Political Terms to Know for the 2008 Election L-Z


Bone up on your political jargon with this handy list of political phrases and expressions. While there are many of these, this list may be especially relevant to Presidential Election 2008, so keep an eye out for spotting these concepts as the race unfolds in all its drama!

Lame duck - This is an elected official who is soon losing political power and is no longer feeling very responsible for his or her actions. Typical lame duck maneuvers are to pull off a string of moves just before leaving, which they never would have done if they had to worry about getting elected again. What will George Bush pull out of his sleeve next December?

Neo-Luddism - This is a modern movement of opposition to specific or general technological development. Usage: "You don't like stem cell research, the creation of a national broadband network, or computer classes in every school? What a Neo-Luddite!"

Pressure politics - The use of intimidation, threats, and mass media to persuade politicians that the public demands a particular action. It may be the will of the people, or it may be five kids in their basement spamming emails to make it look like 500,000 angry voters are demanding something. Look for pressure politics whenever any special interest makes a lot of noise about how a candidate's stance on an issue just lost their vote.

Reality-based - What non-religious voters call religious voters, as opposed to "religion-based". Usage: "No intelligent-design pseudo-science in my kid's classroom, thank you very much; I'd like her education to be reality-based."

Rubber stamp - The notional tool used by party members to approve anything their party candidate does. The decision to label something right or wrong, depending on which party it came from. Whenever intense polarization exists in a two-party system, look for rubber stamps everywhere.

Social chauvinism - Fanatical patriotism during a time of war. Us or them! Look for social chauvinism to come up in any discussion of war policy concerning how inferior the other country is to the United States.

Stalking horse - Aaaah, the subtle approach! A stalking horse is a candidate entered into a race specifically to keep another candidate from drawing too many votes, by splitting the targeted party. Are there any candidates in this race who have been entered to steal popularity from another candidate in the opposing party, while being too unpopular to draw any votes in their own party and hence not damage the front-runner's campaign? Are there any of them aimed at a specific demographic, like Internet users, for instance? Spotting the stalking horse is a fun, but challenging game. Look for single-digit poll numbers, insane amounts of money contributed, and irrational social media hype and silly publicity stunts that together defies all explanation.

Third rail - From the subway train metaphor, the third rail is the untouchable issue that if any politician touches it, their campaign will be damaged. Gay marriage and marijuana legalization are two of the third rails this election.

Useful idiot - This term came into use to describe what the Soviets would have thought of an American Soviet-sympathizer. However, look for it to be bandied about to describe a Liberal-sympathizer in the Republican's camp, or vice-versa.

Wealth primary - The scramble for campaign contributions by all of the candidates, which, thanks to the inflated cost of campaigning, begins many months before the party primaries select their final nominations. It isn't much good to win a party primary, if you're too broke to campaign after you've been nominated.


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