I just finished watching the second season of House of Cards on Netflix, and above all else it leaves me wishing I had more control over my words. These politicians pack so much rhetoric into every word, and Frank especially can convince just about anyone of anything with just a few sentences. The interaction between language and politics might be a good direction to take my research.
In Revolutionary Characters, Gordon S. Wood writes about the controversy that was what title to give George Washington when he became President. It was on the floor of Congress for debate for weeks: Chief Magistrate Washington, His Highness Washington, Protector of the Liberties of the People of the United States of America Washington, even King Washington were all considerations. In the end they decided on President Washington, even though this title was almost laughable at the time. The House wanted to keep Washington humble, while the Senate worried that certainly no one would take him seriously with a title as weak as the President of the United States of America.
'President' was on the same level of prestige as 'foreman' or 'overseer.' A president was the leader of a club or a meeting; certainly not of a country. Clearly that has shifted now. Today, 147 nations have a President. The word has new meaning.
Politicians try to use words to their advantage to try and shape reality, when in fact, reality changes words. We could have called him Peach Tree Washington, but when Peach Tree has a fleet of drones, you respect the Peach Tree.