Unhelpful Words: Arugula

10Aug08

Welcome to the start of a new segment on the blog I’m going to call Unhelpful Words.

The idea? There are words that have infiltrated our political discourse that are entirely unhelpful in a policy-based context. They provide no substance, context, or otherwise about the political figure the word refers to. At best, one might say the word refers to a “feeling” or an “impression” people have of the person, but if I wanted to hear about feelings I’d go watch Dr. Phil, not the Situation Room.

So, in that light, today’s word is: arugula. Wikipedia makes no mention of the context of the word, only noting that in the US it is considered as “belonging to a niche market.” While not explicitly political, much of the political use of the word can be derived from the niche concept, where it’s used to try an indicate elitism and out-of-touch-ness with common people.

Thus, the purpose of this word in political discourse is to create a sense of separateness between the politician at hand and the people. It has absolutely nothing to do with policy, nothing to do with beliefs held by the figure, and nothing to do with anything that would actually impact the lives of voters in the future.

In the way that some issues are considered “wedge issues,” you might consider arugula a “wedge word,” designed to offer no increased understanding between people. As such, I have to deem the word aruluga an entirely unhelpful word for political discourse.

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