Glossary of Relevant Terminology

Language matters. (For a fantastic and always meaningful argument as to why, see George Orwell’s 1946 essay, “Politics and the English Language.”) But politics breeds euphemism and obfuscation—at its worst, as Orwell says, “to name things without calling up mental pictures of them” and “to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable.” So it is increasingly important that we not only be informed, but be vigilant with media outlets, friends, relatives, and co-workers who too easily buy into highly-partisan terminology.

In addition to this glossary, there’s a great dictionary of “hot-button terms from every perspective” available at AllSides.

Affordable Care Act (ACA) — “Obamacare” (outline of key features from Health and Human Services)

alt-right — Neo-euphemism for neo-Nazi white supremacists. (Fight it, and call them only what they are.) This is the “alt-right.” They exist, and they are now unashamed. (Clear, simple discussion here, from The Boston Globe, on neo-Nazi attempts at spin.)

authoritarian — “Favoring or enforcing strict obedience to authority, especially that of the government, at the expense of personal freedom.” Also “Showing a lack of concern for the wishes or opinions of others; domineering; dictatorial.” (Oxford)

Brexit — (British exit) The UK’s withdrawal from the European Union

climate contrarian — Climate change denier

corporatism — “The control of a state or organization by large interest groups.” (Oxford)

cuck — “The term ‘cuckservative’ originated in the ‘alt-right.’ It’s a portmanteau of ‘conservative’ and ‘cuckold’ used to describe Republicans who are perceived to be emasculated or ‘selling out’.” (source: LA Times)

demagogue — “A leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power” (Merriam-Webster)

dossier — “A collection of documents about a particular person, event, or subject” (Oxford)

fascism — “An authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization.” (Oxford)

gaslight(ing) — “Manipulate (someone) by psychological means into doubting their own sanity.” (Oxford) After the 1944 movie Gaslight, in which a husband does so to his wife. Good article here, from everyday feminism.

gerrymandering — “Manipulating the boundaries of (an electoral constituency) so as to favor one party.” (Oxford) Great, practical example from the Washington Post here.

GOTV — Initialism for “get out the vote.” Get yourself involved in GOTV efforts as local and interim elections approach.

hijabi — A woman or girl who wears the traditional Muslim hijab head covering

isolationism — “A policy of national isolation by abstention from alliances and other international political and economic relations” (Merriam-Webster)

judicial activism — An approach to judicial review in which a judge is more willing to decide constitutional issues and to invalidate legislative or executive actions (Britannica)

judicial restraint — An approach to judicial review in which a judge tends to refrain from deciding constitutional issues, and defers to the views of the elected branches (and invalidates their actions only when constitutional limits have clearly been violated) (Britannica)

kakistocracy — “Government by the least suitable or competent citizens of a state” (from Greek; Oxford)

kompromat — “(Russian: компромат, short for компрометирующий материал) is the Russian term for compromising materials about a politician or other public figure. Such materials can be used to create negative publicity, for blackmail, or for ensuring loyalty.” (Wikipedia)

libel — “A written or oral defamatory statement or representation that conveys an unjustly unfavorable impression” (Merriam-Webster) The Trump administration will surely claim libel till it’s orange in the face. Remember that truth tends to be an absolute defense against claims of libel.

MAGA — Trump supporters Twitter hashtag initialism for “make America great again”; see also Mexican American Golf Association

majoritarianism — “The philosophy or practice according to which decisions of an organized group should be made by a numerical majority of its members” (Merriam-Webster)

megalomania — “A delusional mental disorder marked by feelings of personal omnipotence and grandeur” (Merriam-Webster)

MSM — Initialism for “mainstream media”

normalization — A process by which once-radical or obscene ideas and actions come to be accepted as “normal” and taken for granted

Obamacare see Affordable Care Act (ACA)

oligarchy — “A government in which a small group [of individuals or corporations] exercises control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes” (Merriam-Webster)

PAC — Acronym for “political action committee”

plutocracy — “Government by the wealthy” (Merriam-Webster) For example, when one’s “cabinet picks have more wealth than one third of American households, combined.”

quid pro quo — “A favor or advantage granted in return for something” (Oxford). For example, the favor or advantage of a cushy cabinet position in return for massive campaign donations.

snowflake — Pejorative used by the “alt-right” to denote those they deem to be weak, whiny, or entitled (for example, anyone who disagrees with them).

stare decisis — “A doctrine or policy of following rules or principles laid down in previous judicial decisions unless they contravene the ordinary principles of justice” (from Latin; Merriam-Webster)

supply side economics — see also trickle-down economics; A theory suggesting the economy can be improved “by providing big tax cuts to businesses and wealthy individuals (the supply side). These cuts encourage investment, which then creates jobs, so the effect will be felt throughout the economy.” (simple description from Spark Notes; for in-depth explanation, see Investopedia; plus a good article from Democracy)

trickle-down economics see also supply side economics; A theory suggesting the economy can be improved “by providing big tax cuts to businesses and wealthy individuals. These cuts encourage investment, which then creates jobs, so the effect will” trickle down to others. (simple description from Spark Notes; for in-depth explanation, see Investopedia)

trumpism — Loosely defined as the policies advocated by Donald Trump. Four main characteristics here, and spot-on psychoanalysis of the phenomenon here.

xenophobia — “An unreasonable fear or hatred of foreigners” (Dictionary.com)

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