Political Terms used in the United States
Ableism - Ableism is discrimination against people with disabilities. This means expressions of fear or hate for people with disabilities, a denial of accessibility, as well as institutionalized discrimination. Ableism was first defined in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1981.
Aboriginal Peoples - A collective name for the diverse Indigenous peoples—the original inhabitants of North America, South America, Oceania (Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia) before European colonization. While the collective term has offered a sense of solidarity among Indigenous communities, the term has also functioned to erase the distinct histories, languages, cultural practices, and sovereignty of the hundreds of nations that lived on these continents prior to European colonization. As such, its usage is often debated, with communities preferring their own terms of self-identification. Recently, the term Indigenous has become more prevalent, as it is the term adopted in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. https://www.aclrc.com/glossary
Absent Vote - A vote cast by voters who are out of their division but still within their State or Territory which may be cast at any polling place in that State or Territory.
Absolute Monarchy - a form of government where the monarch (i.e. king or queen) rules unhindered, without any laws, constitution or legally organized opposition. Most often, a ruler inherits their office from a family member and usually rules until their death or their abdication.
Acclamation - An acclamation, in its most common sense, is a form of election that does not use a ballot.
Act - A law that has been passed by the legislature and approved by the president at the federal level or by the governor at the state level.
Activist - A person who takes up a social or political cause and campaigns for it – for example, affordable housing or migrant rights.
Ad Hoc Committee - A committee that is formed to carry out a task and then breaks up when the task is over.
Advocacy Journalism - journalism that is openly and transparently non-objective and supportive of a particular viewpoint. Those who practice advocacy journalism reject the traditional ideal of objectivity because it is impossible to achieve.
Allyship - a process that involves working and/or acting in solidarity with an oppressed group to undo the effects of past and current oppression. One type of ally is a white ally. A white ally acknowledges the limits of her/his/their knowledge about other people’s experiences but doesn't use that as a reason not to think and/or act. A white ally does not remain silent but confronts racism as it comes up daily, but also seeks to deconstruct it institutionally and live in a way that challenges systemic oppression, at the risk of experiencing some of that oppression. Being a white ally entails building relationships with both people of color, and also with white people in order to challenge them in their thinking about race. White allies don’t have it all figured out, but are committed to non-complacency.
Ambassador - the highest-ranking diplomat accredited to a country. A diplomat is anyone in the foreign service posted to another country. A diplomat is still just a public servant (albeit a glamorous one). An Ambassador, h0wever, has a status closer to a minister and is more than a public servant.
Amendment - A minor change to a law or contract. The U.S. Constitution has 27 amendments. The first ten are known as the Bill of Rights.
Amicus Briefs - are legal documents filed in appellate court cases by non-litigants with a strong interest in the subject matter. The briefs advise the court of relevant, additional information or arguments that the court might wish to consider.
Anarchy - a political theory that holds all forms of governmental authority to be unnecessary and undesirable. Anarchists advocate for a society based on voluntary cooperation and free association of individuals and groups that are non-hierarchical.
Anti-Establishment Democrat – opposes the existing power structure of the traditional Democratic Party especially as it relates to campaigns being funded by the fossil fuel industry, weapons manufacturers, and other deep pocketed corporations that do not prioritize social responsibility or the concerns of working class people.
Antifa - From the word "anti-fascist", antifa is a political movement that opposes fascism and other forms of extreme right-wing ideologies. Antifa is a leaderless movement comprised of a diverse array of autonomous groups. They aim to achieve their objectives through the use of a series of direct actions rather than engage in policy reform in the traditional way.
Anti-Racist Action - Direct actions that are done specifically to dismantle institutionalized practices of racism. Anti-Racist Actions are also used to identify/call-out and confront racist ideologies which manifest overtly and covertly in institutions, conversations, curriculum, and organizational structures.
Appropriation - “The claiming of rights to language, subject matter, and authority that are outside one's personal experience. The term also refers to the process by which members of relatively privileged groups ‘raid’ the culture of marginalized groups, abstracting cultural practices or artefacts from their historically specific contexts” (Henry & Tator, 2006, p. 347).7 The term also applies to the economic exploitation of marginalized groups (particularly Indigenous peoples) by producing and selling cultural/intellectual property. In such cases, the communities from which the practices/items originate are neither consulted nor given any share of the profits. This is often the case with dream catchers, Inukshuks, soapstone carvings, inappropriate/unauthorized use of images on clothing or furniture. (Source: https://www.aclrc.com/glossary )
Aristocracy – a form of government where power is held by the nobility, especially those holding hereditary titles or offices.
Assembly - A law-making or legislative body. Almost every state in the United States has an assembly as part of its form of civil government. Except for Nebraska, all state legislatures are bicameral bodies, composed of a lower house (Assembly, General Assembly, State Assembly, House of Delegates, or House of Representatives) and an upper house (Senate).
Astroturf - Sponsors of a message or organization (e.g., political, advertising, religious or public relations) that make it appear as though their message originated from and is supported by grassroots participants. Fake grassroots.
Attorney General – the main legal advisor to the government representing the public interest. Attorneys general are chief legal officers of the states, commonwealths, and territories of the United States, they serve as counselors to state government agencies and legislatures, and as representatives of the public interest.
Austerity - a conservative led campaign to cut budgets that began in the aftermath of the global financial crisis of 2008. Austerity is a set of political-economic policies that aim to reduce government budget deficits through spending cuts, tax increases, or a combination of both. However, many economists argue that rather than stimulating economic growth, austerity policies have led to a dismantling of the social systems that operated as a buffer against economic hardship, exposing austerity to be a form of systematic violence.
Authoritarian - a form of government characterized by strong central government that imposes strict obedience of the government at the expense of personal freedom.
Autocratic - A form of government where unlimited power is held by a single individual.
Backdoor Draft - Military term used to describe the current U.S. government policy of keeping troops in the military beyond their original enlistment contracts through the utilization of “stop loss orders” (keeping specific shortage job specialties such as military intelligence and aviation in) and “stop movement orders” (locking down entire units so that troops can’t leave the military or rotate out into another unit). Some troops have spent one to two years serving past their enlistment contract or retirement date. Source: Urban Dictionary (also see Economic Draft)
Ballot Box Stuffing - An illegal action that involves voting many times to affect the result of an election
Bandwagon effect - The tendency for a popular candidate or proposal to gather even more support simply because they appear to be winning; also called the ‘snowball effect’.
Beltway - A term to describe the politically and socially insular community of Washington DC. Derived from Interstate Highway 495 which circumnavigates Washington forming a “belt”.
Bicameral Legislature - any lawmaking body of government that consists of two separate houses or chambers. Usually a lower house such as the House of Representatives and an upper house, the Senate. They make up the United States Congress at the federal level. At the state level there is the State Senate and Assembly that make up state legislative bodies in the United States (for each state except for Nebraska).
Big Brother - A type of state, envisaged by George Orwell in his novel, “1984”, in which the government tracks each person’s movements and knows everything about all citizens
Bilderberg Meeting - an annual conference established in 1954 to foster dialogue between Europe and North America to bolster a consensus around free market Western capitalism and its interests around the globe. (Source: Wikipedia)
Bill - A draft of a new law or change to a current law that has yet to be passed. If approved, at all stages, it then becomes an act and thus law.
Bill of Rights - the first 10 amendments to the United States Constitution. Also known as civil liberties.
Binary Thinking - A Western, capitalist form of perceiving the world that conceives of things only in terms of oppositions: either/or, good/bad, right/wrong, winner/loser, for/against. Binary thinking can be a form of denial or resistance; it supposes that there are only 2 mutually exclusive options and nothing in between. For example, when it comes to Indigenous sovereignty, non-Indigenous individuals may feel that if such a group gains rights, they themselves are automatically losing something (perhaps their home or vacation property) when in reality, someone else’s gain is not their loss.
Bird-Dogging - To track down a political candidate to a public event and get in a position to ask him/her questions on issues they would rather not talk about, and to ask follow-up questions if answers are evasive.
Bipartisanship - Cooperation on an issue where the normally opposing political parties come together to agree on an initiative. Technically, the term means two parties coming together.
