Have you been watching the Democratic presidential debates? I’m pretty sure that in every single one, Bernie Sanders has repeated the EXACT same line, “I wrote the damn bill!” Whether you like Sanders or not, it’s a little strange to see someone running for President repeatedly use that kind of language. Before Beto O’Rourke dropped out, it seemed common place for him to drop f-bombs in press interviews. He even had campaign t-shirts that featured what seems to be his favorite word. These two aren’t the only ones doing this, and before you jump on me, it’s not a trait exclusive to Democrats (though I think they’re more likely to do so, but we’ll get to that). Is it just me? What is going on with politicians and their potty mouths?
History time, b****es!
Full disclosure – I come from a family that abhors using curse words. I didn’t even say “crap” in front of my parents until I got to adulthood. But when I’m around friends, my husband, or other people who use profanity in conversation first, I have a bit of a potty mouth. I know that when most people look at me, they assume I’m a sweet, soccer-mom type. Then, I stub my toe and out comes an em-effer! I still restrain myself around my family and anyone I consider mixed company. If I curse around you, consider it a sign that I’m comfortable in your presence. Or really pissed off. One of the two.
I think a lot of people follow this pattern. In the not-so-distant past, with politicians, you’d rarely hear them swear in public. If they did, it was always part of a slip-up. Anyone else remember former Vice President Joe Biden getting caught on mic telling then-President Barack Obama that the Affordable Care Act was “a big f***ing deal”? Cursing was something that public figures did in private, when they assumed no one was listening. Nowadays, with social media, in-home assistants, and cameras everywhere, privacy is in danger of becoming a quaint notion. Maybe people are letting their guard down, thinking that cursing is one of the tamer offenses they can be caught committing.
I’m running for president, m*****f***ers!
A recent analysis of politicians’ tweets found that their usage of profanity has increased sharply. From 2013 to 2016, they tweeted just over 400 profanities. From 2017 until the study completed in the third quarter of 2019, they tweeted over 6,000. That’s 15 times the profanities! Goodness gracious, someone get Twitter some soap to wash out those dirty mouths!
Some speculate that our heightened emotions in the political sphere at this point in history may be to blame. Certainly people are more likely to curse when they’re upset. Others say that it’s strategic. In the case of Democratic presidential hopefuls, their voters tend to be younger and less religious than Republicans. It makes sense that the candidates would want to seem in touch with their voting base. Though the candidates all seem very off the cuff, what they say is usually VERY carefully crafted. This actually explains why Bernie Sanders is stuck on that “I wrote the damn bill” line – it probably polled well, and most people don’t watch all the debates, so he can use it repeatedly to endear himself to as many people as possible.
The f***ing Oval Office!
Profanity could have even played a small role in the election of Donald Trump. Many people say they support him because he speaks for the “common man.” He is often seen as a working-class hero. (Y’all, I am working overtime to hold myself back here, but I want to stay on track.) What’s more relatable than a guy who talks the way that you and your buddies do at work? Obviously, there are more reasons that he was elected than his propensity for using coarse language, but it didn’t hurt him the way that it might have hurt some political figures.
No matter your political leanings, someone using a curse word will grab your attention, particularly if it is unexpected. In an election year, when so many people are fighting for your precious attention that often translates to your vote, expect candidates to pull out all the stops. That means that politicians and their potty mouths are probably going to be a mainstay. So, if you’ve got kids or live with grandma, be sure to have your finger over the mute button during the next presidential debate. If it were me, I’d probably forget to “mute” and then curse in frustration. Sorry, Mom.