I hear you treat another colleague with disrespect, talk down to someone, I promise you I will fire you on the spot.”
Oh, you guys. I am a 38-year-old single mother of twins. I am a woman scorned and one tired, existentially exhausted, mammajamma. I am, at my core, a collector of wrongs, so you best believe I got my dauber ready to pop that square on my Biden bingo card.
First time. I will write that man a letter, I crap you not.
“Um excuse me, Mr. Biden, I don’t know if you saw, but your person over there just called that person a hateful corn-fed Kansan and I believe you said you were gonna do something about that kind of thing. So I’m just over here waiting and all.”
He will feel the disapproving stare through my fancy expensive linen resume paper, my friends.
That’s the thing about Joe Biden, and Jill, that I can’t help but like.
I feel like I could see Joe Biden opening that letter if it ever got to him, and really taking a moment to say, “okay, alright, Stacey from Lander thinks I’ve been a bit of a stinker. Jill, come in here and talk this through with me, darlin’.” And then they just show up at my house with a box of cookies, because Jill Biden actually does things like that you guys. She showed up with a box of cookies for National Guardsmen and thanked them for protecting her family on Monday.
Who even does that? Even if it was a calculated and strategic move to divert some attention away from the listless Q followers roaming the Mall wondering what comes next and was any of this even real, or the crusty early-model boomers watching that 450 miles of US-Mexico border with a restless gaze, wondering how long before the hoards come to cast them into destitution as they consume all of the most lucrative landscaping and migrant farming jobs like the ravenous locusts they’ve been warned to expect.
Any minute now.
They’re definitely coming.
Just like they’re definitely paying for that wall.
When you least expect it.
Look, I know I’m being a jerk. It’s going to take empathy and compassion to erect a whole new scaffolding of collectively agreed-upon facts and realities over which we could potentially even begin to sling the pelts and bark sheets that will bring the first semblance of shelter to this post-Twilight Zone world into which we are all emerging, regardless of which side we were on in the dark, squinting and blinking against the blinding vastness of potentiality.
And maybe nothing will change. Maybe we can’t change enough to support what I enthusiastically concede alongside the deepest of skeptics are some pretty lofty goals from the Biden playbook.
But I think it’s really really cool that we get to see the playbook.
That there even is a playbook in the first place is really, I think we can all agree, just in terms of essential, bare bones expectations, an enormously auspicious development. Whether or not it’s a good one remains to be seen, and the fact that it’s being willingly offered for our perusal is the very best reason to pick up a copy and follow along. I’m already homeschooling, anyhow. I’ve got room on the class scorecard for one more, Joe. Welcome to the team.
If nothing else, I guarantee you that Joe Biden is at the very least the grandpap we all need in our lives right now.
But like the grandpap on our mom’s side.
Bernie Sanders and his glorious mittens clearly reign supreme over the less formal but still benevolent and loveable paternal side of our collective lineage, I think.