The Corner

What’s in a Name?

ShopFloor has an update on the Employee Free Choice Act, otherwise known as “card check” legislation (some background here), and they report the good news that the measure looks likely to fail in the Senate. 

On a side note, I have to admit that, as much as I find the bill’s name fairly contemptible, it’s a pretty smart rhetorical ploy. Card check, while not entirely obscure (Rich Lowry and George Will both wrote columns on it recently), is one of those issues that doesn’t have a particularly large presence in public discussion — meaning that it generally requires some explanation and introduction when you talk about it. A label like the Employee Free Choice Act starts things out by sending good vibes about the bill (who doesn’t like “free choice?”) that have to be countered in your explanation. It also means that whenever you talk about it, you almost inevitably end up making some remark about how disingenuous, Orwellian, etc. the name is. (ShopFloor’s post, for example, calls it “the risibly named Employee Free Choice Act.” George Will’s piece called it an “exquisitely mistitled act.”) It’s necessary to do, but it puts you on the defensive from the beginning, forces you to take time to criticize the name rather than the actual policy, and has the potential to make one appear a bit cranky from the outset by complaining about a bill’s name. Now, it looks like it will ultimately fail in this instance, but as far as legislative strategy goes, that’s not bad for a four-word name.

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