“Mobility Leadership”

Michigan was once the home of the automobile industry.

It is now the home of “mobility leadership,” as it is styled by its current governor, Gretchen Whitmer.

What is meant by that, of course, is something not exactly the same as implied by the face-value meaning of the words. “Leadership” implying something you might want to follow because it is worth following; i.e., a sound example.

People such as Whitmer mean you will follow – even if you don’t want to.

They don’t say that, of course.

For the same reason these authoritarians always “ask” when they mean tell (and you’d better, or else). They engage in these etymological obfuscations for the obvious reasons. They prefer to pretend (and that you agree) they are merely sagacious “leaders” and they are being willingly followed on account of their  . . .”leadership.”

Just as Stalin liked to pretend he was merely a “general secretary” rather than the Red Tsar, a communist autocrat whose personal rule was more absolute (and murderous) than any of the Romanovs who preceded him.

But these etymological manipulations are necessary fealties paid by the authoritarians to a principle they despise but must pretend to venerate, in order to cloak their narcissistic diabolism with a mantle of “just doing the people’s work” legitimacy. And it works alarmingly well. All too many people put up with authoritarianism – welcome it, even – if it is presented in the right way.

If the right words are used.

“Mobility” being another such.

It sounds like what it seems to mean. That being – essentially – freedom of movement, being able to get wherever you need to go on your own terms. The thing which personally owned (and untethered) cars gave people – average people – for the past 100-plus years. But when someone like Whitmer – and for that matter, the car industry, today – uses the term it means something else.

Something contrary.

It is a term often used interchangeably with a phrase – transportation as a service – which is perhaps a bit too explicit and so obvious and hence the preference for the more benign-sounding, almost anodyne term.

“Mobility.” Who could object?

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