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Effect change? 引起变化

中国日报网 2023-11-17 13:41


Reader question:

Please explain “effect change” in this sentence: What do you have to do as a congressman in order to effect change over climate?

My comments:

“Effect change” is formal language. Here, effect is a verb. Mostly we see “effect” used in its noun form, as in, cause and effect, meaning result or consequence.

As verb, to effect change practically means to cause some kind of effect, to make something happen – in our example, to make change in climate policy happen.

So, to paraphrase: What do you have to do as a congressman to bring about change in climate policy?

Good question.

For starters, politicians have to acknowledge that climate change is real. Many people in America, for example, don’t even acknowledge that. Many conservative politicians say climate change is a hoax. But it’s real. Global warming is real. Ice is melting at an alarming rate in the Arctic as well as the Antarctic. Sea levels are rising and, in consequence, threatening the livelihood of island people and seaside lowlands in general.

Recognizing the problem, they then can do something about it.

Like what?

Like, for example, cut back on fossil fuel, replacing petrol cars with electric vehicles.

That’s just my two cents worth of advice. Congress people and politicians in general have better ideas, they must.

And they should act on those ideas, too, in order to effect change.

Real change.

All right, here are media examples of “effect change”, which is a set verb phrase and is not to be confused with or replaced by “affect change” (which is bad English, i.e. incorrect):

1. Back in the day, we might have flipped through the pages of ELLE or Vogue to see what Sandra Bullock or Madonna has been wearing. We would catch a glimpse of Gwyneth Paltrow’s pretty-in-pink red carpet moment or million-dollar-baby Hilary Swank in her backless blue gown. While celebrities were, and still are mostly aspirational, we looked to them essentially for entertainment. Today, celebrities have taken over our screens – they have a direct and steady line of communication with their audience. Social media has provided socialites with the largest platform to not only peddle their latest projects and pursuits, but to voice their opinions on just about everything. These opinions – and the conversations and worldwide movements they ignite (#MeToo, #BlackLivesMatter and the ice bucket challenge, for example) – influence, to varying degrees, every aspect of life, from what we wear to how we vote. Our consumption of stardom has gone beyond the realm of entertainment and 2020, rocked by social unrest (societal shitstorm seems more appropriate) and a global pandemic, was perhaps the year of celebrity of activism. From criminal justice reform to climate change and police brutality, there was an icon rallying behind the cause dominating our minds and screens alike.

Last October, the social upheaval in Nigeria as a result of mass protests against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARs) – known for carrying out unlawful killings and other egregious crimes against Nigerians for several years – reached a fever pitch when Nigerian military opened fire on protesters. Condemnation of SARs and expressions of solidarity with Nigeria swept across social media as various hashtags, the most widely used being #EndSARs. But some expressions of solidarity did not come quickly enough, prompting a call-out, most notably from Nigerian superstar, Tiwa Savage to Beyoncé. Tiwa’s claim sparked an online debate about whether or not celebrities should be the voice of humanitarian causes and whether they’re the right vehicle to effect change.

One might rightfully argue that given their massive following, celebrities have a responsibility to speak out publicly against social injustice. Take Kim Kardashian West: With a staggering 200 million followers on Instagram – the 6th most followed account on the platform – her advocacy of criminal justice reform did not fall on deaf ears. In fact, her efforts have been instrumental in the cases of at least five formerly incarcerated people, yet her involvement garnered significant criticism. For one, she had to work alongside the Trump administration and to some, that felt like an endorsement.

Another criticism that has persisted despite the significant progress she’s made is that her motives aren’t genuine. Or that there is an ulterior motive. While Kardashian’s public support of prison reform has yielded tangible results, the reality of performative activism cannot be ignored. Furthermore, there have been many activists working in the trenches for years, only for Kardashian to come along and dazzle everyone and get the credit, even if she’s not actually claiming it.

- Should Celebrities Be Activists for Social Causes? ElleCanada.com, January 22, 2021.

2. In governance, few instruments hold as much power to shape public policy and drive progress as appropriations bills. Each year, Congress wields this legislative tool to allocate public funds and, in doing so, influences the direction and priorities of the nation. Beyond mere budgetary consideration, appropriations bills serve as catalysts for change, allowing lawmakers to translate their vision into tangible policies. Often overlooked or overshadowed by high-profile debates, appropriations bills are where Congress truly flexes its policymaking muscles and charts the course for America’s future. As Congress mires deeper into political differences, the appropriations process becomes the tip of the spear for legislating, as members attach everything from small authorizing changes to wholesale authorization bills in year-end packages.

At its core, the purpose of the appropriations process is to allocate resources. By deciding how federal funds are distributed across government agencies and programs, Congress effectively determines the nation’s policy priorities. Whether legislators invest in education, national security, infrastructure, or biomedical research, appropriations bills direct resources to areas where lawmakers believe they will have the greatest impact. Through these funding decisions, Congress has the power to shape policy and respond to the needs of the American people.

