The No-Nonsense Dictionary of American Politics


In this presidential election year, we’ve been subjected to endless amounts of political oratory designed to win our votes. No matter whom you vote for, it’s important to remember that this rhetoric is often little more than well-crafted, focus group-tested talking points. As a public service, I have composed the following lexicon of some oft-used words in American politics to help cut through some of the b.s.:


Bipartisanship, n. the practice of Democrats and Republicans coming together to agree on what’s worst for the country, and to see to its implementation. Cable news, n. a 24-hour television medium through which the public becomes misinformed. Campaign, n. a glorified fundraising contest held by reincarnated used car salesmen. Capitalism, n. a mythical economic system in which the decisions of irrational humans lead to optimal outcomes. (The) Children, n. a group invoked to justify the enactment of laws that will do irreparable harm to said group for years to come.   Congress, n. a legislative body whose seats are up for auction in even-numbered years. Conservatism, n. the capitulatory belief that it is better to destroy government than actually attempt to improve it. Conservative, n. a person who wants America to return to a time that never was. Constituent, n. a minor inconvenience. Constitution, n. the most widely-praised and least read document in American politics. Debate, n. a rhetorical spectacle in which candidates promise everything for nothing. Earmark, n. legislative K-Y Jelly Elitist, n, adj. a term elites use to disparage other elites in an attempt to win the votes of non-elites. Incumbent, n. the devil you know. Intelligence gathering, n. the process of obtaining secret information that will be used to justify dumb policies to the public.   Isolationist, n. a person who opposes endless war. Job creators, n. deities who are said to lord over the economy, and to whom sacrifices are occasionally made in the form of lower taxes and cuts to social programs.    Justice, n. a moral judgment meted out by the state on those who could not afford to buy immunity from it. Liberal, n. a person who wants America to progress to a time that will never be. Liberalism, n. the improbable belief that government is capable of being improved. Lobbyist, n. one who engages in the lawful bribery and corruption of elected officials. Mudslinging, n. a form of negative campaigning that is widely condemned and universally practiced. Neoconservatism, n. the belief that bombing a country without provocation will convince its inhabitants of the bombers’ moral superiority. Politics, n. the process by which most people are made worse off. Presidential election, n. a contest held every four years to decide who will lead the country backward. Public, n. an elusive and fickle entity whose opinion is solicited by pollsters and appealed to by candidates, and is ignored by both the day after the election. Pundit, n. an expert who is wrong most of the time, but is asked to continue rendering opinions for the foreseeable future. Sound bite, n. the basis upon which most political discourse takes place, and upon which most votes are cast. Super PAC, n. a giant pool of speech. Terrorism, n. the targeting of civilians with violence by organizations and countries other than the U.S. and its allies. Undecided voter, n. a person waiting for a date that will never arrive. 

Feel free to add new words and definitions in the comments section. 

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