Fellow bloggers at The Herald-Whig have trotted out some top 10 lists recently, so here’s my list of 10 politics-speak cliches that this nation would be better off without.
1. "They’re taking that out of context."
When a politician says a vote, a comment, political position is being taken out of context, what they really want is a do-over. Yes, it’s possible to haul out a partial quote that misrepresents a politician’s true intent, but you can tell when someone starts with the "out of context" comment that a long, convoluted story is coming. Real people say "that’s not true" and have quick, understandable explanations.
2. "My opponent says …"
Politicians have been counseled by consultants never to give the opposition any publicity. This includes a decision to never mention the opponent’s name. Get over it. Voters know the name. You know the opponent’s name. Use it.
3. "That was a slap in the face to …"
When politicians or action groups use this phrase, they’re trying to create a public stir, usually where none exists. If the average voter thought something was all that bad, there would be no reason for the spin doctors to get involved or hyperventilate about something being a slap in the face.
4. "All conservatives are …"
Generalizations like this are dumb. Not all conservatives believe the same things. There may be a general core of beliefs, but foggy terms like this are meant to mask true political discourse, not show it in sharp focus.
5. "All liberals are …"
Same as above. The label doesn’t explain what the speaker is talking about. If someone is a liberal when it comes to gun control or abortion, please mention those things. Sweeping statements don’t help the argument.
6. "The media …"
Just as the political labels above are imprecise, so are comments about the media. There is no single voice for the media. Newspapers, television and radio are very different mediums. Thousands of different reporters, editors, producers, commentators have different views on life and politics. But lots of politicians follow the simple rule of thumb: "When in doubt, blame the media. Just say they’re biased for the other side."
7. "This campaign is about the people …"
Or at least the people I hope will vote for me.
8. "I will not side with the special interests …"
What? Farmers are a special interest. So are school children. So are senior citizens. Are you saying you’ll never support anything that does not affect everyone?
9. "I don’t care what the polls say."
This is akin to a politician saying he likes getting voted out of office. There are going to be points of ideology that will not be compromised. That’s good. But politicians shouldn’t start off with a lie, saying they don’t care about polls. It would be better to say, "I won’t be a slave to the polls."
10. "I love this country."
So do we all. Politicians should not seek extra credit for love of country. The best of them will show this in ways that speak louder than words.