BIPOC - An acronym for Black, Indigenous, People of Color. BIPOC is meant to emphasize the particular hardships faced by Black and Indigenous people in the US and Canada—especially because Indigenous people often get forgotten in social justice causes and that anti-Black racism is particularly virulent. (Source: Dictionary.com)
Brokered Convention - contested convention. A situation in American primary presidential election campaigns where no candidate, by the time of the convention after the final primary election, has accrued the most delegates. Delegates are then freed from their commitment to support their original candidate, and so called “horse trading” is engaged in until one candidate can attain a majority and thus go on to become the party’s nominee. The winner is not necessarily the first or second highest delegate holder but can also be a compromise candidate, as happened in the 1924 Democratic convention. Technically a brokered convention is only when power brokers, such as super delegates, un-elected party insiders, step in and use their reserve powers to decide the issue.
Brown Act - A California law that was enacted in response to mounting public concerns over informal, undisclosed meetings held by local elected officials. The act requires that City councils, county boards, and other local government bodies meetings be open to the public. The Brown Act solely applies to California city and county government agencies, boards, and councils.
Budget Deficit - When government revenue is less than government spending. When the amount going out is greater than the amount coming in.
Cancel Culture - refers to the popular practice of withdrawing support for (canceling) public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive. Cancel culture is generally discussed as being performed on social media in the form of group shaming.
Carbon Footprint - A carbon footprint is the total greenhouse gas emissions caused by an individual, event, organization, service, place or product, expressed as carbon dioxide equivalent. (Source: Wikipedia)
Carbon Sequestration - Carbon sequestration or carbon dioxide removal is the long-term removal, capture or sequestration of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to slow or reverse atmospheric CO2 pollution and to mitigate or reverse global warming. (Source: Wikipedia)
Carceral State - Penal policies unprecedented in modern U.S. history, and unheard of or disdained in most other countries have resulted in the United States being the biggest jailer in the world.
Capitalism - An economic system in which private individuals and corporations control trade and industry. Capitalism, as it is practiced in the United States, is free market driven and controlled by the drive to increase profit regardless of the social consequences.
Caucus - A group or a closed meeting of people, especially members of a political party, with power to decide on policy or to select a candidate.
Centrist – also referred to as moderate. Voters and politicians who describe themselves as centrist often mean that they advocate neither left-wing nor right-wing ideologies. Centrism itself is not an ideology as much as it is an attempt to avoid taking a stand.
Cisgender - a gender identity term used to describe people who identify as the gender/sex they were assigned at birth. For example, if a doctor said “it’s a boy!” when you were born, and you identify as a man, then you could be described as a cisgender man.
Source and Further Reading: Basic Rights Oregon. Trans 101: Cisgender.
Civic Journalism - integrates journalism into the democratic process. Civic journalists believe the media not only informs the public, but it also works towards engaging citizens and creating public debate. Those who embrace the idea of civic journalism have rejected the idea that objective reporting is even possible. They don't believe that journalists can be objective spectators of politics and they won't pretend otherwise.
Civil Liberties – Freedoms captured in the first ten amendments of the U.S. Constitution also known as the Bill of Rights. The freedom to act, assemble, think or speak as you wish, regulated only as much as is needed for the good of other people. Things the government must not infringe upon. A negative right, in other words, the right to be free from. Protected speech is an example.
Civil Rights – Provided through the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Protects the basic right to be free from unequal treatment based on certain protected characteristics (race, gender, disability, etc.) in settings such as employment and housing. Things the government must do. A positive right, in other words, the right to a specific benefit.
Classism - The cultural, institutional and individual set of practices and beliefs that assign value to people according to their socio-economic status. In classism, those in the “upper” and “middle” classes are considered more valuable than those of “lower” classes, such that those in the upper classes are taken more seriously and seen as contributing “more” to society at the expense of recognizing that the class structure is based on exploitation of the labour of the so-called lower classes. Based in capitalist economics and imperialism, classes have been racialized, and can be seen in both local, national, and international contexts: “First World” and “Third World,” for example.
Cloture - A motion in legislative systems to bring a filibuster to an end and thus allow a vote on the bill at hand. French for “ending”. (scroll down to see "filibuster").
Code Switch - In linguistics, code-switching or language alternation occurs when a speaker alternates between two or more languages, or language varieties, in the context of a single conversation. Multilinguals, speakers of more than one language, sometimes use elements of multiple languages when conversing with each other. The term is also used to describe a person who shifts the way they express themselves in order to fit in with a different race or ethnic group. Sometimes this is done unintentionally. Code-switching can even extend to body language and other nonverbal cues.
Collective Bargaining - the negotiation of wages, benefits and other conditions of employment by an organized body of employees.
Colonialism - The policy or practice of taking full or partial political control of another country, occupying it with settlers, and exploiting its resources for economical gain that is not shared equitably with the residents of the country being occupied. Colonialism is a practice of domination that involves subjugation of one people to another.
Colony - A country or area under the full or partial political control of another country, typically a distant one, and occupied by settlers from that country.
Colorism - The set of institutions and practices that privilege those with lighter skin color and discriminate against those with darker skin color. Here is an essay in the LA Progressive that addresses colorism.
Color-Blindness - Non recognition of the significance of race. Fosters the systematic denial of racial subordination and the psychological repression of an individual's recognition of that subordination, thereby allowing such subordinating to continue. Source - the Paradox of Power and Privilege
Commonwealth - a nation, state or other political entity founded on law and united by a compact of the people for the common good.
Communist - a system of government in which the state plans and controls the economy and a single -- often authoritarian -- party holds power; state controls are imposed with the elimination of private ownership of property or capital while claiming to make progress toward a higher social order in which all goods are equally shared by the people (i.e., a classless society).
Comprador Bourgeoisie - A section of an indigenous middle class allied with foreign investors, multinational corporations, bankers, and military interests.
Comprador Class - a term for the natives of a colonized land that are "bought" by the colonizers. The term 'comprador class' has been defined; “[A] relatively privileged, wealthy and educated. elite… introduced by colonial domination, and who may therefore be less inclined to struggle for. (Source: EAJournals.org)
Confederacy (Confederation) - a union by compact or treaty between states, provinces or territories that creates a central government with limited powers; the constituent entities retain supreme authority over all matters except those delegated to the central government.
Conservative - the holding of political views that favor free enterprise, private ownership, and social ideas that are resistant to change or progress. The central tenets of conservatism include tradition, social Darwinism, hierarchy, authority, and property rights. Conservatives seek to preserve a range of institutions such as religion, limited government, and property rights, with the aim of emphasizing social stability through continuity of traditions.
Constitutional - a government by or operating under an authoritative document (constitution) that sets forth the system of fundamental laws and principles that determines the nature, functions and limits of that government.
Constitutional Amendment - The process to alter the constitution. In the United States, a Constitutional Amendment must be ratified by either two-thirds of both the Senate and House of Representatives, or three quarters of the state governments. The U.S. Constitution has been amended 27 times since inception - this includes the first ten amendments which is known as the Bill of Rights.
Constitutional Democracy - a form of government in which the sovereign power of the people is spelled out in a governing constitution.
Constitutional Monarchy - a system of government in which a monarch is guided by a constitution whereby his/her rights, duties, and responsibilities are spelled out in written law or by custom.
Cooptation - to assimilate, take, or win over into a larger or established group: The fledgling Labor party was coopted by the Socialist party. to appropriate as one's own; preempt: The dissidents have coopted the title of her novel for their slogan.
Copaganda - a word created by combining two words, "Cop" and "Propaganda" to describe the intentional use of television shows and other media to shape public opinion of law enforcement. Some argue that copaganda has increased since the Black Lives Matter movement in an effort to undermine the movement.
Corporatism – a system of government in which the control of the state is vested in the hands of corporations. This system of government was supported by fascists from 1922 until 1943 in Italy and is viewed as a form of fascism.
Council on Foreign Relations - a U.S. nonprofit think tank, founded in 1921 to research and advocate in the area of U.S. foreign policy and international affairs. It is headquartered in New York City, with an additional office in Washington, D.C. Its membership, which numbers 5,103, has included senior politicians, more than a dozen secretaries of state, CIA directors, bankers, lawyers, professors, and senior media figures. (Source: Wikipedia)
Counter-Scheduling - a term coined by Bill Clinton's campaign team. It describes a method used to gain broader acceptance with outsiders by attacking components of your own group. Similar to respectability politics, a leader to admonish elements of his own group to gain favor. An example of this is Bill Clinton's famous public admonition of Sister Souljah while speaking at a Rainbow Coalition Conference.
