Today, I had originally planned to post a News Roundup, but I’ve been falling behind. I just need to read the news for myself right now and try to put up something for my readers by the end of this month. For now, I thought I’d write up a political dictionary instead so I could have an early post for this week at the very least.
What is a political dictionary, you might ask? Well, it’s no different than a normal one, except it focuses on political terms. Mine will be a little different, though.
I want to primarily focus on terms I know and want to address for clarification. For example, I want people to be clear what I mean when I refer to “progressives.” There may be other terms my readers may be unfamiliar with, so this will be a place to store that information.
In addition, there may be terms that deal with Internet fights or movements which might not look political on the surface but turn political and/or overlap with politics.
At the time of publishing, this post will be incomplete because I will only leave you with a few terms. Some of the terms may have already been addressed in some of my previous posts, but the definitions here will be short anyway.
Of course, there may be new terms which arise in the future. In any event, this post will be updated.
Edit (July 27, 2017): This list of terms is based on my likeliness to use them for my Rift on the Left series. I will link back to specific terms so readers can quickly find my definitions.
Edit (February 13, 2018): Whew! I’m finally done with the list. I just need to go back and code the page for easier navigation. By the way, I’m thinking of making a real dictionary to include far more terms.
(11:03 PM PDT): Done!
List of Terms
Here are the terms (I stopped counting) I plan on using in future posts. Of course, they include many terms I use before, but most if not all these terms will factor in the Rift on the Left Series.
- 1994 Crime Bill
- Baby Boomer
- Bernie Bro
- Black Lives Matter
- Blue State
- Campaign Finance Reform
- Classical Liberalism
- Democratic Party
- Democratic Socialist
- Defense of Marriage Act
- Election Fraud
- Electoral College
- Fight for 15
- Green Party
- Horseshoe Theory
- Hyde Amendment
- Identity Politics
- Libertarian Party
- Mainstream Media
- Men’s Rights Activist
- North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
- North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
- Phishing Scam
- Ranked-Choice Voting
- Red State
- Republican Party
- Reverse Discrimination
- Reverse Racism
- Silent Generation
- Single Payer
- Smear Campaign
- Social Justice Warrior
- Third Parties
- Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
- Two-Party System
- Voter Fraud
- Voter ID Laws
- Voter Suppression
I think I’ll stop here. But dang … there were a lot of terms connected to the past election.
1994 Crime Bill
The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (called the 1994 Crime Bill for short) was anti-crime legislation signed by President Bill Clinton on September 13, 1994. The law called for a federal assault weapons ban, the elimination of inmate education programs, the expansion of the death penalty, and the “three strikes” sentencing mandates at the federal level. There was also a provision for “truth in sentencing” (TIS) laws, a requirement states needed to meet in order to get funding for more prisons.
The law provided funds for 100,000 new police officers at the municipal level, $9.7 billion in new funding for federal prisons, and $1.6 billion in new funds for fighting against violent acts committed against women.
The law was controversial because of the three strikes and TIS provisions. Both increased the federal prison population (and state prison populations, as the 1994 crime bill was adapted by states). The three strikes law led to lifetime imprisonment, even for small offenses. The TIS laws required inmates to serve at least 85% of their sentences.
“Alt-right” is a nebulous term used to describe a group of people with right-wing ideologies who have rejected conventional conservatism and liberalism and more often than not support the concept of white supremacy. The term is the shortened version of “alternative right,” which was coined in 2008 by Paul Gottfried to describe certain developments on the American right. The shortened term was taken up in 2010 by a white supremacist and attention whore by the name of Richard Spencer.
Those who are part of the alt-right have been likened to neo-Nazis and neo-fascists because of their beliefs and rhetoric. Many alt-righters espouse isolationism, racism, antifeminism, anti-Semitism, and the opposition to immigration, Islam, and multiculturalism.
The term first gained major attention in August 2016, when Hillary Clinton spoke about a contingent of Donald Trump’s supporters. She accused him of making the “movement mainstream.” Ironically, she raised public awareness of the alt-right.
For many, it is unclear if the alt-right is a movement or a serious one at that. Many people who are described as alt-right use memes to express their political views, if even ironically. If some people on the right are to be believed, some alt-righters espouse right-wing views only to provoke reactions from others. I personally doubt that since many people use “irony” and “humor” to poorly mask their true views.
The antifeminism is a sentiment that always existed as long as feminism has, but it has been more obvious during this millennium.
An anti-feminist may be part a another movement or group, like that of the men’s rights movement, a red-piller, and the Men Go Their Own Way (MGTOW) movement, or no movement at all, but the thing that binds people in these groups is the mistrust and outright abhorrence of feminism. In fact, they may spend more time talking about the real and perceived failings of the women’s rights movement than they do their own (stated) causes.
Many antifeminists state that feminism isn’t needed in this day in age, but they are often referring to the Western hemisphere. There are series human rights violations in many countries, especially against women, around the world. However, many antifeminists are unconcerned with this fact.
On that note, much of the backlash against feminism at least borders on misogyny. Some anti-feminists even take the extra step of saying a women’s rights movement was never needed. Others go even further by arguing that all forms of feminism are bad, full stop. And then there are those who argue in favor of a rollback of feminist accomplishments and for women to be controlled by men.
The term “Baby Boomer” refers to a person who was born in the United States between 1946 and 1963. That period encompasses the baby boom, which began shortly after end of World War II. The oldest Baby Boomers turned 70 in 2016.
The term “Bernie Bros” was created as a pejorative to describe ardent supporters of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’s 2016 presidential run. Generally, emphasis is being put on Sanders’s white male support in order to make blanket accusations of misogyny and racism. At the same, female and black supporters of Sanders are often ignored if not derided.
Black Lives Matter
The Black Lives Matter movement was started in 2013 by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi. The impetus for the movement came from Garza, who was personally affected by the outcome of the Trayvon Martin case. She soon gained support from the other two ladies and they began using the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter in order to spread awareness.
