The Corner

Power to the People

Impromptus today is the usual mélange, ranging from Russia and our Right to Oprah and Liberace. (Really.) I’d like to excerpt one item, then make a comment, which may amuse you (or not?):

There are perfectly good words — even honorable and noble words — that can make your skin crawl in certain contexts. I am beginning to feel that way about “people.”

“We the People!” people like to say. Often, I find, they don’t mean you and me — they mean themselves and their friends. Period. In France, Madame Le Pen’s slogan is “In the name of the people.” Uh-huh. Then there are “people’s republics” — etc.

When politicians, especially of a dogmatic or demagogic type, brandish the word “people,” beware.

Once upon a time in Washington, D.C., there was a chain called “Peoples Drugs.” They were all over the place. Later, they became CVSes.

Someone once said to me, “When I first got here, I saw all those ‘Peoples Drugs,’ and I thought, ‘What is this, Sandinista Nicaragua? Madison, Wisconsin?’ It seemed kind of commie.”

I knew what he meant. In Ann Arbor, we had “People’s” this and that as well. (Peoples Drugs, in any case, was a good capitalist enterprise.)

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