Critical Race Theory - Critical Race Theory recognizes that racism is embedded in every aspect of U.S. society. See: Critical Race Theory: An Introduction
Cronyism - partiality to long term friends especially as evidenced in the appointment of political hangers-on to office without regard to their qualifications.
Cult of Personality - A term coined by Thomas A. Wright in a paper he wrote in 2013. In it, he says, "What is character and why it really does matter. The cult of personality phenomenon refers to the idealized, even god-like, public image of an individual consciously shaped and molded through constant propaganda and media exposure. As a result, one is able to manipulate others based entirely on the influence of public personality...the cult of personality perspective focuses on the often shallow, external images that many public figures cultivate to create an idealized and heroic image."
Cultural Appropriation - Taking objects, practices, and bodies out of their cultural context and exhibiting or performing them without consideration of the privilege such a removal or display entails. Oftentimes this goes hand-in-hand with exotification and fetishization of other cultures.
Cultural Capital - Non-financial social resources that promote social mobility or help sustain a person in a particular class. Examples include education, knowledge about dress codes, historical knowledge about a particular place, accents,
Cultural Liberal - view of society that stresses the freedom of individuals from cultural norms and in the words of Henry David Thoreau is often expressed as the right to "march to the beat of a different drummer".
Cultural liberals believe that society should not impose any specific code of behavior and they see themselves as defending the moral rights of nonconformists to express their own identity however they see fit, as long as they do not harm anyone.
Dark Horse Candidate - An almost unknown contestant in an election who achieves unexpected support.
Dark Money - money spent on political campaigns by nonprofit organizations that are not required to disclose their donors. For example, 501(c)(4) (social welfare) 501(c)(5) (unions) and 501(c)(6) (trade association) groups. A dark money example is found here. For an in depth explanation of this phenomenon that exploded after the Citizen's United U.S. Supreme Court Case, read Jane Mayer's book, "Dark Money".
Deep State - State within a state. A situation in a country when a government agency, such as a branch of the armed forces, an intelligence agency, police, or a bureaucratic department, acts (conspiratorially or overtly) independently of civilian democratic leadership. According to political scientist George Friedman, the Deep State has been in place since 1871 and continues beneath the federal government, controlling and frequently reshaping policies; in this view the U.S. civil service, was created to limit the power of the president. Prior to 1871, the president could select federal employees, all of whom served at the pleasure of the president. This is no longer the case.
Defense Production Act - A law that allows the president, largely through executive order, to direct private companies to prioritize orders from the federal government. The president is also empowered to “allocate materials, services, and facilities” for national defense purposes, and take actions to restrict hoarding of needed supplies.
Delegate - A person who attends a political or other convention and who has been given the power to represent others and make decisions for them at that convention. (also see Super Delegate).
Demagogue - A leader who gains popularity by appealing to prejudice and basic instincts. Considered manipulative and dangerous. Often runs a populist campaign.
Democracy - a form of government in which the supreme power is retained by the people, but which is usually exercised indirectly through a system of representation and delegated authority periodically renewed.
Democratic Republic - a state in which the supreme power rests in the body of citizens entitled to vote for officers and representatives responsible to them.
Democratic Socialism - a political philosophy supporting political democracy within a socially owned economy, with an emphasis on workers' self-management and democratic control of economic institutions within a market socialist economy or some form of a decentralized planned socialist economy.
Despot - A ruler, usually a dictator or other type of authoritarian, who exercises total power, especially in a cruel or harsh way.
Despotism - Power and control imposed by the government exerting its dominance through threat or actual use of punishment and violence.
Dictatorship - a form of government in which a ruler or small clique wield absolute power (not restricted by a constitution or laws).
DINO - Democrat in Name Only
Diplomat - an official representing a country abroad. (see Ambassador).
Disaster Porn - When the media puts horrific or tragic images on a 24 hour loop. Disaster porn is used to generate financial support. Most commonly associated with 9/11. (Source: Urban Dictionary)
Disenfranchisement - the revocation of suffrage (the right to vote) of a person or group of people, or through practices, prevention of a person exercising the right to vote.
Dog Whistle - A type of political speech where a campaigner either does, or is alleged to, put code words in their speech to imply more than what is said on its face. Terms like “family values”, “Law and Order” are examples dog whistling.
Doxing - Publicly revealing personal information about someone or about an organization on the internet. Usually done to damage the target.
Dominant Group - The group that is positively valued, considered to be superior, independent, or “normal” and has access to social power.
Dunbar Number - a suggested cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships—relationships in which an individual knows who each person is and how each person relates to every other person. British anthropologist Robin Dunbar coined the “Rule of 150” to define this limit. His theory is that numbers larger than this generally require more restrictive rules, laws, and enforced norms.
Dunmoore's Proclamation - a historical document signed on November 7, 1775 by John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore, royal governor of the British Colony of Virginia. The proclamation declared martial law and promised freedom for slaves of American revolutionaries who left their owners and joined the royal forces, becoming Black Loyalists. (Source: Wikipedia)
Dunning School - refers to a historiographical school of thought regarding the Reconstruction period of American history (1865–1877), supporting conservative elements against the Radical Republicans who introduced civil rights in the South.
Earned Media - free publicity gained through promotional efforts other than paid media advertising, typically through cable news and political news broadcasts. Valuable to candidates who don't have a huge war chest. Incumbents running for office often benefit from this. Donald Trump maximized the use of earned media during the 2016 Presidential Campaign.
Economic Draft - Civilian men and women after being laid off from their job broaden there horizon in the hunt for new work and settle with the U.S military. They do this because of the lack of job security,Benefits,Growth and opportunity in their community's due to the economic strain. Even if there is no military "draft" in place it is perceived this way due to the high number of people signing up for enlisted employment which will include steady pay, benefits and room to grow. (Source: Urban Dictionary)
Ecclesiastical - a government administrated by a church.
EDIB - Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging
EEOC - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is a federal agency that administers and enforces civil rights laws against workplace discrimination.
Electorate – All those who have a right to vote in an election.
Elector – A person who votes or has the right to vote.
Electoral College - a set of electors who are selected to elect a candidate to a particular office. Often these represent different organizations, political parties, or entities, with each organization, political party or entity represented by a particular number of electors or with votes weighted in a particular way. In the United States, the Electoral College, which consists of 538 people, elects the president.
Electoral Vote - the opposite of the popular vote. In the United States, the president is elected to office based on the outcome of the electoral vote, not the popular vote. In it's history, the U.S. has had five presidential elections where the victor did not win the popular vote but won the electoral vote -- they are John Quincy Adams, Rutherford B. Hayes, Benjamin Harrison, George W. Bush and Donald Trump.
Emirate - like a monarchy or sultanate, a government in which the supreme power is in the hands of an emir (the ruler of a Muslim state); the emir may be an absolute overlord or a sovereign with constitutionally limited authority.
Emiseration - economic impoverishment. Alternative spelling: Immiseration.
Emoluments Clause - The emoluments clause, also called the foreign emoluments clause, is a provision of the U.S. Constitution (Article I, Section 9, Paragraph 8) that generally prohibits federal officeholders from receiving any gift, payment, or other thing of value from a foreign state or its rulers, officers, or representatives. (Source: Brittanica.com)
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is a federal agency that administers and enforces civil rights laws against workplace discrimination.
Executive – One of the three branches of government in the United States. The other two are the Legislative and the Judiciary. Some call the "Fourth Estate/the Media" an unofficial branch of government.
Exit Poll - A survey of some voters leaving a polling station asking them who (or what) they voted for to give an early indication of voting trends and help predict results.
Expansionism - The use of state power to build empire or colonialize. In the classical age of conquest, moral justification for territorial expansion, using displacement, subjugation, slavery, rape and extermination was normalized. Expansionism was employed in the taking of the land and labor used to build the United States.
Faction - A grouping of individuals that form a dissenting group within a larger group ultimately causing a split.
Fair Labor and Standards Act - A U.S. law enacted in 1938 that created the right to a minimum wage and time-and-a-half overtime pay for people who work over forty hours a week.
Fairness Doctrine - The fairness doctrine of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), was introduced in 1949. It was a policy that required the holders of broadcast licenses to present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that fairly reflected differing viewpoints. It was eradicated in 1987. (Source: Wikipedia)
Faithless Elector - In United States presidential elections, a faithless elector is a member of the United States Electoral College who does not vote for the presidential or vice-presidential candidate for whom they had pledged to vote. (Source: Wikipedia)
False Flag - an act committed with the intent of disguising the actual source of responsibility and pinning blame on a second party. The term is popular amongst conspiracy theory promoters in referring to covert operations of various governments and cabals. The term "false flag" originated in the 16th century as a purely figurative expression to mean "a deliberate misrepresentation of someone’s affiliation or motives"
Fascism - a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism. Exalts nation above the individual.
