Columbia, MO – Dr. Deborah Tannen, professor of linguistics at Georgetown University, is one of the foremost experts on gendered communication. Not “gender and communication,” the approach of many college courses speaking to the women’s movement and the relationship between the sexes, but communication in terms of a sociolinguistics, of “male-speak – female speak” communication is based on on our cultural and ethnic upbringing.
In terms of politics, we can assess our democratic system as male and female speak, or as I prefer paternal and maternal speak. The Republican Party is paternal, wanting us to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, letting us on our own to experience the good and bad devises of man and the market place. The Democrats are the maternal, wanting compromise, to protect and fix the “boo-boos.”
Like children, the American citizens are selective of which parent is approached according to personal needs. “Dad, support me as I move forward. Mom, hold me when things go wrong.”
The attitude of the maternal-speakers within our society has changed. Women are rising in the ranks of senior and executive management. They are making very strong and excellent decisions concerning business, finances and personnel, once considered the reign of men. Women are cops, firefighters, doctors, college professors… the list continues infinitum. In a word, women are becoming more assertive and paternal in their language and actions and it frightens the paternal speakers that they are losing control.
Unfortunately, the Democratic Party has not moved forward and is still in the compromising-maternal phase of gender development. There are times when compromise is the right tool. There are times when the government must come in to fix the problem. Now is the time for the Democrats to become more assertive and use the “parent voice” we all feared as children.
The Democratic members of Congress introduced a new jobs bill in February 2010, one that would add more funds to the economy as well as cut taxes for small businesses. The American people are looking towards their government to save their families from financial lose because of prolonged unemployment. The new bill would extend the unemployment benefits to those in need.
Progressive legislation was been held up by the paternal side of the family, demanding that their voice is the only right voice (pun intended). Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY), used his aggressive-paternal voice and the filibuster to attempt to block the much needed jobs bill, HR 4691. Senator Bunning, as well as the right leaning Tea Party and Libertarians, would have denied Americans jobs and assistance with unemployment and – read carefully – an extension of a government mandated healthcare option.
Now, the issue of healthcare is back on the table, with a growing distrust by the citizenry of the government’s ability to management a public healthcare system. Yet a 2009 Gallup poll shows that almost 30 percent of Americans are insured under a government run healthcare plan like Medicare and V.A. Moreover, those who are covered, conservative and liberal alike, do not want to lose those government provided benefits.
Why the disconnect? Because our paternal-speak leaders hate to lose regardless if they are right or wrong. We are told we must believe their misleading information and emotion filled propaganda or we will be punished. The American people must give in to power over reason. We must accept, dare I say it, the paternal right-wing propaganda.
Time is over for compromise. It is time that the Democrats stop being wishy-washy and force the issue of healthcare and cost containment. It is time to put the fervent right-wing obstructionists in their place. It is time that the Democrats leave their overly sensitive-maternal role and enter the world of the assertive and strong leaders of the family America.
It is the time for President Obama and the Democratic leaders of Congress to use that parental voice to members of Congress. Compromise is one thing. Action is another. We need action.
It is time for the Democrats to tell the opposition to back off so things can be done, done right and done right now.
David Rosman is a award winning professional speaker, editor, writer and college instructor in Communications, Ethics, Business and Politics. You can read more of David’s commentaries at ColumbiaMissourian.com. He welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.