This story hasn’t really hit the news and I can’t think why. An Italian has been pretending to run as a presidential candidate in the US and thousands have fallen for the joke.
You couldn’t make it up. The BBC revealed last week that an Italian marketing professional Alessandro Nardone transformed himself 8 months ago into “California congressman” Alex Anderson who was running as a candidate* for the US presidency. This was for a gag, to promote a novel Nardone had written about this character, Anderson. As part of the stunt he launched a pretty comprehensive online campaign with the benign tagline of #americaisnow, and to his surprise it actually took off and after a while he was getting media requests to join campaign debates. He never even left his small town in northern Italy and friends helped him record a campaign video at the local bar: in the video he whizzes along on his moped waving an American flag to loud guitar music, up to a group of “supporters”, stopping short of kissing one man on the cheek. He has over 20,000 twitter followers and attracted more each time he slagged off Hilary Clinton.
Fair play to him – he’s a smart guy who pulled off a crazy idea, he clearly understands social media, and indeed probably knows more about the US than many of its actual voters. He even thinks Edward Snowden should be president (or did he mean to say running mate?).
Now as a language nerd (and this is a language blog) I wonder – how could he have come this far? Reading through his website and twitter account, you should be able to see something is not quite right, but no-one realised anything was up.
We’re talking, of course, about bad English. That’s not to say that native-speaking politicians, or their interns, displays full mastery of the language. Anderson/Nardone seems to walk the thin line – he has enough confidence to get his meaning across, it’s just all a bit wobbly in the delivery.
How did people go with his opinions – or even understand what he was talking about? Here’s his bio which reads smoothly enough, if a little odd (and hilariously fake):
Alex was born thirty-nine years ago in the heart of Los Angeles, and grew up in San Pedro with his mother Ann, his father Ron and his inseparable friends seagulls, which he used to watch at the harbor, every day at sunset. After graduating from Yale, Alex got a PhD in International law and economics and, after only a few months, passed the exam becoming the youngest District Attorney of whole California.
Then it gets stranger and harder to read:
…in this case, the young Anderson seems to have what it takes. What do I mean? Wanting to be vague we could talk about simple cursus but as the Huffington Post here love to be precise, we say Skull andBones. It tells you nothing? But of course yes, who does not know the secret society the most famous and influentialof the Globe? Okay. So happens that both Bush senior as Bush son they so proudly part, just like Anderson, starting from his grandfather, to get to the “small” Alex. Strange life, right?
Were those people who followed him actually paying attention beyond the headlines on the website? Wonderful headlines like this one:
Someone clearly did some decent proofreading along the way (you can still get one of these for just $6!):
And then, as usual, it’s the status updates written on the fly that really show that something is (linguistically) very wrong.
Didn’t anyone notice the Italian accent shining through here?
Or mixed-up possessive pronouns?
But this guy claims to have been retweeted more than Jeb Bush and has more twitter followers than many other candidates*. Which makes us wonder how important Twitter really is at this level of “politics”. That’s something to look at in another post.
But hey, we do live in a democracy. Even – apparently – one that can cross oceans.
*The complete list of declared candidates for the 2016 US election comes to 1,591. It includes characters like “Riff Raff”, “Luther T. The Merciless Lieutenant Ridiculous Warlord Stock”, “The Muslim Dictator Trump”, “Vladimir Putin” and the out-and-out “Antichrist”. But obviously you don’t have to be registered, or indeed real, to throw up on an online campaign.
About Wash your Language
I’d love to help you polish your English! I offer web copywriting and editing as well as translation from Norwegian to English and Italian to English. Read more.