Federal Republic - a state in which the powers of the central government are restricted and in which the component parts (states, colonies, or provinces) retain a degree of self-government; ultimate sovereign power rests with the voters who chose their governmental representatives.
Federal Reserve System - The Federal Reserve System (FRS), often called simply "the Fed", is the central bank of the United States and arguably the most powerful financial institution in the world. The Fed is an independent central bank. It is not a governmental entity. Its monetary policy decisions do not have to be approved by the President or by anyone else in the executive or legislative branches of government.
Federalism (Federation) - a form of government in which sovereign power is formally divided -- usually by means of a constitution -- between a central authority and a number of constituent regions (states, colonies or provinces) so that each region retains some management of its internal affairs; differs from a confederacy in that the central government exerts influence directly upon both individuals as well as upon the regional units.
Federalist Papers - The Federalist, commonly referred to as the Federalist Papers, is a series of 85 essays written by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison between October 1787 and May 1788. The essays were published anonymously, under the pen name "Publius," in various New York state newspapers of the time. Source: U.S. Library of Congress
Federalist Society - an American conservative and libertarian legal organization that advocates for a textualist and originalist interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. (see Originalism below)
Fiat Money - government-issued currency that isn't backed by a commodity such as gold. Fiat money gives central banks greater control over the economy because they can control how much money is printed. Most modern paper currencies, such as the U.S. dollar, are fiat currencies. Source: Investopedia
Filibuster - a political procedure where one or more members of congress speaks over a proposed piece of legislation for an extended period of time in order to delay or entirely prevent a decision from being made on the proposal. The record for the longest individual speech goes to South Carolina's Strom Thurmond who filibustered for 24 hours and 18 minutes against the Civil Rights Act of 1957.
Fiscally Conservative - advocating low taxes, reduced government spending and minimal government debt. Free trade, deregulation of the economy, lower taxes and privatization are the defining qualities of fiscal conservatism.
Fishing Expedition - a pejorative term for an inquiry with extremely loose terms of reference, if not open ended, where any embarrassing or damaging information is allegedly hoped to be revealed, even though there is little credible evidence of wrongdoing to initiate the investigation.
Forum Shopping - Forum shopping is a colloquial term for the practice of litigants having their legal case heard in the court thought most likely to provide a favorable judgment. (Source: Wikipedia)
Fourth Estate - An unofficial branch of government with political power and authority comprised of the press and other forms of the media. In the United States, the other three estates are the three branches of government – the executive, the legislative, and the judiciary.
Fractionalization - political instability and division
Franchise – the right to vote. (also see Disenfranchised, Suffrage)
Freedom of Information Act(FOIA) - A law giving a person the right to access certain information held by public bodies and Government departments.
Gaslighting - a term used to characterize a specific type of manipulation where the manipulator tries to get someone or a group of people to question their own reality, memory or perceptions. A form of abuse that involves a person or group of people who intentionally attempt to cause others to doubt their sanity.
Gendarmerie - A military force that has law enforcement responsibilities as it relates to civilian populations.
Gendarm - A member of the gendarmerie military force that is used to enforce laws with civilian populations.
Gender Expression - How one presents and expresses their gender to the world. Sometimes used in terms of masculine and feminine, but not limited to the two.
Genderism - A system of prejudice and discrimination based on one’s gender identity, expression, presentation and/or perceived gender; most often against people who do not confirm to dominant norms of masculine/male/man or feminine/female/woman.
Gender Identity - The internal sense of how you perceive yourself and your gender.
Genderqueer - Someone whose gender identity is both man and woman, neither man nor woman, or something else. A fluid gender identity that defies categorization into the male-female gender binary that assumes many or no characteristics of these normative genders.
Gender Non-conforming - Someone whose gender expression is different than the societal expectations of that person’s gender. Not all GNC people identify as transgender.
Gerrymander- Deliberately dividing a constituency in a way that gives an advantage to one political party or to voters.
Glad-Handler - An excessively “friendly” person, typically a politician, who greets another effusively but insincerely to gain popularity.
Global Insurrection Against Banker Occupation (GIABO) - A term that originated during the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011 defined in the Urban Dictionary as "people taking back their freedom through non participation in the FIAT monetary experiment which is failing. Source: Urban Dictionary
Grass Roots - The ordinary and common people. Term generally refers to movements that arise when ordinary people have unmet needs so they organize, often without pay, to get their demands met, frequently without the involvement of professionals or elected leaders. Green Party – a formally organized political party based on the principles of green politics, such as social justice, environmentalism and nonviolence.
Graymail - A term used in the CIA that is similar to blackmail but is used to characterize the threat of a CIA officer on trial “accidentally” saying something classified or something that compromises sources and methods.
Great Gatsby Curve - a chart plotting the relationship between inequality and intergenerational social immobility in several countries around the world. The data suggests that an individual's potential for upward mobility is tethered to the degree of economic inequality they were born into -- the more economic inequality, the less upward mobility. The Great Gatsby Curve challenges the notion of the meritocracy or pulling oneself up by one's own bootstraps.
Green New Deal - a proposed package of United States legislation that aims to address climate change and economic inequality. The name refers to the New Deal, a set of social and economic reforms and public works projects undertaken by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in response to the Great Depression
Guerilla Intellectual - a term coined by Walter Rodney, a Guyanese political activist and academic to describe academics who challenge academia and society at large to examine its notions of normalcy and reconstruct its institutions to serve in a manner that subverts capitalism and caste systems. According to Rodney, guerilla intellectuals utilize their position to “subvert the intention of the capitalists to reproduce [the petite bourgeoisie] as members of their service class.”
Hallin's Spheres - theory of media objectivity posited by journalism historian Daniel C. Hallin in his book The Uncensored War (1986) to explain the coverage of the Vietnam war. Hallin divides the world of political discourse into three concentric spheres: consensus, legitimate controversy, and deviance.
Hatch Act - A law whose main provision prohibits civil service employees in the executive branch of the federal government, except the president and vice president, from engaging in some forms of political activity.
Headright - a legal grant of land to settlers. Headrights are most notable for their role in the expansion of the thirteen British colonies in North America; the Virginia Company of London gave headrights to settlers, and the Plymouth Company followed suit. (Source: Wikipedia).
Herd Immunity - A state that occurs when enough people become immune to a disease to make its spread unlikely. As a result, the entire community is protected, even those who are not themselves immune. Herd immunity is usually achieved through vaccination, but it can also occur through natural infection. Not to be confused with "Qualified Immunity" although both deserve attention. (Source: Harvard Health)
Heteronormativity - a bias in favor of opposite-sex relationships, and against same-sex relationships, that places heterosexual relationships as the default and the norm, thereby positioning homosexual relationships as abnormal. Examples: laws the discriminate against same-sex relationships, the underrepresentation of same-sex couples (Source: Wikipedia)
Of, designating, or based on a world view which regards gender roles as fixed to biological sex or gender and heterosexuality as the normal and preferred sexual orientation (Source: Oxford English Dictionary)
Homestead Act - enacted during the Civil War in 1862, provided that any adult citizen, or intended citizen, who had never borne arms against the U.S. government could claim 160 acres of surveyed government land.
Human Capital - the skills, knowledge, and experience possessed by an individual or population, viewed in terms of their value or cost to an organization or country.
Identity Politics - politics in which groups of people having a particular racial, religious, ethnic, social, or cultural identity tend to promote their own specific interests or concerns without regard to the interests or concerns of any larger political group. (Source: Webster) The LA Progressive's position on this is that all politics is identity politics.
Incrementalism - a method of working towards a goal by taking small logical steps using policy changes that are enacted over time in order to achieve larger broader based policy changes. Must be coupled with a larger overall strategy and ways to measure success in order to work.
Imperialism - Imperialism is a policy or ideology of extending rule over people and other countries in order to gain political and economic access, power, and control, often through employing hard power, especially military force, but also soft power. It is the belief that one country has the right to conquer another country and put that territory under its control and influence. U.S. expansion of its influence into the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Guam are examples.
