What sets apart Obama’s “Yes, we can” from most of the current Democratic candidates’ slogans?
The government and media call them “immigrant detention centers.” They are meant to be temporary holding facilities—up to 72 hours—for migrants and asylum-seekers crossing the southern US border. But the average length of stay has become much longer and the facilities have become overcrowded and unsanitary. In a word, the conditions are inhumane.
The political struggle over the Mueller report illustrates the tortuous social life of a text—especially a text fraught with high political stakes for a sitting president. Special counsel regulations required Robert Mueller to communicate his “prosecution or declination decisions” in a report to the attorney general who would then provide a summary to Congress—ensuring the report would pass through several links of a twisty speech chain before reaching the public.
Ardern’s pronouncement before parliament illustrates how naming is integrally linked with social practice while demonstrating what moral and political leadership looks like in a time of national crisis.
When it comes to policy arguments around complex issues like climate change, the messenger can be just as important as the message in mobilizing support for policy responses.