Leave it to spell check to provide an insight into political candidates’ favorite words and turn of phrase.
All it took was a “g” and an “e.”
An errant nonsensical word in a lengthy Q&A with a specific city’s council candidates is what started the unexpected revelation — a “ge” hanging out in the middle of a sentence for no good reason short of this transcriber’s fat finger and sloppy, fast typing. Spell check highlighted the suspicious non-word for consideration but doesn’t have a delete button allowing its outright removal. The answer was instead trying the “replace all” button which seemed to do the trick. A secondary spell check pass through the document, however, revealed my genius to be short-lived.
Spell check removed every use of the “g” and “e” together. Most people, myself included, probably never pay that much attention to how often those two letters help form words. Even less cognizance is given to how often those letters help form words beloved by political hopefuls.
Take this question-and-answer piece, for example.
Once spell check had its devious way, peppered throughout the article, the candidates spoke of “toether,” “bigst challen” which should have read together, biggest and challenge. Over and over again, like a magnifying glass held over the candidates’ own explanations of city highlights and issues, the phrases and words affected by the spell check gaffe illustrated familiar refrains.
Remove them and one is left with either a really bizarre Mad Libs approach to political reporting or the impression that, rightly or wrongly, many of the candidates have similar mindsets and homogeneous methods of communicating.
For example, the budget — never was there another “ge” word that popped up as frequently in the conversation as the catch-all for city finances. Of course, this makes perfect sense. Without the budget, the city doesn’t have the ability to do much else.
General also gets some ink, particularly when referring to the general fund of the previously addressed budget.
Engagement — civic engagement, community engagement. You name it and the candidates always want to engage it. Guess that formal phrase sounds better than plainly getting (or would that be “tting”?) everybody to start paying attention, attend meetings and stay informed ahead of votes, referendum threats and elections.
The aforementioned together — we must all work together. We must come together. Partnerships, mergers and shared services are hot ticket ideas lately which means — wait for it — working together. Even investing in one’s community and committing to making it a great place to live takes team work. Again, togetherness.
When it comes to election-oriented words, let us not forget biggest and challenge, preferably used together to address the city’s greatest issue and hardest-to-solve problems.
Manager got at least one mention and diligent also earned an appearance because it is only fair to get the city manager some credit and remind voters of the need to stay on top of matters.
If budget is among the most common words uttered by people running for office, challenge certainly gives it a run for its money. Every city, it seems, has challenges. Thank goodness these council hopefuls are ready and able to be diligent, at least generally speaking.
Passage is another popular refrain although it really doesn’t pop up as much when a jurisdiction isn’t talking about proposed taxes or ordinances.
But the true test of these candidates’ mettle isn’t in what they say now, it is in what they actually do if lucky enough to win. Candidates can say anything they want when campaigning but post-election is when we see if they follow their promises to the letter.
Michelle Durand’s column “Off the Beat” runs every Tuesday and Thursday. She can be reached by email: email@example.com or by phone (650) 344-5200 ext. 102. What do you think of this column? Send a letter to the editor: firstname.lastname@example.org