Immiseration - economic impoverishment. Alternative spelling: Emiseration.
Inaugural - first
Incrementalist - one who advocates for change by degrees; gradualism.
Incumbent - A person who currently holds office. Incumbents who are seeking to run again generally have an advantage. Historically, in the United States, it is almost impossible to beat an incumbent.
Instant-Runoff Voting - also known as Ranked Choice Voting. Voters rank candidates by preference on their ballots. If a candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, he or she is declared the winner. If no candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, the candidate with the fewest first-preference votes is eliminated. First-preference votes cast for the failed candidate are eliminated, lifting the second-preference choices indicated on those ballots. A new tally is conducted to determine whether any candidate has won a majority of the adjusted votes. The process is repeated until a candidate wins an outright majority.
Insurrection - a violent uprising against an authority or government
Interest Convergence - Interest convergence is a theory coined by the late, law professor and spiritual godfather to the field of study known as Critical Race Theory. Interest convergence stipulates that black people achieve civil rights victories only when white and black interests converge. Only when the dominant class' interest is also enhanced or further secured will the subordinated class be allowed some degree of relief.
Intersectionality - a theoretical framework that comes from critical theory to describe the way that oppressive institutions like racism, sexism, ableism, xenophobia, classism, transphobia, etc are interlapping and cannot be separated from one another. The concept was originally coined by Kimberle Crenshaw:
“It [intersectionality] grew out of trying to conceptualize the way the law responded to issues where both race and gender discrimination were involved. What happened was like an accident, a collision. Intersectionality simply came from the idea that if you’re standing in the path of multiple forms of exclusion, you are likely to get hit by both. These [black] women are injured, but when the race ambulance and the gender ambulance arrive at the scene, they see these women of color lying in the intersection and they say, 'Well, we can’t figure out if this was just race or just sex discrimination. And unless they can show us which one it was, we can’t help them.'”
Source: Crenshaw, K. (1991). Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color. Stanford Law Review, 43(6), 1241-1299.
Islamic Republic - a form of government adopted by some Muslim states; although such a state is, in theory, a theocracy, it remains a republic, but its laws are required to be compatible with the laws of Islam.
Jubilee - The word "jubilee" comes from the book of Leviticus in the Hebrew Bible, known in Christianity as the Old Testament. ... The Jubilee year, the Bible explains, was to be a year of rest, including the forgiveness of all debts, and the liberation of slaves and servants to their native lands.
Judicial review - The power of judges to review laws and official Government Acts to determine if they are in keeping with the Constitution or basic rules of justice. If they are not, the judicial review can overturn them. The power of judicial review is not granted in the Constitution. Some argue this power grants greater leverage to the judicial branch than to the other two branches of government. (see Marbury v. Madison)
Judiciary - The judiciary is the collective term for the judges of a country’s courts. The role of the judiciary is to interpret laws and uphold justice by applying the law through the courts. In the United States, the Judiciary is one of the three branches of government.
Kitchen Cabinet - A group of unofficial advisors the president relies on instead of or to augment his/her official cabinet.
Kleptocracy - government by those who seek chiefly status and personal gain at the expense of the governed
Lame Duck - An elected representative, usually a leader, who is coming close to the end of their term of office, and who is regarded as being less powerful due to the limited time they have left to serve. The term applies particularly to those who cannot or do not want to be re-elected.
Left, the - Organizations or political parties that favor social justice and freedom and the equitable distribution of resources. Generally, focus on workers’ rights, social responsibility, people over profit.
Leftie - A slang term for a person who believes in the values of liberalism and socialism (sometimes used as a pejorative).
Legislature – The branch of government that makes laws. At the federal level, in the United States, this branch consists of 100 Senators and 438 Congressional Representatives.
LGBT(Q)(I)(A) - LGBT (or LGBTQ, or LGBTQIA, etc.) is an acronym that attempts to cover the spectrum of people with marginalized identities of gender and sexuality. Although many argue over what the letters stand for and which should be included, people generally agree that it stands for "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer/Questioning, Intersex, and Asexual." For a more in depth discussion of this acronym and what each of the included terms means, see LGBTQIA: A Beginner's Guide to the Great Alphabet Soup of Queer Identity. Some people have switched to using the term "queer" as an umbrella term to cover the spectrum of gender and sexuality instead of continuing to add letters onto the acronym.
Liberal - a political and moral philosophy based on liberty, consent of the governed and equality before the law. Is generally considered different from “progressive” in that liberals do not oppose capitalism.
Libertarian – a political philosophy that seeks to maximize freedom from governmental intrusion. Autonomy, freedom of choice, voluntary association and individual judgement are prioritized. Libertarians share a skepticism of authority and state power.
Magical Negro - In the cinema of the United States, the Magical Negro is a supporting stock character who comes to the aid of white protagonists. Magical Negro characters, often possess special insight, exceptional wisdom or mystical powers and have long been a tradition in American fiction. Many attribute the term to American filmmaker Spike Lee who used it pejoratively claiming that a "magical black character" who goes around selflessly helping white people is a throwback to stereotypes such as the "Sambo" or "noble savage". (Source: Wikipedia)
Manifest Destiny - a 19th-century racist doctrine or belief widely held by white expansionists that justified the taking of First Peoples land due to American exceptionalism. They believed the expansion of the US throughout the American continents was both justified and inevitable.
Maoism - the theory and practice of Marxism-Leninism developed in China by Mao Zedong (Mao Tse-tung), which states that a continuous revolution is necessary if the leaders of a communist state are to keep in touch with the people.
Marginalization - When a member of a racial, ethnic, religious, cultural or any social group is relegated to an unimportant or powerless position within a society or group. Being marginalized requires historical and ongoing oppression of the identity in question. For example, a white person may feel out of place in a room of people of color, but because of the social power and privilege that white people hold in U.S. society today and historically, a white person is not marginalized because of their race.
Marxism - the political, economic and social principles espoused by 19th century economist Karl Marx; he viewed the struggle of workers as a progression of historical forces that would proceed from a class struggle of the proletariat (workers) exploited by capitalists (business owners), to a socialist "dictatorship of the proletariat," to, finally, a classless society -- Communism.
Marxism-Leninism - an expanded form of communism developed by Vladimir Lenin from doctrines of Karl Marx; Lenin saw imperialism as the final stage of capitalism and shifted the focus of workers' struggle from developed to underdeveloped countries.
Maximalism - opposite of incrementalism
Maximalist - a person who holds extreme views and is not prepared to compromise. Some believe that demanding only maximalist ends will get you nothing. Opposite of incrementalist.
Meritocracy – a government or the holding of power by people selected based on their ability.
Microagression - a comment or action that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group -- most often this is an expression of covert anti-blackness.
Microassault - explicit racial derogations characterized primarily by a violent verbal or nonverbal attack meant to hurt the intended victim through name-calling, avoidant behavior or purposeful discriminatory actions. (Ex. deliberately attending to a white patron before a person of color; using racial epithets.) (Usually occur when white people “lose control” or when they feel relatively safe to engage in a microassault.)
Microinsult - behavioral/verbal remarks or comments that convey rudeness, insensitivity and demean a person’s racial heritage or identity, or other marginalized identities. (Ex. white teacher fails to acknowledge person of color in the classroom; white employer acts distracted when talking with an employee of color, avoiding eye contact or turning away; when an employee of color is asked “how did you get your job?”; when a white employer tells a prospective candidate of color “I believe the most qualified person should get the job, regardless of race”).
Microinvalidation - are verbal comments or behaviors that exclude, negate, or nullify the psychological thoughts, feelings, or experiential reality of a person with a marginalized identity. (Ex. when a person of color is told “I don’t see color”; when Asian Americans are complimented for speaking good English or are asked where they were born or “really” from; when people of color are told they are being “oversensitive” or “petty” for perceiving and confronting microaggressions, instances of racism).
Misogyny - Hatred or entrenched prejudice against women. Even if something does not seem overtly hateful, it may be misogynistic if it implies that women have different capabilities, values, or purposes in life because of being women.
Mobilizing - Rallying the troops to do an action.
Model Minority Myth - The “model minority” refers to some ethnic, racial or religious minority groups who are perceived to have achieved more success than the general population. (This success can be measured in education attainment, income, family stability, fitting the values of the dominant culture, etc.) Why is the Model Minority Myth dangerous? First, it overgeneralizes an entire group of people by assigned character traits to all the members of that group. Secondly, it denies the realities of oppression and marginalization that minority groups face by pointing to limited successes.
