The word ‘platform’ is a TRIP! It begins simply enough – literally, a flat surface. But specifically, one that is constructed, built – and thus, raised in some fashion.
And so it goes, unchanged, for hundreds of years, even unto today. From railroad platforms to the system upon which the entire online world has been coded. It is the framework upon which other things are built.
And it is also the raised surface from which one speaks one’s mind – the pulpit, the podium, the witness box, the soapbox, the stage – and now, the Twitter, the FB, the ‘gram.
In 1803, though, the word takes on additional meaning. It begins to mean not just where you physically stand, but where you stand in your beliefs. Suddenly, the same word is used for the raised surface itself AND what you say while you’re standing on it.
Since etymology will generally refer to temporal origins in terms of mid-17th century or 1540s, I thought 1803 was pretty damn specific for that shift – and it’s specifically tied to US politics.
So … why 1803? The US presidential election of 1800 offers up a lot of clues. It was a hotly contested (and oddly, familiar right now) MESS. This was the first election to usher in a two-party race for the white-wig-in-chief, a serious effort to influence the electoral college … and it got nasty, y’all!
To prep the field for his run, Thomas Jefferson wrote to a friend “a profession of my political faith.” And then ‘platform’ is off like a rocket.
And just like that, the SAME word connotes both the position you speak and the position from which you speak it. It’s kinda neat, right? One word now combines a physical and philosophical stand.
To “stand up,” means to “stand for.”
That’s the word, bird.