Liberals are winning the language war
Are conservatives linguistically challenged? Or are they just naïve enough to think they can win the battle of ideas with — ideas?
Okay, and money.
Conservatives, like liberals, will spend huge amounts of money this year to get their ideas across to voters. But what they fail to do is bundle their thoughts into a bright, shiny linguistic package that explodes in the face of their enemies when opened.
The left has assembled a rich lexicon of phrases that serve either as stilettos that can be turned again and again in the guts of their opponents, or shields that obscure their true intentions.
The phrasing can be at best vicious, at worst dishonest. But conservatives should consider concocting some nasty comebacks, lest they continue to be perceived as Neanderthals battling forces of progress.
Did I just use the term “Neanderthal”? You immediately knew I couldn’t have meant liberals, because liberals are enlightened. They are Cro-Magnons, each and every one.
Now you see the problem.
Herewith, a list of the top liberal epithets and euphemisms. Let’s start with the former:
War on Women: When Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) noted a few weeks ago that Democrats, who accuse Republicans of waging a “war on women,” were strangely unappalled by President Bill Clinton’s “predatory” behavior, he was slyly undermining one of the worst charges lodged by Democrats.
Really? A war on women? This is blandly repeated by Democrats everywhere as accepted science. But how foolish. One supposedly hates women because one is anti-abortion. Are the women who oppose abortion all self-loathing?
Obstructionists: This means “conservatives.” That is, people who have small- government principles and get in the way of the liberal agenda. They need to get out of the way so Congress can start “getting things done.” Which is always better than not getting things done — even if the things that got done have left us $17.5 trillion in debt.
Climate Change Deniers: This one has had language surgery twice. First, when liberals noticed the weather was inconsistent, global warming turned into “climate change.” True, the 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 1998. But it’s also true that global land and ocean temperature increases combined have leveled off since 1998, which was the third hottest year. All the years since then have been in the same general vicinity. That is, there has been no overall warming for 15 years.
And deniers. Such vitriol. The only other deniers in public discourse are those who deny the Holocaust. And so people who question whether global warming produced Hurricane Sandy, more tornadoes in the Midwest, an increase in UFO landings – or whatever the latest claim – are subtly lumped with those who sought to exterminate the Jewish people.
Wingnuts and Tea Baggers: Pure insults, routinely dispatched by supposedly respectable people.
Assault Weapons: A.K.A. guns. Actually, the term varies depending on who is using it. But assault weapon, a redundancy if I’ve ever heard one, sounds really vicious, and the Constitution doesn’t guarantee the right to bear assault weapons.
And now on to the euphemisms:
Tax reform: Until President Barack Obama, tax reform meant revenue-neutral changes to the tax code, designed to make it fairer and simpler by culling unnecessary or unfair breaks and other weirdness. But Obama has decided it means doing all these things and raising revenues. So now “tax reform” means “tax increase.”
Investments: This is now the acceptable term among Democrats for what used to be called spending. It means that even if spending has no discernable benefit, it’s sure to pay off down the road. You can bet your bottom tax dollar. And you will.
Common Sense Measures: Something everyone who is smart, rational, non-cave dwelling, educated and reasonable — that is, someone who is not a conservative — can agree on.
Living Wage: This term, which means enough to live on, is used interchangeably with minimum wage, which is nothing more than the minimum amount a company must pay to workers. So entry-level work must pay like you’ve already gotten that raise. No need to scrimp and save or live with your parents until you’re self-sufficient.
Abortion rights: How is it that liberals managed to ensure this phrase is routinely used in the mainstream media as a supposedly neutral idea. So now if you oppose abortion, you oppose someone’s “rights.” Bad place to be rhetorically.
Progressive: Notice I keep calling the left “liberals.” This is because I refuse to accept the left’s redefinition of itself in terms of the old “progressive” label. Liberals understood that President Ronald Reagan had successfully turned “liberal” into a kind of dirty word. So they decided to create a new brand by giving themselves a new name.
Conservatives must realize that your father’s pejorative terms — “bleeding-heart liberal” and “tax-and-spend liberal” — are just as good for laughs these days.
Of course, conservatives have a few solid catch-phrases. “Pro-life” worked because opposition means . . . pro-death. And a couple of recent terms like “job creators” to refer to businesspeople and “death panels” to refer to healthcare experts have hit the mark. But Republicans are still way behind.
Here’s a starter kit.
Anti-Self Defense: A no brainer. It stands to reason that liberals believe home invaders can be warded off with a reasoned discussion of the need for more federal spending to address their specific grievance.
Hot Air Blowers: The global warming non-deniers deserve worse than this for demonizing their opponents, but a suggestion that they’re full of it will do.
The War on Success: What else to call the effort to raise taxes and the federal government’s expanding purview over our lives?
Lemming Economics: Any ideology that calls for Americans to all jump over the debt cliff together by increasing spending.
It’s a long road back for Republicans to rhetorical parity with Democrats. But they can make it, one insult at a time.
PHOTO (TOP): Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky) delivers his speech to the Faith & Freedom Coalition Road to Majority Conference Kickoff Luncheon in Washington, June 13, 2013. REUTERS/Gary Cameron
PHOTO (INSERT): Protesters rally in the rotunda of the State Capitol as the state Senate meets to consider legislation restricting abortion rights in Austin, Texas, July 12, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Stone