Example: Asian Americans are commonly called a “model minority” - When a peer, professor or counselor tells an Asian American student that they must be good at math/and or science, they are acting on the Model Minority Myth.
Moderate – also referred to as centrist. Voters and politicians who describe themselves as centrist or moderate often mean that they advocate neither left-wing nor right-wing ideologies. Moderates do not actually embrace an ideology – instead, they are non-ideologues. Some say that moderates go any way the wind blows to highlight the fact that they do not take a strong stand.
Monarchy - a government in which the supreme power is vested in the hands of a monarch who reigns over a state or territory, usually for life and by hereditary right; the monarch may be either a sole absolute ruler or a sovereign - such as a king, queen or prince - with constitutionally limited authority.
Muckraker – one who searches for and exposes real or alleged corruption, scandal, or the like, especially in politics.
Nationalism - a movement that seeks to promote and preserve a single national identity. In the United States and other western nations, nationalism is most often associated with white nationalism, the belief that white people are superior.
Nationalist - a person who strongly identifies with their own nation and vigorously supports its interests, especially to the exclusion or detriment of the interests of other nations. In more recent times, the term has also been used to characterize a xenophobe or racist.
Nativism - the political policy of promoting or protecting the interests of native or indigenous inhabitants over those of immigrants, including the support of immigration-restriction measures. (Source: Wikipedia)
Neocolonialism - Neocolonialism is the practice of using economic imperialism, globalization, cultural imperialism and conditional aid to influence a developing country instead of the previous colonial methods of direct military control or indirect political control. (Source: Wikipedia)
Neoconservative - a political movement born in the United States during the 1960s among liberal hawks who became disenchanted with the increasingly pacifist foreign policy of the Democratic Party, and the growing New Left and counterculture, in particular the Vietnam protests. Some also began to question their liberal beliefs regarding domestic policies such as the Great Society.
Neoconservatives typically advocate the promotion of democracy and interventionism in international affairs, including peace through strength (by means of military force), and are known for espousing disdain for communism.
Neofascist - a post-World War II ideology that includes significant elements of fascism. Neofascism usually includes ultranationalism, racial supremacy, populism, authoritarianism, nativism, xenophobia and anti-immigration sentiment as well as opposition to liberal democracy, parliamentarianism, liberalism, Marxism, capitalism communism, and socialism. (Source: Wikipedia)
Neoliberal – Those who embrace the practice that prioritizes economic growth, free market trade, deregulation of financial markets, privatization, individualization and profit margins over social concerns – this term describes a conservative and should not be confused with the term “liberal”. Neoliberalism is the opening of nations’ economies to penetration by large corporations and banks in the name of “free markets.”
New Deal - a series of programs, public work projects, financial reforms, and regulations enacted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the United States between 1933 and 1939 in response to needs for relief, reform, and recovery following the 1929 stock market crash and the ensuing Great Depression.
NIMBY - An acronym for "Not In My Backyard". A term used when a person who objects to the siting of something perceived as unpleasant or hazardous in the area where they live, especially while raising no such objections to similar developments elsewhere. The opposite of YIMBY, "Yes In My Backyard".
Non-Partisan - Not supporting, affiliated with, belonging to, or controlled by a political party
Nuclear Regulatory Commission - The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is an independent agency of the United States government tasked with protecting public health and safety related to nuclear energy.
Occam's Razor - the simplest explanation is usually the right one
Oligarchy - a government in which control is exercised by a small group of individuals whose authority generally is based on wealth or power.
Omnibus Bill - An omnibus bill is a proposed law that covers a number of diverse or unrelated topics. Omnibus is derived from Latin and means "for everything". An omnibus bill is a single document that is accepted in a single vote by a legislature but packages together several measures into one or combines diverse subjects.
Opposition Research - the practice of collecting information on a political opponent or other adversary that can be used to discredit or otherwise weaken them. Also known as "Oppo Research."
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development - OEDC is an intergovernmental economic organization with 37 member countries, founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade.
Organizing - The act of uniting people to achieve something that can only be achieved with collective democratic power generally for a shared self-interest. Organizing as it relates to politics involves developing leaders, facilitating coalitions and assisting in the development of campaigns. Should not be confused with mobilizing.
Originalism - A term used to describe a method of interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. Critics of modern originalism argue that it is rooted in conservative resistance to the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision, as it was used by proponents of segregation to argue in opposition to civil rights legislation during the 1960s.
Othering - A verb used to characterize the flip side of belonging. Treating someone as an outsider. Treating someone as less than.
Overton Window - a range of political policies that are viewed as acceptable to the dominant culture. Another term used is the window of discourse. The term is named after Joseph P. Overton, who stated that an idea's political viability depends mainly on whether it falls within this range. According to Overton, the window frames the range of policies that a politician can recommend without appearing too extreme.
Pacifism - A belief and adherence to the principal that violence, especially war, must be avoided when resolving disputes.
Palmer Raids - a series of raids conducted in November 1919 and January 1920 by the United States Department of Justice under the administration of President Woodrow Wilson to capture and arrest suspected socialists, especially anarchists and communists, and deport them from the United States. (Source: Wikipedia)
Pansexual or Omnisexual - Someone who is attracted to people of multiple or all genders and/or sexuality romantically, sexually and emotionally.
Parliamentarianism - Political philosophy that embraces parliamentary democracy.
Parliamentary Democracy - a political system in which the legislature (parliament) selects the government - a prime minister, premier or chancellor along with the cabinet ministers - according to party strength as expressed in elections; by this system, the government acquires a dual responsibility: to the people as well as to the parliament.
Parliamentary Government (Cabinet-Parliamentary government) - a government in which members of an executive branch (the cabinet and its leader - a prime minister, premier or chancellor) are nominated to their positions by a legislature or parliament, and are directly responsible to it; this type of government can be dissolved at will by the parliament (legislature) by means of a no-confidence vote or the leader of the cabinet may dissolve the parliament if it can no longer function.
Parliamentary Monarchy - a state headed by a monarch who is not actively involved in policy formation or implementation (i.e., the exercise of sovereign powers by a monarch in a ceremonial capacity); true governmental leadership is carried out by a cabinet and its head - a prime minister, premier or chancellor - who are drawn from a legislature (parliament).
Patriarchy - A system that gives power and privilege to men at the expense of women and gender variant folks.
Personal Gender Pronoun - When we we use pronouns like "she" or "he" to identify a person, we might be making an assumption about that person's gender that differs from their gender identity. It is important to ask for gender pronouns before making assumptions.
Note that while some people use the term "preferred gender pronoun" rather than "personal gender pronoun," many have moved away from this language, as it implies that gender identity is a preference. For this reason, this dictionary uses "personal" rather than "preferred."
Petit Bourgeois - see Petite Bourgeoisie
Petite Bourgeoisie - a French term (derogatory) referring to social "climbers" from the middle and lower middle class whose politico-economic ideological stance mirrors that of the haute ("high") bourgeoisie, with which the petite bourgeoisie seeks to identify itself and whose bourgeois morality it strives to imitate. (Source: Wikipedia)
Petty Boujwazee - see Petite Bourgeoisie
Plausible Deniability - The position a member of the executive or some person in charge of an organization attempts to maintain, by keeping a distance from the control of certain operations or practices such that, if an operation ‘goes south’ and attracts unfavorable publicity, there is no evidence linking him or her to the chain of command.
Plebiscite - the direct vote of all the members of an electorate on an important public question such as a change in the constitution.
Plutocracy – a system of government ruled by the wealthy.
Populist - A term coined in the early 1890s and used by The People's Party a labor oriented party that was an outgrowth of a rank-and-file uprising against the two-party system and the inequalities they believed they wrought.
Populism - relating to or characteristic of a political approach that strives to appeal to the masses. The term is also used to refer to an appeal to the uninformed, often the unlearned masses, the angry mob, the ignorant, the xenophobe, the racist and others that make political decisions based on emotion vs those who base their decisions on data, research, analysis and reason.
Pork Barrel Spending - Politicians arranging big spending government contracts in their own districts to enhance their reputation with their constituents. An analogy to earlier times when indentured workers were fed from the salted pork barrel and the quickest there grabbed the biggest piece.
Power Elite - a small minority, consisting of members of the economic elite and policy-planning networks, holds the most power—and that this power is independent of democratic elections.
Precarity - the state of having insecure employment or income.