The main goal of the movement is to advocate for the dignity and validity of Black lives, which involves fighting against anti-black discrimination in all its forms and not just “extrajudicial killings of Black people by police and vigilantes.” As it stands, the women want to “(re)build the Black liberation movement” by serving as advocates for all Black lives, not just those of Black males, who are the most maligned demographic.
Today, Black Lives Matter is a chapter-based organization with no central leadership. This is both a blessing and a curse. While the lack of a central leader means there is no main target, the lack of a central leader makes it easier for individuals with evil intentions to start chapters and/or use the hashtag for evil purposes.
For more, please read: What I Think About the Black Lives Matter Movement.
A “blue state” is one conceivably dominated by Democratic Party politics. The term arose due to the use of colors for the Electoral map by television networks during presidential elections. In general, blue was used to signify that the Democratic presidential candidate had captured the popular vote there.
Often, states which went Democratic in presidential elections also had Democratic governors and Democratic majorities in legislatures. However, since the Democratic Party lost over 1,000 seats across the country from 2009-2017, that reasoning doesn’t always hold true.
See: Red State.
Capitalism is an economic system based on private entities owning the means of production. There are four factors to capitalism: entrepreneurship, capital goods, natural resources, and labor.
Someone who owns a business generally has ownership of the first three factors, except in the case of slavery. Free workers generally own their productivity, which is paid in wages, whereas in slavery, the workers wouldn’t own their productivity and thus receive (next to) nothing.
A capitalist has the incentive to make a profit and to maximize it. And capitalism needs a “free market” economy to work, meaning the prices or goods and services are set by various market forces, like supply and demand.
However, unchecked capitalism could lead to monopolies and oligopolies. Also, there are many people (like me) who argue that some things, like health care and social security, should not be part of a capitalistic system.
Campaign Finance Reform
Campaign finance reform is a battle cry for activists and other civic-minded individuals who would like to see money have less of an influence in local, statewide, and national politics. Basically, wherever there are large sums of money from lobbyists, wealthy and corporate donors, and special interests, there is most likely going to be corruption.
Studies have shown that most laws are passed according to who pays the most money to lawmakers, as opposed to being based on public opinion. In essence, this is legalized bribery. If there were tighter caps on fundraising, spending, and financial lobbying, the laws that are passed might be more representative of public needs and opinions.
Classical liberalism is an ideology predicated to promoting the individual. It supports freedom of religion, speech, and limited government.
“Clintonista” may be a positive or negative term, depending on how it is used. On one hand, this is a gentle term used for someone who respects Hillary Clinton and is one of her ardent supporters. On the other hand, this term is used to describe the more militant supporters of the former First Lady, senator, and Secretary of State.
A Clintonite is a loyalist toward the Clinton family. This group might include political allies (within the Democratic Party), friends, and fans of the Clintons. This is usually a gentle term to refer to someone who views the Bill Clinton administration with fondness and respects Bill, Hillary, and even Chelsea Clinton.
Communism is a philosophy and social system in which there is public ownership of the means of production and public control of essential services. It’s also a colloquial term for Marxism.
Marxism was adopted and altered by several regimes and political throughout history, including Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky, Mao, and Castro. However, the so-called “communist” regimes that have been reviled throughout history weren’t truly communist but authoritarian governments.
Conservatism is an adherence to a “right-leaning” ideology as defined on a political scale.
According to the The Political Compass, conservatism is often defined in an economic sense. This means economic conservatives often prefer lower taxes and more free trade.
Conservatism can also be defined on a social level. If someone is socially conservative, this person may be chase and value marriage more as important to building a family unit.
For more, read this post: What Does It Mean to Be Conservative?
A conservative (with a lower-case “c”) is a person who preserves tradition and social values. Conservatives are often defined as people who are adverse to change. This person often adheres to six points of conservatism as outlined by Russell Kirk and often leans toward economic conservatism.
In the United States, this person espouses lower taxes and smaller government. An American conservative is often a member of the Republican Party, although there may be independent conservatives and conservative members of other American political parties, including the Democratic Party.
A Conservative (with a capital “C”) is a member of a British political party or any other party so named in any other country.
Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck (or just Crosscheck for short) is a program developed by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach in the early part of the 2010’s. He introduced his program in 2013.
Crosscheck is used by participating states in an attempt to purge suspected double (triple and so on) voters from state voting rolls. According to the description of the program, possible voter fraud is to be snuffed out by matching the names (first, middle, and last), birthdates, and the last four digits of voters’ Social Security numbers. However, according to an analysis by investigative reporter Greg Palast, the system is incredibly flawed.
In many cases, there are false flags and people with the same first and last names but different middle names can be targeted. Overall, the system serves to depress the vote by going after Americans who reliably vote Democratic: African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Latinos, and the young.
As of 2016, Crosscheck was being used by 28 states. However, some states, like Oregon, have dropped out of the program due to its faulty methodology.
Cyber-bullying is sustained, online harassment. It occurs when one person is picked on and followed on one or to even more websites.
Usually, teenagers are cyber-bullied, as their classmates go online and leave hurtful messages on social media. The bullies might also call others to join in and pile on the one person who is being targeted.
Adults can be cyber-bullied, as well. Like teenagers, the cyber-bullying is often carried out on social media, as the persons targeted are stalked and bombarded with mean tweets, posts, and direct messages.
At best, the harassment could be minimized via privacy settings and website tools which allow certain users to be blocked. At worst, cyber-bullying can drive people to commit suicide.
The Democratic Party (U.S.) is the oldest existing political party in the world. It was founded on January 8, 1828 as a result of the split among factions of Democratic-Republicans loyal to Andrew Jackson and the 6th President of the United States, John Quincy Adams. Jackson’s faction was known as the Democrats (or the Jacksonian Democrats) until it was officially named the Democratic Party in 1844.
