January 25, 2021

Cracking the political code

Posted on 21. Aug, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Politics

What our country desperately needs during these last eleven weeks leading up to the Presidential election is a reverse ‘code-talker’ to help us decipher the true meaning of the political newspeak being served up in advertising, interviews and speeches by the two parties’ candidates. Let’s explore a few of the more recent examples…

1. ‘Paying their fair share’ – Decoded: the administration believes that there is a definition of what a fair share of anything is, but that they are either reluctant to tell the American people what that definition is or admit that they really don’t have one.

The phrase is often paired with a controversial idiom and concept, social justice. Both are related to a belief in income redistribution. To be fair to income redistribution disciples, our tax code has been doing social/economic engineering and re-distribution of wealth since 1913 when the income tax was enshrined into law by the 16th amendment. The more cynical among us may also be reminded of another famous quote in the same vein, “From each according to his ability to each according to his needs.”

2. “You didn’t build that” – Decoded: a Freudian slip (maybe) of the Presidential tongue in August that refers to small business owners.

It means that you as an individual are part of a greater whole – a collective – and that the credit for anything you’ve built or done to increase your wealth or standing like engaging in hard work or good decision-making MUST be shared with the rest of society to be considered fair. The Progressives worry that if you are able to take full credit for what you’ve done, you might oppose the federal government taking your fair share in taxes, hence the collectivization of your toil. What naturally follows is a debt owed to the American people by American businesses.

3. “Y’all will be back in chains!” – Decoded: a certainly inappropriate and possibly racially-charged comment made recently by the Vice-President, presumably about black Americans being returned to slavery if they vote for the opposition who would take the country backwards to a time of economic or other bondage. In short,“vote for us and you will continue to enjoy economic security through government entitlement programs.”

4. “Saved or created jobs” (as it relates to the so-called ‘Stimulus Plan’) – Decoded: the Administration added saved jobs because they knew that an increase in created jobs would be too difficult to achieve and thus they could fall back on the saved jobs number when created jobs didn’t materialize.

5.  “Kick the can down the road” – Decoded: a very worn out term meaning to procrastinate or put off making a difficult decision (like passing a budget which the Senate hasn’t done in over three years). Usually meant to demean the other side’s willingness to tackle the tough issues.

6. “This guy” – Decoded: often used to diminish a person, make him/her less legitimate (frequently used instead of this gentleman, this man, my opponent, President blank or Governor blank, etc.).

7. “Extremist” – Decoded: frequently employed by the candidates’ political surrogates to conjure up a mental picture of a ‘Molotov cocktail throwing radical’ with an agenda that will turn back the clock to perilous times of social and economic uncertainty.

8. “Social Darwinism” – Decoded: recently used by the President to describe the Republicans’ budget and specifically their proposed welfare (entitlement) program changes. Great sound bite and works on the college campus, but makes the President sound like he’s rehearsing for the Mensa Society instead of speaking to the folks.

Taken from Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and natural selection (in Origin of the Species), the President’s phrase alludes to purported Republican socio-economic policies that would promote unchecked growth and the influence of special interest groups on the rest of the country.

You probably have your own favorite political code words or phrases that raise your hackles, and I would encourage you to dust off your decoder ring and find their true hidden meanings. By the way, raising your hackles refers to the hairs on the back of a dog’s neck which stand up when the animal is angry or threatened. Isn’t our language rich even in an election year?

- Editor


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