Predatory Inclusion - A term coined by Dr. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor that characterizes what Black people experience(d) after they were no longer legally excluded from participating in real estate, banking and federal programs. Taylor asserts that new policies were still unfair because the decades-long exclusion shaped the terms upon which they were included -- for example the FHA goes from exclusion to exposing African Americans to new forms of real estate exploitation. Black people had to pay higher interest rates, they had to pay more fees, they were relegated to isolated and neglected housing. Black people’s housing wasn’t even an asset—it was a debt burden that never accrued equity at the same rate as for white people.
Predatory Lending - unscrupulous actions carried out by a lender to entice, induce and assist a borrower into taking a loan that carries high fees, a high-interest rate, strips the borrower of equity, or places the borrower in a lower credit-rated loan to the benefit of the lender.
Pragmatism - A non-ideological approach to political issues. Thinking of or dealing with problems in a practical way, rather than by using theory or abstract principles.
Presidential - a system of government, such as in the United States, where the executive branch exists separately from the judicial and legislative branches with each possessing their own separate power.
Prime Minister - A prime minister is not the head of state nor are they a monarch, rather they are the head of government, serving typically under a monarch in a hybrid of aristocratic and democratic government forms or a president in a republican form of government.
Prison Based Gerrymandering - a practice whereby states, and local governments count incarcerated persons as residents of the areas where they are incarcerated when election district lines are drawn. This practice inflates the population count of districts where prisons and jails are located. In almost all jurisdictions the incarcerated cannot vote but are counted. Some have called it the modern-day Three-Fifths Compromise. (see Three-Fifths Compromise).
Privilege - Refers to unearned benefits, advantages, or rights for belonging to the perceived “normal” or “natural” state of the “mainstream” and/or dominant culture. Privilege allows for active, persistent exclusion and the devaluation of those who are “othered” or “marginalized.” “Privilege is not [only] about race or gender, but … it is a series of interrelated hierarchies and power dynamics that touch all facets of social life: race, class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, education, gender identity, age, physical ability, passing, etc.” (source - https://mediasmarts.ca/diversity-media/privilege-media/forms-privilege)
There are several elements to privilege:
- “[T]he characteristics of the privileged group define the societal norm.” For example, an individual judged to succeed or fail depending on how similar their characteristics are to those who hold the privilege (the norm).
- “Members of the privileged group gain greatly by their affiliation with the dominant side of the power system... [therefore] achievements by members of the privileged group are viewed as the result of individual effort, rather than privilege.”
- “Members of privileged groups can opt out of struggles against oppression if they choose. Often this privilege may be exercised by silence.”
- “The holder of privilege may enjoy deference, special knowledge, or a higher comfort level to guide societal interaction.”
- “Privilege is not visible to its holder; it is merely there, a part of the world, a way of life, simply the way things are” (Wildman & Davis, 1997, p. 315-316).
Privileged Group - The group that is positively valued, considered to be superior, independent, or “normal” and has unearned access to social and economical power.
Progressive – a political philosophy in support of social reform. It is based on the idea of progress in which advancements in science, technology, economic development and social organization are vital to the improvement of the human condition. Progressives typically oppose capitalism and seek to implement an equitable, ecologically sustainable alternative that meets the essential needs of all people.
Progressive Citizens of America - was a social-democratic and democratic socialist American political organization formed in December 1946 that advocated progressive policies, which worked with the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) and allegedly the Communist Party USA (CPUSA), as a precursor to the 1948 incarnation of the Progressive Party. It also led to formation of an counter group called Americans for Democratic Action (ADA), formed in January 1947 with progressive domestic views but anti-communist and interventionist foreign policy views, that split liberals and nearly cost Harry S. Truman the 1948 US Presidential Election. (Source: Wikipedia)
Progressive Democrats of America - a progressive political organization and grassroots political action committee operating primarily within the Democratic Party of the United States. The group has established chapters in 32 states and territories. (Source: Wikipedia)
Proportional Ranked Choice Voting - see ranked choice voting
Public Policy - a system of laws, regulatory measures, courses of action, and funding priorities concerning a given topic promulgated by a governmental entity or its representatives. The principles, often unwritten, on which social laws are based.
Public Sector - the part of an economy that is controlled by the government.
QAnon - QAnon is a far-right conspiracy theory. It originated during Donald Trump's presidential campaign based on the allegation that a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles was running a global child sex-trafficking ring and plotting against Donald Trump, who they believed was battling against the cabal. (Source: Wikipedia)
Qualified Immunity - a judicially created doctrine that shields government officials from being held personally liable for constitutional violations—like the right to be free from excessive police force—for money damages under federal law so long as the officials did not violate “clearly established” law. The doctrine was designed to protect all but the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law. Law enforcement officers are entitled to qualified immunity.
Racebender - coined as a term of protest in 2009 in response to the casting decisions for the live-action film adaptation of the television series Avatar: The Last Airbender. The starring roles of the show (Aang, Katara, and Sokka) were intended to be of Asian and Inuit descent, but were cast as White European actors in the film. The term "racebender" was a play on the word in the title "Airbender"
Racial Profiling - the act of suspecting, targeting or discriminating against a person on the basis of their ethnicity, religion or nationality, rather than on individual suspicion or available evidence. (source - wikipedia)
Racialization - a complex and, at times, contradictory term that in one regard is defined as, "a political process of ascribing ethnic or racial identities to a relationship, social practice, or group that did not identify itself as such" (Source: Wikipedia) and also "The act of being “raced” or seen as someone belonging to a particular race". The term grew out of an awareness that white people are generally not "raced". In other words, white people are not racially seen and racially named, they function as a human norm while all others are categorized and ascribed to a race. https://www.aclrc.com/racialization
Radical Republicans - a faction within the Republican Party of the United States from around 1854 (before the American Civil War) until the end of Reconstruction in 1877. They called themselves "Radicals," because their goal was immediate, complete, permanent eradication of slavery, without compromise. They were opposed during the War by the moderate Republicans (led by United States President Abraham Lincoln), and by the pro-slavery and anti-Reconstruction Democratic Party as well as liberals in the Northern United States during Reconstruction. Radicals led efforts after the war to establish civil rights for former slaves and fully implement emancipation. Radicals pushed to make the Fourteenth Amendment a reality. They disfavored allowing ex-Confederate officers to retake political power in the South, and emphasized equality, civil rights and voting rights for the "freedmen," i.e. people who had been enslaved by state slavery laws within the United States. The leader of the Radical Republicans were Senator John C. Frémont (California), Senator Charles Sumner (Massachusetts) and Representative Thaddeus Stevens (Pennsylvania).
Ranked Choice Voting - any election voting system in which voters use a ranked (or preferential) ballot to rank choices in a sequence on the ordinal scale: 1st, 2nd, 3rd. Also referred to as Instant Run-Off Voting.
Red Flag Laws - In the United States, a red flag law is a gun control law that permits police to petition a state court to order the temporary removal of firearms from a person who they believe may present a danger to others or themselves. (Source: Wikipedia)
Reparations - broadly understood as compensation given for a governmental abuse or injury. The colloquial meaning of reparations has changed substantively over the last century. In the early 1900s, reparations were interstate exchanges (see war reparations): punitive mechanisms determined by treaty and paid by the surrendering side of conflict, such as the World War I reparations paid by Germany and its allies. Now, reparations are understood as not just war damages but compensation and other measures provided to victims of severe human rights violations by the parties responsible. The right of the victim of an injury to receive reparations and the duty of the part responsible to provide them has been secured by the United Nations.
Republic - a representative democracy in which the people's elected representatives, not the people themselves, vote on legislation.
Respectability Politics - a belief that conforming to socially accepted, often white endorsed, or mainstream standards of appearance and behavior will protect a member of a marginalized or minority group from being discriminated against or otherwise unjustly treated. Often espoused by members of the marginalized group. For example, when Bill Cosby publicly urged his fellow African Americans to stop blaming racism for their woes and then suggested that single mothers, sagging pants and names like Shaniqua were the problem, he was engaging in respectability politics. Black respectability politics perpetuates the fiction of a meritocracy and positions Black people's actions as the cause for their oppression.
Restorative Justice - a process where all stakeholders affected by an injustice have an opportunity to discuss how they have been affected by the injustice and to decide what should be done to repair the harm. Restorative justice is founded on an alternative theory to the traditional methods of justice, which often focus on retribution.