Throughout this party’s history, there have been a number of ideological shifts, most notably in the 1930’s, the 1960’s and 1970’s. The Democrats were pulled to the left with the election of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the applied pressure from the labor movement. The most consequential shift occurred in 1968, when a number of Democrats migrated to the Republican Party after the Voting Rights and Civil Rights Acts were passed. From the 1970’s onward, many in the upper echelons of the party have called for it to move to the center, although most will still call themselves liberals or progressives.
Today, the Democratic Party is one of two major parties in the United States. Members of this party still call themselves Democrats. When I refer to Democrats in my posts, I am usually talking about Democratic leaders and politicians.
Blue-Dog Democrats are conservative Democrats who usually reside in Southern and other red states. Because these Democrats come from red states, it is widely believed that they must hold specific positions (like anti-abortion and pro-gun) in order to get elected and keep their seats.
A DINO is a Democrat in Name Only. DINO’s are essentially traitors to the cause because they act like Republicans.
A democratic socialist is a person who favors a socialist system for their government but puts emphasis on giving the people an equal say in how their country is run. Under a democratic socialist system, the government would control of pay for essential public services, like health care and social security, but an equally important part of the system is the emphasis on democracy.
- Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has described himself as a democratic socialist.
- Parts of Scandinavia are run on such a system.
- The late Martin Luther King Jr., the most honor civil rights leader in the United States, was described as a democratic socialist.
Defense of Marriage Act
The Defense of Marriage Act (Public Law No: 104-199), is a federal law which was signed by President Bill Clinton and enacted into law on September 21, 1996. The law specifically defined marriage as being a union between a man and a woman.
The key part of the law was Section 7:
Sec. 7. Definition of ‘marriage’ and ‘spouse’
“In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.”
The law was eventually ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court on June 26, 2013.
Discrimination occurs when someone acts on their prejudices to deny or otherwise violate the rights of others. For example, if a person was fired solely due to their ethnicity, that would be discrimination.
Now, discrimination often involves someone abusing their power. Per that example I provided, the person doing the hiring, likely a manager in human resources, has a measure of power.
Doxxing occurs when one person or a group of people releases another person’s personally identifiable information, like a name (if the targeted person was anonymous), and other information that wasn’t freely given, like phone numbers, an address, and a Social Security number. It often has a sinister purpose.
On one hand, doxxing has been used by users on 4Chan to identify people who have committed crimes, like child molestation. When criminals have been positively identified, their information can then be turned over to the police.
On the other hand, innocent people have been hurt. Sometimes, the wrong people have been identified. That was the case during the search for the Boston bombers and it happened again in August 2017 when a Twitter user @yesyouarearacist identified the wrong people who attended a white supremacist rally in Virginia.
Doxxing is also a method used by some cyber-bullies, social justice warriors, and other parties in order to silence, harass, or threaten someone or to destroy that person’s livelihood. Often, the targeted individual suffers a breach of information while others are pushed to call up that person’s place of employment to get that person fired. The people doing the doxxing are punishing others for trolling or just for having a dissenting opinion.
Election fraud occurs as people in power do whatever they can to artificially suppress the vote and influence election results, even by illegal and unconstitutional means. There are at least 9 methods used by election officials to steal votes, including direct methods like tampering voting machines and indirect methods like voter ID laws.
The Electoral College is a collection of people who cast ballots in order to choose the president and vice president. This was an extra layer added to American presidential elections by the Founding Fathers because of their mistrust of direct democracy. James Madison feared the “tyranny of the majority,” in which factions would vote for laws that hurt other groups. Alexander Hamilton feared that the people would one day elect someone who was unfit for the presidency (which is ironic).
At its inception, the EC was not the only limitation on direct democracy. For example, the Constitution originally mandated that U.S. Senators be selected via state legislatures. This was changed by the 17th amendment.
How the Electoral College Works
In order to win election, a presidential candidate has to win a majority of electors (at least 270). There are currently 538 total electors based on the total number of U.S. senators (100), the total number of U.S. representatives (435), the two Washington, D.C. delegates, and the President of the Senate (the Vice President of the United States). The number of electors apportioned to the states is based on the number of senators and representatives they have.
The states can apportion their electors in any way they wish, but in general, the popular vote in states determines which presidential candidate receives that state’s electors. Most states have a winner-take-all (first past the poll) system; that means the person who garners the most votes will take all the electors, even if they only win a plurality of votes. (In Maine and Nebraska, electors are divided according to the share of the vote each candidate receives.)
Depending on the states won and the number of states won, a presidential candidate could win election despite losing the popular vote. As of 2016, this has occurred 3 times (if you count the 2000 election, which was really decided by the Supreme Court).
The electors meet in their respective states 41 days after the presidential election. They are tasked with casting one ballot for president and another ballot for vice president.
Electors could theoretically vote however they wish in 23 states, but those who cast a ballot for a candidate without respecting the popular vote are known as faithless electors. Today, the electors have to vote based on the popular vote in 27 states and in the District of Columbia. Most electors are loyal members of one of the two major parties and they have to sign pledges.
The term “Evangelical” is short for Evangelical Christian.
In the truest sense of the term, an Evangelical Christian is a follower of Jesus Christ who is compelled to share the Gospel, or tell the good news of their Lord and Savior. An Evangelical Christian may have a political view, but they are not required to have a certain political view.
However, most Americans associate Evangelicals with conservatives and the Republican Party. That could be a good or bad thing, depending on where one stands. Nevertheless, the term “Evangelicals” has become a politically charged term because Evangelicals have emerged as a powerful voting bloc, especially on the right. As a result, many liberals and progressives view Evangelicals with contempt and vice versa.
Feminism is a type of movement based on achieving social, political, and economic equality between men and women.
In the West, there were generally 3 waves of feminism recognized.
