Jim Taylor's Columns - 'Soft Edges' and 'Sharp Edges'

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15

Feb

2020

My best New Year’s Resolution ever

Author: Jim Taylor

Back in January, I made a New Year’s Resolution, but I haven’t written about it, just in case it turned out to be like so many other resolutions that last only until someone puts chocolates on the table.

            Fortunately, my resolution wasn’t about chocolates. It was about superlatives.

            To put all of this in a grammatical context, we have, generally speaking, three levels of comparison -- good, better, and best.

            One: this is good. No comparison involved. 

            Two: the comparative -- this is better. 

            Three, the superlative: this is best. Or worst, in some cases. Ideally, again, of a number of known choices. The highest score among a specific group of competitors. The fastest time in a particular high school’s track meet. The lowest temperature this winter.

            But that’s not Donald Trump’s style. He chronically uses what I think of as absolute superlatives. Asserting, for example, that he was “the greatest president ever.” Or that something was the “worst trade deal ever made.” Or that Islamic terrorism is “the greatest threat the U.S. has ever faced.”


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7

Mar

2018

Creating a common enemy

Author: Jim Taylor

Another icon bit the dust recently.

            Back in the 1970s and 1980s, I worked among people who revered Saul Alinski. They took the side of the underdog – any underdog, it seemed. For 40 years, Alinski made a name for himself organizing those underdogs, particularly among the working-class areas of Chicago.

            Alinski summed up his ideology in a book called Rules for Radicals.

He started out as the darling of the leftists who wanted to raise the underdogs. In the strange ways that social change evolves, he ended up as the darling of conservatives who wanted to keep the underdogs under. The Tea Party distributed Rules for Radicals to its members. Donald Trump built his entire presidential campaign on personalizing an enemy. Or enemies.

            What the left initiates, the right will eventually co-opt.




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