Thursday, June 02, 2011
Does a symbol mean anything if people laugh at it? That is what the Democrats were doing to the Republicans during and after the House vote on raising the debt limit ceiling. Democrats called the vote a "charade" and even Republicans were careful to alert Wall Street that it wasn't to be taken seriously. So, what was the value of the vote? Did it communicate any more earnestness about the national debt that the President didn't already know? Hardly. The White House is deep in negotiations with Vice President Biden leading the way on finding ways to cut the debt while raising the ceiling. Perhaps the symbolic act of the vote was more for the Republicans themselves, to remind themselves of the need for solidarity on the issue. It certainly seems lost on anyone else. The lesson is that if you are going to use a symbol, make sure your intended audience accepts its intent.