In the United States, it is believed that the first wave of feminism began in the 19th century, as women and their allies fought to give women the right to vote. There was a similar struggle in Great Britain around the same time. There were other types of feminism even before American feminism, but the types of activism in countries like France differed greatly.
The second wave of feminism began around the 1960’s, as women fought for equal wages. By the 1970’s, women were part of a sexual revolution which not only dealt with sexual freedom, but included women who wanted to redefine traditional gender roles.
The third wave of feminism began around the 1990’s, but it was general described as a backlash against the second wave.
Since the first wave, there have been many types of feminism intersectionality
Today, fewer women in the West identify as feminists, although they may agree with most tenets of feminism. For them, the word carries a stigma. Yet for some women, feminism takes on a greater meaning. In various countries, there are self-proclaimed feminists who are fighting against serious human rights violations.
The term “McFeminism” has been floated around the Internet in response to people who claim to be feminists yet support people or policies that violate women’s rights and dignity. The people who do this claim to be feminists in order to signal virtue; they want to look good in the eyes of their peers. Ergo, a “McFeminist” is a fake feminist.
At its best, feminism is a form of egalitarianism, but with a specific focus on women’s issues. At its worst, the movement only focuses on light, surface issues and is only used to signal virtue, shut down dissent, and pigeonhole those who do not identify as feminists. McFeminists do this and they tend to harass others (to the point of doxxing and attacking others’ livelihood).
Fight for 15
The Fight for $15 is a labor movement which began in 2012, as 200 hundred fast-food workers conducted a strike. Among their demands were a $15/hour wage and union rights.
The word “fracking” is short for “hydrolic fracturing,” the process by which the ground or even rock is drilled to obtain oil. Liquids are used to loosen shale oil so it could more easily be captured. This process is controversial because studies have shown that fracking threatens local water supplies.
Oh boy, let me make this brief:
GamerGate is an online backlash that erupted over concerns over integrity in gaming journalism. The moment was sparked by a series of posts from a jilted lover of a video game maker who accused her of sleeping with numerous gaming journalists. The movement was driven in large part by 4chan and Twitter users.
As a response, GamerGaters were accused of being misogynists who wanted to drive out women from gaming spaces and the video game industry in total. Those leading the anti-GamerGate charge included journalists and social justice warriors.
There were people on both sides of this issue who wanted to use it for personal gain. There were more anti-GG people who did so, and more of them are still active about the issue. But for the most part, the moment has passed.
See: Social Justice Warrior.
Gerrymandering is the process by which lawmakers redraw districts within their states along partisan lines. The process was born in Massachusetts in 1812, when a ton of districts were stacked in order to favor certain politicians.
Every ten years (following the census), states have to readjust district lines based on population changes. In most states, the redistricting process is carried out by state legislatures and governors have a say in approving the maps.
Partisan lawmakers have the opportunity to redraw lines to help their incumbents and to limit the opportunities for other parties to make gains or keep their majorities. The lawmakers may also want to limit the voices of demographics that are opposed to them. In the respect, there have been noted instances of new districts formed that made no logical sense.
Today, gerrymandering has aided both of the major U.S. parties, by mostly the Republicans. After the 2008 elections, the Republicans employed a plan pushed by former George W. Bush strategist Karl Rove. Using REDMAP, a software program, the GOP was able to net a 33-seat majority in the House of Representatives during the 2010 mid-term elections.
The year 2020 is key. That year, another census will be conducted and afterward, the congressional districts will be reformatted. However, the process could be undermined if certain groups are undercounted, thus limiting their voices ever further.
The Green Party is a political party with international chapters. The Green Party of the United States was founded in May 1984 in St. Paul, Minnesota.
The U.S. Green Movement was tied to the West German Green Movement, which extolled the Four Pillars:
- Ecological politics
- Social Justice
- Peace and Nonviolence
- Grassroots Democracy
The U.S. party added Local and Regional Self-Management.
The party also has Ten Key Values, which were revised in 2000:
- Grassroots Democracy
- Social Justice and Equal Opportunity
- Ecological Wisdom
- Community-Based Economics and Economic Justice
- Feminism and Gender Equity
- Respect for Diversity
- Personal and Global Responsibility
- Future Focus and Sustainability
These ten key values became part of the Global Greens Charter in 2001.
In 1991, the party adopted the name The Greens/Green Party USA (G/GPUSA). The ASGP voted to change its name to the Green Party of the United States in July 2001. The vote also included the motion to apply with the Federal Election Commission in order to be recognized as a national committee.
The Green Party in the U.S. has hundreds of members who hold office, including legislators, mayors, and zoning board members. The party has also run a presidential candidate on the national ticket every four years since 1996 (though not without controversy). The most controversial presidential candidates for the party were Ralph Nader in 2000 and Jill Stein in 2016; both were blamed for “taking votes away from” Democratic candidates who lost their elections despite winning the popular vote.
On the political spectrum, the Greens are generally left-wing. In the U.S., the Green Party is definitely to the left of the Democratic Party.
The horseshoe theory is the belief that the far-left and far-right are closer to each other than they are to the political center. Basically, the two extremes resemble each other so much that they cause the political spectrum to really work like that of a horseshoe.
The earliest instance of the term was found in Le Siècle des ideologies, a 2002 book written by Jean-Pierre Faye. However, the theory itself has been attributed to Seymour Martin Lipset, Daniel Bell, and the “pluralist school.”
Of course, the horseshoe theory has its critics and its flaws. For example, Simon Choat, a senior lecturer in political theory at Kingston University, pointed out that while far-left and far-right might oppose some of the same things their opposition to those things has come about for different reasons. In short, the horseshoe theory is a gross oversimplification.
The Hyde Amendment is a law that was passed in 1976 to restrict the use of federal funds for abortion. The law was named after the late Henry Hyde, a Republican congressman from Illinois, and it leaves it up to the states to decide whether to fund abortions through Medicaid. Under this law, public funds may be withheld for abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or the life of the mother is threatened. However, only 15 states (11 of which are compelled to participate through court order) fund any type of abortion through Medicaid.
