Yesterday, Senator Bernie Sanders tweeted something that, on the face of it, looks perfectly reasonable for a left-wing political leader to say:

The fact that Sanders says but instead of and in that tweet makes me want to gnaw off my own elbows in frustration.

But limits, diminishes, cautions.

It can even accuse, suggesting “You want x, but you’re ignoring/neglecting/forgetting y.” Remember Sanders’ comments early in his campaign, seeming to say racial discrimination is secondary to economics and class. They cast a shadow over that tweet.

Think that I’m just nit-picking? Consider this same tweet, using and instead of but:

“Yes, we need more candidates of diversity, and we also need candidates to be fighters for the working class.”

Which of those two tweets feels more like an objection, and which feels more welcoming?

Where but diminishes, and embraces, includes and expands.

As is, Sanders’ tweet suggests there’s a tension between diversity and working-class representation; the same tweet with and suggests they can reinforce each other.

I’d like but to come with a big red warning label. Leaders should have a legally-mandated 48-hour cooling-off period between thinking it and using it.

So by all means, use but. But use it with care and consideration.

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