So you want to learn how to speak “Politician.” Terrific!
First, you’ll have to unlearn traditional English, with its emphasis on making rational thoughts clear through words.
Instead, obfuscate with half-truths — or better yet, quarter- and eighth-truths.
Express righteous indignation over minor matters. Practice your hyperbole.
Disingenuously criticize things you were guilty of a few news cycles ago. Hypocrisy is a feature, not a bug.
And always read from the talking points produced by your party elders and ideological betters.
Remember, politics is a team sport. You’re either Red or Blue. Purple is for plums and Prince.
Let’s get started!
DEMOCRAT: “Promote the general welfare.”
REPUBLICAN: “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
“People begin to see what happens when an entire political party that’s drifted into socialism and doesn’t hide it anymore, what happens to the country when they get power.” — Rush Limbaugh, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 6-7-12
“American Right-Wingers Are No Longer Conservative, They’re Extremists.” — headline, alternet.org, 4-17-13
REPUBLICAN: Holding people accountable.
“It shouldn’t be about having heads roll or firing people, Piers…. That’s what his focus is on right now, not on pointing fingers of blame, but making sure that [the website] works.” — Jay Carney, Piers Morgan Live, CNN, 10-21-13
DEMOCRAT: End-of-life advisory board.
REPUBLICAN: Death panel.
“The death panel myth grabbed hold even though the vast majority of Americans are in favor of payment for end-of-life counseling.” — Peter Ubel, Forbes, 1-9-13
DEMOCRAT: Income inequality.
REPUBLICAN: Growth and prosperity.
DEMOCRAT: Closing loopholes.
REPUBLICAN: Raising taxes.
REPUBLICAN: Labor bosses.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) most recent fundraising letter to solicit donations for a potential recall election minces no words in going after his Democratic and union opponents. The four-page letter uses a variation of “Big Labor Bosses” 14 times. — Amanda Terkel, Huffington Post, 1-20-12
DEMOCRAT: Safety net.
REPUBLICAN: Web of dependence.
DEMOCRAT: Nutrition assistance.
REPUBLICAN: Food stamps.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev, said Thursday, “House Republicans’ vote to deny nutrition assistance to hungry, low-income Americans is shameful. The Senate will never pass such hateful, punitive legislation.” — USA Today, 9-19-13
DEMOCRAT: Right to privacy.
REPUBLICAN: “Leave us alone.”
REPUBLICAN: Victim mentality.
“It’s well-documented that [photo ID] laws disproportionately
DEMOCRAT: “Culture of corruption.”
REPUBLICAN: “Politics of personal destruction.”
(Note: this switches back and forth depending on which party is in trouble)
REPUBLICAN: Liberal media bias.
DEMOCRAT: Corporate-owned media bias.
“With U.S. media outlets overwhelmingly owned by for-profit conglomerates and supported by corporate advertisers, independent journalism is compromised.” — Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR)
DEMOCRAT: False equivalency.
“Why did [the shutdown] occur? Because a media and political system allowed false equivalencies to rule the day. False equivalencies give plausibility to each side even if one side is provably wrong.” — Egberto Willies, Daily Kos, 10-13-13
REPUBLICAN: “End our dangerous reliance on foreign oil.”
DEMOCRAT: “End our dangerous reliance on fossil fuels.”
REPUBLICAN: Carbon dioxide.
DEMOCRAT: “Death gas.”
“The Environmental Protection Agency formally declared Monday that carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels poses a threat to human health and welfare.” — Washington Times, 12-7-09
DEMOCRAT: Blue Dogs.
“There is no place in the Democratic Party for Democrat-hating Blue Dogs like [former Arkansas Rep. Mike] Ross.” — Kos, Daily Kos, 4-17-13
DEMOCRAT: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…”
REPUBLICAN: “…The right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
DEMOCRAT: Modern Family.
REPUBLICAN: Duck Dynasty.
John K. Herr is a Washington D.C.-based speechwriter and standup comedian (stage name “Herricane”). He has written for three governors and four Cabinet secretaries, and wrote jokes for President George W. Bush. He can be reached by email (email@example.com), or follow him on Twitter (@jherricane).