The Hyde Amendment is hated by pro-choice activists for a few reasons, but especially because it heavily affects poor women. In particular, poor women are more likely to become pregnant and have unwanted pregnancies because they have less access to contraceptives.
The Hyde Amendment was an issue during the 2016 election, but not a big one. Although the Democrats included a pledge to get rid of the law in their party’s platform, the issue was not brought up during the main presidential debates.
Identity politics is a phrase that is often bemoaned by conservatives and liberals alike, because most do not know of the history of the term. What we generally think of as “identity politics” does involve identity, but the use of it as a weapon.
In truth, the phrase “identity politics” came from “A Black Feminist Statement,” a 1977 manifesto issued by the Combahee River Collective, a group of black feminist scholars and activists who first gathered together in Boston to address the struggle of the black woman.
From the Statement
Above all else, Our politics initially sprang from the shared belief that Black women are inherently valuable, that our liberation is a necessity not as an adjunct to somebody else’s may because of our need as human persons for autonomy. This may seem so obvious to sound simplistic, but it is apparent that no other ostensibly progressive movement has ever considered our specific oppression as a priority or worked seriously for the ending of that oppression …
This focusing upon our own oppression is embodied in the concept of identity politics. We believe that the most profound and potentially most radical politics come directly out of our own identity, as opposed to working to end somebody else’s oppression. In the case of Black women this is a particularly repugnant, dangerous, threatening, and therefore revolutionary concept because it is obvious from looking at all the political movements that have preceded us that anyone is more worthy of liberation than ourselves. We reject pedestals, queenhood, and walking ten paces behind. To be recognized as human, levelly human, is enough.
As Mychal Denzel Smith points out, these women believed that by working on black women’s issues, which stood at the nexus of race, sex, and class, they would be able to focus on those three areas and find ways to get rid of those types of oppression and thus lift everyone up.
In general terms an Independent is a type of voting-age American, registered voter, or politician who doesn’t belong to a political party. This person may lean conservative, liberal, or be a moderate. Regardless, this person does not want to register with any party, at least at the moment.
Liberalism is the adherence to “left-wing” politics on the political scale. In general, liberals believe in the goodness of the individual but also believe in collectivism in order to protect social and civil liberties.
According to the The Political Compass, liberalism is also defined in the economic sense. While classical liberalism was built on free markets, modern-day liberalism focuses more on regulations in order to help consumers. Liberals also believe that government can help in certain situations in order to affect change.
Liberalism is also defined on a social level. Many liberals support things like gay marriage, the decriminalization of drugs, and multiculturalism.
For more, read this post: What Does It Mean to Be Liberal?
A liberal (with a lower-case “l”) is a person who may not be beholden to traditions or social norms. This person more often than not may push for social and economic norms but support reforms based on the current state and needs of society. Although there are no six points outlined for liberals, they generally adhere to the ideas outlined in the 10 proposals by Geoffrey R. Stone in 2013.
In the United States, liberals generally call for higher taxes (based on income), more regulations, and consumer protections. A liberal most likely belongs to the Democratic Party, although there are many liberals as independents and members of other parties in the country.
Liberal is also an umbrella term which includes self-proclaimed liberals and American progressives.
A Liberal (with an capital “L”) is a member of a Liberal Party, like that in Canada.
The Libertarian Party is a political party which was founded in the United States on December 11, 1971 by 8 activists in the Colorado, Springs, CO home of David Nolan. Its first party convention was held in Denver, CO in 1972. By the 1990’s the Libertarian Party became the third largest political party in the United States. Today, the Libertarians hold over 100 seats across the U.S. and there are chapters in over 16 countries.
The libertarian party is dedicated to these three principles:
- A free-market economy
- Civil liberties and personal freedom
- Non-intervention, peace, and free trade
This is a socially liberal and fiscally conservative platform.
A Libertarian (with a capital L) is a member of the Libertarian Party in the United States or other affiliated countries. In the United States, Libertarian-minded politicians are generally aligned with Republicans.
A libertarian (with a lower-case l) is a person on the counterpart of an authoritarian. In general, those with libertarian sensibilities promote personal freedoms. In a sense they may be a classical liberal.
See: Classical Liberal.
The mainstream media consists of traditional print outlets, like The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, as well as established television and radio networks like National Public Radio, CNN, MSBNC, and Fox News. Newer forms of media, like websites, and YouTube videos, are adapted by these outlets, but most are outlets with assumed credibility.
Marxism is a complex set of doctrines developed by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engles (to a less extent) during the mid-19th century. Marxism originally consisted of three ideas: a deep analysis of philosophies, a theory of history, and an economic and political program.
Throughout Marx’s writings, he critiqued several philosophies and society and he argued that humans should make philosophies into reality. His most cited work is Communist Manifesto. At the heart of argument he made in that work was the discussion of class struggle.
In Communist Manifesto, Marx criticized capitalism. He argued that there were two basic classes in a capitalist system: the bourgeoisie (those who own the means of production) and the proletariat (the workers). He believed that once people are aware of how unfair their situation was, it would lead to a revolution and the fall of the bourgeoisie.
Marx called for a communist system. While he was in part inspired by utopian socialism, the style of government he called for was pretty extreme. While there would be a communal ownership of the means of production, those things would be taken by force. In this way the proletariat would get rid of the upper class (bourgeoisie) and there would essentially be no state.
Today, when someone refers to Marxism, they are often talking about the historical figures and oppressive regimes (like the U.S.S.R.) that took Marxist ideas to set up their states.
A Marxist is a person who follows the writings and philosophies of Karl Marx. In the United States, this is usually an epithet aimed at Democrats, leftists, and anyone with socialistic leanings.
