Is it Ever Okay for Politicians to Swear?

Is it Ever Okay for Politicians to Swear?


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Featuring: Matthew Ryan, Esq. Flushing Law Group

As a conservative, my thoughts on this issue have evolved over the last twenty years.  While at one time the notion of having a politician cussing would have been a disqualifying act in terms of my ability to vote for the said politician, I now feel that such an act is no big deal if done sparingly and non-gratuitously.  The fact is that our culture has changed over these last thirty years and while I once thought that politicians should be role models for the youth of today, I no longer feel that is the role of politicians in twenty-first century America.  

Today, a politician must be real and authentic above every consideration if he wants to spearhead a political cause and he needs to mirror the times we live in.  I admit that I find it personally sad that the era of cussing being negatively perceived is a fact of a bygone time but I recognize that politicians are a mere reflection of our American culture in the modern era.  Ultimately, I would not hold it against someone if they did not want to vote for a politician who cussed as being too coarse for the culture, as I once thought similarly myself.

Depends On Words

Featuring: Vivian Young, Senior Content Manager, Website Greenlight

Potty mouth should be banished from the political arena. Period. Leave it
out of speeches. Zip your lip during impromptu media appearances and don’t blurt it out in an effort to look cool in late night talk shows. And for heaven’s sake, ditto in the Twittersphere.

To clarify, I’m talking about f-bombs and serious swear words starting with
b, d, f and s. Don’t make me spell it out for you. Use your imagination.

Politicians should set examples for all of us, from small children and high school students to the elderly. Granted, young kids won’t understand complicated terminology pertaining to economics, job growth, immigration,
and health care reform. But they will understand swear words when uttered by an adult.

I don’t care what you say behind closed doors or off mic. We are all guilty
of using swear words to an extent. I just don’t want to hear it on a political platform. Politicians need to lead by example. There’s a huge difference between being labeled foul-mouthed versus the occasional swearer. Too much-unchecked profanity has the potential to hurt, to wound and, to anger the receiver.

I will give you the respect you deserve. It’s okay to be human. Just keep your emotions in check. And resurrect swear words that your grandfather said back in the day – dagnabit, holy moly, fiddlesticks, son of a gun, and hell’s bells. That’ll get people’s attention! And maybe their vote.


Featuring: Aïda Muñoz, Producer, The Actor’s Workshop

This is a subject dear to me. I most emphatically believe politicians should not swear in public! The discourse in social media and even out in a real-life public place is already coarse enough — people casually spouting profanities, obscenities and vulgarities that are by their nature and definition ugly and offensive to many. It’s like screenwriting: you can certainly pepper your script with f-words to make it seem real but it does not constitute good writing. Far better for a public person to show control and restraint. I say this because I work with children and am sensitive to what they pick up in the media. Now, in private, people should be able to express themselves a little more loosely. I also believe that some things expressed privately should not be spoken of in the same way publicly. 

This was a sore point recently when a Congresswoman from my state, Representative Rashida Tlaib, hurled an obscenity about the president. While I agree with the standpoint, I did not like how she chose to publicly express it! Representative Ocasio-Cortez made a smoothing-over point that it was a curse word uttered in a bar, but even so, a politician needs to exhibit more professional speech. 

Depends On Who

Featuring: Gary Schneeberger, President & Chief Leonine Officer, We Roar

It depends on what that politician’s constituency expects of the politician. In other words, if his or her political and personal brand is maverick, millennial, straight-shooter, about people, not politics, then, it’s not only OK, but probably a plus, to drop a few salty words on the campaign trail or in a press conference. Ideology makes little difference here: Beto O’Rourke and Donald Trump can both drop f-bombs in speeches because those who support them view them doing so as evidence of their not being like other politicians. Swearing is the new black in appealing to the new or fed-up voter. 

But imagine George W. Bush — a favorite of the Christian right, the guy who said as a candidate that Jesus was his favorite philosopher — going all Gordon Ramsay in a stump speech. He was the son of a president, the scion of the political Ewings or Carringtons. Using his just-us-guys voice in a political context would have disappointed many of his supporters and alienated more than a few. Hillary Clinton likely would have the same limitations — diametrically opposed politically, but also a branch on a political family tree from whom a little more decorum was expected — at least in public discourse if not private behavior. 

Ditto for someone like Ted Cruz — currently holding hearings to scold digital entertainment companies freezing out ads for the pro-life film UNPLANNED. His profile is that of a family man and family champion — he needs to speak in more traditional, measured, beyond-the-locker-room ways to fit his brand and the expectations of his base. In the same way, Elizabeth Warren is probably not going to be tossing about George Carlin’s seven dirty words you can’t say on television — she’s projects as the country’s feisty but classy aunt. Nothing to gain for her by going blue. 

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