by Sam Schieren
“Words matter, my friends,” Hillary Clinton told a Des Moines, Iowa crowd on August 10th, 2016. “And if you are running to be president, or are president of the United States, words can have tremendous influence.” This after one of Donald Trump’s seemingly unforgettable yet oft forgotten unprecedenteds—suggesting “Second amendment people. . . . could do [something],” about Clinton’s potential Supreme Court choices.
For me, 2016 was a year in which words seemed more detached from their meanings than ever before in my lifetime. Vagueries erupted as social and political bombs, creating a national feeling that something must be done about something or else something terrible would befall someone, maybe even us. Who, what, when, and how seem to be left out of an equation that was full of answers for Why? (The Crooked Lying Cheating fill in the blank) and Where? (America, of course).
The following five words were at the front and center of the alarming 2016 American lexicon, and represent emotions, developments, and movements for which I believe this year will be remembered.