Men’s Rights Activist
A men’s rights activist (or MRA) is a kind of a counterpart to a feminist, but someone with a primary focus on men’s (modern-day) issues. These issues include things like child support, parental fraud, uneven sentencing, and a general disregard for men’s mental health and physical well-being.
MRA’s are often derided and their concerns are often hand-waved. However, on one level there is some natural pushback when some MRA’s are also avowed antifeminists. Unfortunately, the more reasonable MRA’s get lumped in with the worst actors.
For a deep look at MRA’s, I recommend watching “The Red Pill” by Cassie Jaye. When she started the documentary, she went in as a self-described feminist who had a preconceived view of MRA’s. The film is controversial yet informative.
The definition of a millennial differs a little bit based on the source, but for my purposes, I categorize millennials as Americans born in the period beginning in 1981 and ending in 1994. The oldest of this group may have been just old enough to run for president in 2016 while the youngest were graduating college, in general.
Of the “loosely” defined generations, the millennial is currently lowest on the totem pole. Millennials are blamed for much of the world’s problems and categorized as “lazy, entitled, and narcissistic.”
Misandry is the abject hatred of men just because they’re male. In some extreme cases, those who hate men actively condone violence against them and wish not to associate with men at all.
This is a widely mocked term because men for the most part consistently hold positions of power around the world and collectively control the vast majority of the world’s wealth. Are men hated because they’re male? Certainly, that is the case for some women but the type of real oppression faced by men isn’t exclusively gender-based.
Misogyny is the deep mistrust and abject hatred of women. It goes beyond normal sexism and seeks to denigrate and reject almost all that is considered female.
Misogynists generally view women as no more than sex objects and people who were put on this Earth to serve men. Any woman who “steps out of line” is viewed unfavorably, denigrated, and called every name in the book.
Misogyny often goes hand and hand with homophobia. There is a specific focus on gay men most of the time, since gay men are often categorized as effeminate. Gay women may be mistrusted and despised by misogynists because they don’t want the D.
A moderate is a person whose views land them at the center of a political scale. A “true” moderate (which is pretty much a fairytale) is neither a liberal nor a conservative. In reality, moderates may lean right or left but they’re willing to work with people who are right-of-center or left-of center at certain junctures.
A person can have moderate views on specific topics, like health care and free trade. In those cases, that person might want to seek solutions which help as many people as possible.
Neo-conservatism is an American ideology which was developed in the 1960’s. As it began to surface, neoconservatives initially believed that unchecked capitalism was a destructive force.
Today, neo-conservatism is an aggressive ideology which is predicated toward the use of military might. While Neo-conservatives might adhere to religion, they also believe in American exceptionalism. As such they are willing to fight wars in order to keep America’s position as the world’s “Top Cop.”
Neoliberalism is a “secret ideology” which was developed in the 1930’s by Austrian scholars and brought to the United States by men like Milton Friedman.
Neoliberalism is predicated toward free markets. As such, neoliberals seek to lower taxes for the wealthy and corporations, deregulate markets, and crush unions.
Neoliberalism is the default economic and foreign policy for much of the world. The International Monetary fund is one tool to keep this ideology in place and to control poorer nations. In order for some nations to receive funds from the IMF, they have to allow for free markets and adhere to other rules set forth from the IMF lest those countries be cut off and diplomatically isolated.
Two historic examples of neoliberals were Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.
North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
The North American Free Trade Agreement was a trilateral trade agreement signed by The United States, Mexico, and Canada. The agreement was finalized during George H.W. Bush’s presidency, but it wasn’t approved by the Democratically-controlled Congress until after Bill Clinton assumed the presidency and pushed it through. The agreement thus went into effect on January 1, 1994.
According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative, NAFTA had the following aspects:
Tariffs were eliminated progressively and all duties and quantitative restrictions, with the exception of those on a limited number of agricultural products traded with Canada, were eliminated by 2008.
NAFTA also includes chapters covering rules of origin, customs procedures, agriculture and sanitary and phytosanitary measures, government procurement, investment, trade in services, protection of intellectual property rights, and dispute settlement procedures.
NAFTA is a controversial agreement. While it is beloved by those who think free trade agreements are good, it has a bad reputation and decidedly so. According to Jeff Faux, NAFTA negatively impacted workers in four ways:
- NAFTA caused the loss of 700,000 jobs in the United States as production was moved to Mexico.
- It undercut worker’s bargaining power, thus leading to lower wages and decreased benefits.
- It displaced Mexican workers after devastating their country’s agriculture and small businesses.
- NAFTA served as “the template for rules of the emerging global economy, in which the benefits would flow to capital and the costs to labor.”
In 2017, officials in the Trump operation quietly announced they were renegotiating NAFTA, but there are reports that some aspects of the TPP (as it was when the United States was a part of the negotiations) are being put into it.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is a military alliance involving countries from North America and parts of Europe. The general political alliance was created in 1949 by 11 charter members, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and France. NATO now consists of 29 nations, including Germany and Montenegro (added in 2017).
Here’s a list of all the member nations (and the years they joined NATO) as of 2017:
- Albania (2009)
- Belgium (1949)
- Bulgaria (2004)
- Canada (1949)
- Croatia (2009)
- Czech Republic (1999)
- Denmark (1949)
- Estonia (2004)
- France (1949)
- Germany (1955)
- Greece (1952)
- Hungary (1999)
- Iceland (1949)
- Italy (1949)
- Latvia (2004)
- Lithuania (2004)
- Luxembourg (1949)
- Montenegro (2017)
- Netherlands (1949)
- Norway (1949)
- Poland (1999)
- Portugal (1949)
- Romania (2004)
- Slovakia (2004)
- Slovenia (2004)
- Spain (1982)
- Turkey (1952)
- The United Kingdom (1949)
- The United States (1949)
The member nations have a mutual military agreement by which each nation treats an attack on one as an attack on all, according Article 5 of the Washington Treaty. According to NATO’s website, that article was only used once, after the September 11, 2001terrorist attacks on the United States.
