Campaign Catch Phrases


It’s always a little weird when people insist they want their country back, as it supposes there was a time when the nation was exactly like they wanted it. Not to mention that it often seems to be rich white guys saying this. If you feel powerless, how do you think the rest of us feel? A guest on the most recent episode of Real Time with Bill Maher pointed out just how old this argument is, with people thinking opposing factions had hijacked the American Revolution. He said that both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders appealed to people with such a mentality, only on opposite sides of the spectrum. I have to say that I don’t think the Sanders supporters ever DID have much control over the country. It’s pretty much inevitable that people with more resources and connections are the ones in charge, and the progressive position is that this needs to change. We don’t want our country BACK; we just want to have more say than we do now and have historically had.

There has certainly been a lot of progress over the years,including the expansion of voting rights to people who don’t own land, minorities, and women. On the other hand, there are recent decisions like corporate personhood and Citizens United that are basically throwbacks. History is not a straight march forward, and there’s the question of whether certain developments really are for the best. And some people these days are just SO wealthy that even other rich people are somewhat powerless in comparison. Also, for some reason, it seems that people who DO have money and power, far from living the carefree lives that you (or at least I) might expect, are instead always worried about losing it and are constantly seeking more. I’m sorry, but even though nobody likes paying taxes, I can’t be all that sympathetic to an ever-so-slight increase in the upper-class tax rate. It’s even more ridiculous considering how high their tax rate was a mere sixty or so years ago, not that they didn’t find loopholes even then. I also can’t really sympathize with people who aren’t rich but make all their decisions based on the fact that they could be someday (Joe the Plumber from John McCain’s campaign was a good example of this), or anyone who’s upset that someone else has been granted the rights they had all along.


Another kind of annoying thing I’m always hearing from politicians is that they want common-sense solutions. I’ll admit that common sense has never been my strong point, but it’s basically knowledge most people are expected to have in everyday situations, right? But the situations that presidents and legislators have to deal with are not at all common or everyday, so how would that apply? There’s no one simple way to address foreign policy, nuclear proliferation, climate change, or the budget. No matter what you do, there are going to be pros and cons, and often unforeseen consequences.

It seems like people don’t want to grasp how complex such issues are, and want to think there are really easy answers that our leaders could do if they didn’t obfuscate everything. And that leads into another obnoxious political phrase: “I’m a uniter, not a divider.” I seem to remember George W. Bush saying this a few times.

You know, the guy who likely lost the popular vote the first time, started unpopular wars with no exit strategy, and ended up with an approval rating somewhere in the twenties. Yeah, way to unite the country! But it’s not just him. Doing pretty much ANYTHING in politics is going to be divisive. How could it not be? It’s especially ridiculous when people who say they’re uniters refuse to compromise, but it’s not like compromise isn’t controversial.

The Affordable Care Act was the result of compromise, and it’s constantly criticized by both the right and left. It’s all very well to reach across the aisle, but you can’t do that across every aisle at once. By the way, “reach across the aisle” is another stock phrase that candidates use constantly.

Maybe we need to have buzzers that sound at debates and speeches when people use these phrases. While we’re at it, do Republicans have to keep accusing Obama of “leading from behind”? Can’t they at least explain what it means?

Not that it would make sense to vote based on how original someone’s language is, but the whole game gets obnoxiously repetitive after a while. Anyway, God bless America. I just wish the nation would stop sneezing so much.

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