Appropriations bills are not simply about disbursing funds; they also serve as critical vehicles for accountability and oversight. Lawmakers use the appropriations process to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of government programs. Through hearings, oversight, and established reporting requirements, Congress evaluates the performance of agencies and scrutinizes how taxpayer dollars are being spent. This oversight function ensures that policies are implemented effectively and that funds are used based on congressional intent.

The passage of appropriations bills necessitates legislative collaboration and compromise. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Appropriations committees. As lawmakers from different parties and ideological backgrounds come together to negotiate funding levels and programmatic priorities, they must engage in constructive dialogue and seek common ground – or inflict a continuing resolution or government shutdown. This give-and-take process fosters bipartisan cooperation, forcing elected officials to transcend political divides and work toward shared goals. By embracing this spirit of collaboration, Congress has the opportunity to move beyond partisan gridlock and find commonsense solutions.

The flexibility of appropriations bills allows Congress to respond to evolving societal challenges and needs. By adopting bills on an annual basis, lawmakers can shape policies and allocations to reflect the current state of the nation. Further, options to add funding quickly through supplemental appropriations bills, or to “claw back” unspent funding authority through rescission bills, allow lawmakers to remain nimble and responsive.

Appropriations bills are not mere financial documents; they are powerful instruments for driving policy and progress. They provide an avenue for Congress to set national priorities, provide oversight and accountability, encourage collaboration, and foster flexibility. By recognizing the profound impact of appropriations bills and their potential to effect change, we can ensure that Congress approaches the process with dedication, transparency, and a commitment to our national priorities. We would do better to embrace the significance of these bills, and of the Appropriations committees, as they hold the potential to shape our future.

- The power of the purse: How appropriators have outsized influence in shaping policy, TheHill.com, June 6, 2023.

3. You can pinpoint the exact moment when the line between politics and celebrity went from blurred to crystal clear. It was the evening of May 19, 1962, at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

That was the night Marilyn Monroe, in a gold, beaded gown by Oscar-winning French costume designer, Jean Louis, sang a breathless “happy birthday” to President John F Kennedy at a $1,000-a-head fundraiser in the Big Apple.

Monroe’s rumoured lover Kennedy would later call the sensual performance “wholesome”, while his wife, Jackie, who did not attend, would tell her sister Lee Radziwill: “Life’s too short to worry about Marilyn Monroe.”

The glamour of the Kennedy-era White House had all the stars of the day – Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, Bing Crosby, Angie Dickinson and Judy Garland – come running in the same way that modern celebrities turn up to fundraisers to support political aspirants.

“The connection between Hollywood and politics is not a new phenomenon,” says Carolyn Yaffe, a cognitive behaviour therapist at Medcare Camali Clinic in Dubai. “The Kennedy family aligned themselves with many famous stars to help Kennedy get elected and it worked. It was Kennedy’s father Joseph’s knowledge of the movie industry and connections that facilitated his son’s alignment with the Hollywood elite to help glamourise the Kennedy brand.”

While some celebrities are content to simply bask in the enduring Camelot glow, others see rubbing shoulders with politicians as a stepping stone to the next stage in their career, one that which a life spent in the spotlight of a similarly fickle industry and fame, has already prepared them for.


While hashtags and polls might tell you how a celebrity or politician is regarded at any given moment, the Q Score, developed in 1963 by marketeer Jack Landis, is a measurement of the likeability, familiarity and appeal of a brand, celebrity, company or entertainment product, such as a film or TV show. The higher the Q Score, the more highly regarded the item or person is. Some celebrities with high Q Score’s include Tom Hanks, Adele and Samuel L Jackson.

“Likeability is hugely important,” says Gleason. “If the message gets out that we, the public, don’t like this or that person, then that becomes ingrained in our psyche. It’s important to note there is no research to suggest celebrities can shape policy. They can elevate an issue to prominence using their platform, but to effect change, you have to run for office or a leadership role.”

And hand in hand with likeability is trust. When it comes to celebrities giving their voice to an issue or running for office, the public puts their trust in the fact that they’re not doing it for self-serving reasons such as fame, publicity or money, because they already have those things.

“Maybe voters trust celebrities more than politicians because their incentive is not necessary power,” says Gleason. “Celebrities don’t have to go into politics, but politicians do.”

- Celebrity politicians: why the glamour and power of politics remains fascinating to stars, TheNationalNews.com, November 17, 2023.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣  编辑:丹妮)


Stretched too thin? 过度分散


Freaking out? 极度兴奋


Scratching their heads? 迷惑不解


Make a spectacle of yourself? 现眼包


Person of interest? 疑犯

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