NATO’s headquarters is located in Brussels, Belgium. Initially, the HQ was located in London. It was moved to Paris in 1952 then Brussels in 1967.
A phishing scam is a method of illegally and fraudulently acquiring personal information from a person via the Internet. When someone is targeted in this manner, they are fooled into giving up their personal information, like credit card numbers and passwords. The person(s) who were doing the phishing can then take the mark’s information and steal that person’s money or take over their online accounts.
For example, John Podesta’s emails were stolen via a phishing scam. He was likely tricked into clicking on a link in an email and led to a website where he was asked to give up his information.
Prejudice is a type of bias all humans have. It could be relatively harmless in that it determines the type of programs we like to watch and the type of friends of have. Or it can be damaging because it involves “pre-judging” of people that comes from past experiences and ignorance.
Prejudice by itself isn’t that harmful. It’s only harmful when we act on it and indoctrinate others.
Progressivism is a pragmatic and value-driven view of the world. It’s not necessarily tied to one ideology, but progressives seek changes based on the changing circumstances in the environment and in society.
This term evolved from the early iteration of the Progressive Movement in the United States around the time of Teddy Roosevelt. Early progressives advocated for things like fair wages and against child labor.
Progressives in the United States tend to be left-wing. They are essentially liberals because they still advocate for things like fair wages, although they tend to be farther left than other liberals. But around the world, these progressives might ever be viewed as moderates.
Now, some progressives may even hold conservative values but they may be in agreement with their liberal counterparts on key issues. In the end, much of their views may be based on pragmatism and observation.
This term might be a shorted form of the term “social progressive,” but it is often used as a pejorative. These type of progressives may espouse equality and social justice, but they tend to be aimless radicals who are willing to bully others in order to meet certain ends. (This is why I resisted calling myself a progressive for the longest time.)
The term progressive might also be used by politicians in order to appeal to this group and/or to make their candidacies look more attractive.
See: Social Justice Warrior.
Don’t let anyone tell you different, but racism is the distrust and hatred of people based on their skin color or ethnicity. It doesn’t matter whether or not the person who is hateful to another has power or not.
Some people define racists as people with power who hate others based on race. That definition is wrong. Racism can be experienced by anyone and anyone, regardless of their station in life, can be racist.
A radical is someone on the far left of the political spectrum.
At best, radicals lead populist movements and push those left of center to advocate for important changes. For example: Although communism is frowned upon in the United States, the Communist Party in the U.S. led the movement to unionize workers.
At worst, radicals call for violent revolutions or use methods which end up hurting their stated causes. When I think of this kind of radical, eco-terrorists come to mind as an easy example.
Ranked-choice voting is a system that allows voters to more freely vote for their preferred candidates. Under a ranked-choice voting system, voters can rank candidates for seats according to who they prefer most, second-most, third-most, and so on.
After votes are cast, the lowest-performing candidates are eliminated in the count until a winner can be determined between the top two candidates. If someone’s most preferred candidate is eliminated, that person’s vote is then transferred to one of the remaining candidates, based on how the voter ranked them.
This type of voting creates an “instant runoff” because the winner must be decided with a majority vote, based on rankings. Thus, it eliminates the need for two-pronged elections to determine a winner.
A reactionary is someone who is to the far right of the political spectrum. This type of person is an authoritarian who would like to return society to an earlier state.
At first glance, a reactionary is the counterpart to a radical. However, the reactionary might even use radical methods to suit their purposes.
A “red state” is one conceivably dominated by Republican Party politics. The term arose due to the use of colors during Election Day broadcasts to signify which states candidates of the two major parties (Democrat and Republican) had won. In general, the states the Democrat had won were turned blue on network maps and the states the Republican won were turned red on those maps.
Today, a state is referred to as a red state because states won by Republican presidential candidates more often than not have Republican governors and majority-Republican legislatures. This often affects the way Democrats campaign in those states because the conventional belief is to run to the right of the Democratic base in order to appeal to conservatives. It’s a failing strategy.
See: Blue State.
The Republican Party (U.S.) was formed in 1848 as part of a coalition of abolitionists and people who fragmented from the Whig Party. The Republicans swept into power with the election of Abraham Lincoln as president and eventually replaced the Whig Party in national politics.
Today, the Republican Party exists as one of the two major parties in the United States.
Reverse discrimination occurs when someone from a (previously) marginalized group participates in systemic disenfranchisement of someone from a more privileged group. For example, say a black person who was denied a job on the basis of race builds their own company. If that same person discriminates against a qualified white person who seeks a job in that company, that is a case of reverse discrimination.
Unlike reverse racism, reverse discrimination is a valid term.
“Reverse racism” is a ridiculous term used to describe racism experienced by white people. It’s inherently racist because some people feel the need to set aside the racism and discrimination white folks get from others as special. Racism is racism. Period.
Now, if one wants to address something like anti-white racism, that’s a better term to use. It’s specific, it’s to the point, and it’s accurate.
Anti-white racism exists, as does anti-black racism and many other forms of bigotry. I will not defend any flavor.
Social Justice Warrior
“Social justice warrior” (abbreviated: SJW) is a controversial and pejorative term used to describe a professed liberal or progressive who does much of their activism online. This person may also identify as a feminist and profess support for the LGBT community.
Overall, SJW’s act based on momentary consensus based on feelings and their perceptions of past oppression. As such, they may “elevate” certain groups, like blacks, women, gays, and transgendered individuals. At the same time, SJW’s project scorn on white men, a group they perceive as being the most privileged class (throughout history).
SJW’s are authoritarians who do not value disagreement. They may use terms like “Check you privilege” and “trigger warnings” to censor others, shut down dissenting thought, and to prime people against opponents. Often, conservatives and others with dissenting opinions are shouted down or prevented from speaking at public events.
Social justice warriors are really dangerous in groups. A social justice warrior may use mob mentality in order to reinforce their opinions and shut out dissent. As such, groups of SJW’s may bully others online, dox them, or threaten a dissenter’s livelihood (most likely by flooding this person’s place of employment with calls and emails). Additionally, SJW’s may threaten violence or use it to reinforce their views.
SJW’s are often aided by various institutions and the press. Some far-left thought has been codified and coddled by universities. For example, look at what has gone at Berkeley University in 2017. This is hardly covered by the mainstream press, which serves as the de facto propaganda arm of SJW’s.
All things considered, SJW’s also exist on the right. They can be detected by their aversion to dissenting opinion and poor behavior on social media. (As of January 20, 2017, there was one in the White House.)
Socialism is a system under which certain sectors of the economy and services are run by the public. Under a socialism system, services like trains, buses, and health care will be taken out of the market and profit-driven system if they are rendered important for the public good.
In the United States, socialism is often conflated with communism and thus denigrated and frowned upon.
Sexism is a type of prejudice based around gender. It’s not sexist to put out general biological differences between men and women, but it is sexist to rely on stereotypes that have no real basis. For example, some guys assume men are generally stronger mentally, when mental fortitude differs from person to person.
In the United States, the Silent Generation is one between the “Greatest” Generation and the Baby Boomers.
A single payer system is a national health insurance system. Under single payer, also called “Medicare for all,” the federal government would be billed while doctors remain in private practice. This type of insurance arrangement is gaining favor among Americans, including a plurality of Republicans.
A single payer system, if done right, could save the government, employers, and patients money in the long run. The government would need to negotiate and set caps on prices, but there would be immediate savings on overhead. In s system like Medicare, administration costs are around 3% while the current private insurance system has administrative costs that hover around 15-20%.
A smear campaign is a coordinated effort to tarnish a person’s reputation, ruing their public standing, or to negatively sway public opinion towards that person, the person’s agenda, a company, a jurisdiction, or a policy issue. Smear campaigns are normally aided by the press and backed with big money. The progenitors of these campaigns rely on half-truths, falsehoods, and repetition to get the job done.
More often than not, smears are used against politicians, because politics is generally dirty. But anyone can be smeared, as long as that person expresses unpopular opinions or the people doing the smearing have certain agendas.
A superdelegate is a Democratic Party construct created to help the party to avert a disaster like the one which occurred when George McGovern was nominated to represent the Democrats on the presidential ticket in 1972. He went on to be soundly defeated by Richard Nixon in the general election.
There are over 300 super delegates for the Democratic Party. These delegates consist of party operatives who may hold public office and they can vote for whichever Democratic presidential candidate they like, regardless of what happens in their state. During the Democratic National Convention held during presidential election years, a superdelegate’s vote holds 3 times the value of a vote from a regular delegate.
In the United States, third parties are political parties other than the two main ones. As it stands now, the Libertarian and Green Parties, e.g., hold that distinction. The U.S. (unfortunately) has a two-party system, meaning that the Democrats and Republicans hold much of the power across the country.
See: Two-Party System.
Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a trade agreement which initially involved the United States and 11 other Pacific-Rim countries like Japan and Canada. China was specifically absent from this agreement.
The TPP consists of 2,000 pages, shared with the public via various PDF’s and broken down into chapters and appendixes. Within the content are rules regulating environmental policy, energy policy, food and labeling guidelines, copyright guidelines, and arbitration guidelines.
According to various environmental and consumer groups, the TPP is a disaster. If ratified, it would not only hurt the environment, but expose consumers to unsafe food, hurt free speech by the loose application of copyright law, and undermine the sovereignty of countries.
The agreement has not been ratified as of the time of this posting and after his inauguration Donald Trump took the United State out of the agreement.
A two-party system is an electoral system in which there is only room for two parties at a time to make major headway in the country’s politics. In the United States, the Democratic Party and Republican Party benefit from this system.
The two-party system is held up by the first-past-the-poll system, in which the person with the most votes in a given election wins (although some states have run-offs for certain seats). In most major elections, like the presidential election, the winner can prevail with only a plurality of votes. But in order to prevent this, most voters gravitate towards the two major parties.
That means if another candidate outside the top two tries to compete, they are in essence a “third wheel” who might be blamed if someone wins with only a plurality of votes. However, if so many people chose the third option, and there was a high turnout, it goes to show that many people are clamoring for more than two choices.
Voter fraud is an act in which a person votes more than once during an election or otherwise votes when or where they are ineligible to do so. This includes a non-citizen voting or a citizen attempting to vote when and where they are not registered to do so.
Voter fraud has been detected in numerous elections and should be curtailed. However, the threat has often been overblown by Republicans to justify voter suppression methods and to facilitate and obscure the threat of election fraud.
Voter ID Laws
Voter ID laws are those which require voters to produce one or more forms of identification in order to prove eligibility.
On the surface, it should seem reasonable enough for people to procure and produce identification, but it’s not that simple. In some cases, it can be nearly impossible for people to obtain ID’s because DMV’s are far and few between, those offices are closed most of the time, and some people just cannot afford to purchase an identification card. In other cases, an ID and birth certificate aren’t enough to save people from losing their right to vote.
In all honesty, legislation like this only has a sinister purpose. These laws are passed in Republican-controlled states and they normally affect people of color. States like Texas and North Carolina have even lost Supreme Court cases for having racist voter ID laws on their books.
Voter suppression occurs when election officials and other politicians use whatever methods they can in order to block certain people from voting. These methods include voter ID laws and voter purges.
Often, election officials and other politicians approve methods to suppress the vote under the guise of fighting against voter fraud. However, they end up keeping a greater number of people from the polls than they could prove actually committed voter fraud.
Voter suppression methods are used to target specific demographics. Minorities are hurt by these methods, as are younger voters and those likely to vote for a specific political party.