Right, the - A term used to describe political parties and other groups who support traditional values, the free market and who oppose government interference.
Right Wing - A section of a political party, organization or a system that tends to be conservative.
RINO - An acronym that stands for Republican in Name Only
Russiagate - The interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election by Russian funded hackers and Russian government actors.
Safe Seat - A seat in a constituency that is likely to go to a candidate because of the amount of support given to the candidate or the political party they represent. When there is little likelihood a party or a candidate, usually an incumbent, will lose a particular election.
Sedition - conduct, such as speech and organizing, that tends toward rebellion against the established order. Sedition often includes subversion of a constitution and incitement of discontent toward, or rebellion against, established authority.
Settler Colonialism - a form of colonialism that seeks to replace the original population of the colonized territory with a new society of settlers. As with all forms of colonialism, it is based on exogenous domination, typically organized or supported by an imperial authority. (Source: Wikipedia)
Share Buybacks - the repurchasing of shares of stock by the company that issued them. Also referred to as Stock Buybacks, Corporate Buybacks or Share Repurchase. The re-acquisition by a company of its own stock. This does not create value. This allows companies to reinvest in themselves by reducing the number of outstanding shares on the market.
Smith Act - Formerly known as The Alien Registration Act, 76th United States Congress, 3d session, ch. 439, 54 Stat. 670, 18 U.S.C. § 2385 is a United States federal statute that was enacted on June 28, 1940. It set criminal penalties for advocating the overthrow of the U.S. government by force or violence, and required all non-citizen adult residents to register with the federal government.
Approximately 215 people were indicted under the legislation, including alleged communists, anarchists, and fascists. Prosecutions under the Smith Act continued until a series of U.S. Supreme Court decisions in 1957 reversed a number of convictions under the Act as being unconstitutional. The law has been amended several times.
Social Capital - the networks of relationships among people who live, work, and go to school together. Social capital theory contends that social relationships are resources that can lead to the development and accumulation of other benefits.
Socialism - a government in which the means of planning, producing and distributing goods is controlled by a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by and for the community as a whole.
Socially Conservative - is the belief that society is built upon a fragile network of relationships which need to be upheld through duty, traditional values and established institutions. This can include moral issues. Social conservatism is generally skeptical of social change, and believes in maintaining the status quo concerning social issues such as family life, sexual relations, and patriotism.
Stock Buybacks - the repurchasing of shares of stock by the company that issued them. Also referred to as Share Buybacks, Corporate Buybacks or Share Repurchase. The re-acquisition by a company of its own stock. This does not create value. This allows companies to reinvest in themselves by reducing the number of outstanding shares on the market.
Stop-Loss Order - An involuntary extension of a currently-serving military member's term of active service in the armed forces. When a stop-loss order is enforced, the service member's Estimated Time in Service date (ETS) is extended beyond the original date specified in the service member's legally binding commitment to the military.
Suffrage – the right to vote. Franchise.
Sultanate - like a monarchy, a government in which the supreme power is in the hands of a sultan (the head of a Muslim state); the sultan may be an absolute ruler or a sovereign with constitutionally limited authority.
Super Delegate – an unpledged delegate to the Democratic National Convention who is seated automatically and chooses for themselves for whom they vote. These Democratic Party superdelegates (who make up slightly under 15% of all convention delegates) include party leaders and elected officials (PLEOs). (see delegate).
Supply Chain - the steps it takes in business to get the product or service from its original state to the customer.
Swing Seat – districts that have frequently switched partisan control and seen close races. The opposite of a safe seat.
Swing State - any state that could reasonably be won by either the Democratic or Republican presidential candidate by a swing in votes. These states are usually targeted by both major-party campaigns, especially in competitive elections
Swing Voter – a voter who may not be affiliated with a particular political party (Independent) or who will vote across party lines. In American politics, many centrists, liberal Republicans, and conservative Democrats are considered "swing voters" since their voting patterns cannot be predicted with certainty.
Sycophant – a person who acts obsequiously toward someone important in order to curry favor or gain an advantage, in other words, someone who is excessively obedient or attentive, a servile self-seeking flatterer. A brown noser. A boot licker. An ass kisser.
Talking Head - a commentator or reporter on television who addresses the camera and is viewed in close-up.
Term Limit - also referred to as rotation in office, restricts the number of terms of office an officeholder may hold. For example, according to the 22nd Amendment, the President of the United States can only serve two four-year terms.
Theocracy - a form of government in which a Deity is recognized as the supreme civil ruler, the Deity's laws are interpreted by ecclesiastical authorities (bishops, mullahs, etc.), a government subject to religious authority.
Think Tank - a body of experts providing advice and ideas on specific political or economic problems.
Three-Fifths Compromise - a compromise reached among state delegates during the 1787 United States Constitutional Convention, where slaves would be counted as 3/5ths of a person to determine a state's total population. This benefited slave holding states for legislative representation and taxing purposes because this population number would then be used to determine the number of seats that the state would have in the U.S. House of Representatives for the next ten years. The compromise gave Southern states a third more seats in Congress and a third more electoral votes than if slaves had been ignored, but fewer than if slaves and free people had been counted equally.
TINA - An acronym for "There Is No Alternative" where a less-than-ideal policy is implemented under the guise of choosing the least of bad choices. Often attributed to neoliberalism.
Totalitarian - a government that seeks to subordinate the individual to the state by controlling not only all political and economic matters, but also the attitudes, values and beliefs of its population.
TPP - see Trans-Pacific Partnership
Trans-Pacific Partnership - A proposed trade agreement between 12 Pacific Rim economies, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and the United States. The proposal was signed on 4 February 2016 but not ratified. (Source: Wikipedia)
Transitional Justice - Transitional justice consists of judicial and non-judicial measures implemented in order to redress legacies of human rights abuses. Such measures "include criminal prosecutions, truth commissions, reparations programs, and various kinds of institutional reforms"
Trigger Warning - Trigger warnings are common in both written and verbal discussions. They are meant to reduce harm to people who have extremely strong emotional responses or post-traumatic flashbacks to certain subjects. A response like a flashback is called “being triggered.” Some subjects that are typically prefaced by trigger warnings include: graphic or in-depth descriptions of sexual assault, abuse, self-harming behaviors, suicide, eating disorders, body shaming, and other traumatic subjects. It’s a good idea to discuss this at the beginning of any group meeting that might cover these topics.
Twitter Storm - a story that sparks a significant volume of messages on Twitter often leading to a trend
Usury - Interest charged at unreasonably high rates
Vassal States - A vassal state is any state that has a mutual obligation to a superior state or empire, in a status similar to that of a vassal in the feudal system in medieval Europe. (Source: Wikipedia)
Virtue Signaling - A pejorative term for the expression of a moral viewpoint with the intent of communicating good character. The practice of publicly expressing opinions or sentiments intended to demonstrate one's good character or moral correctness of one's position on a particular issue. (Source: Wikipedia, Google)
Venture Capitalist - is a private equity investor that provides capital to companies exhibiting high growth potential in exchange for an equity stake. This could be funding startup ventures or supporting small companies that wish to expand but do not have access to equities markets.
Veto – The power of the President to refuse to approve a bill or joint resolution and thus prevent its enactment into law is the veto. A regular veto occurs when the President returns the legislation to the house in which it originated, usually with a message explaining the rationale for the rejection of the bill.
Vulture Capitalist - is a type of venture capitalist who looks for opportunities to make money by buying poor or distressed firms. They are also known for taking control over someone else's innovations and, as a result, the money that person would have acquired from those innovations. The term is slang for someone who is an aggressive venture capitalist, and as such is believed to be predatory in their nature. Just like the bird they are named after, vulture capitalists will wait until they see the right opportunity and swoop in at the last minute, taking advantage of a situation with the lowest possible price.
Wage Slavery - a term describing a situation in which a person's livelihood depends on wages or a salary, especially when the dependence is total and immediate not unlike most contemporary Americans. Former slave Frederick Douglass said working for wages was "only a little less galling and crushing in its effects than chattel slavery, and that this slavery of wages must go down with the other". Douglass based this assessment on the unequal bargaining power between the wage earner and the boss. In 1869, The New York Times described the system of wage labor as "a system of slavery as absolute if not as degrading as that which lately prevailed at the South". The industrial revolution led to increased wage labor. Before that, most people were self employed either on family owned farms or other family owned businesses.
War Chest – a sum of money used for conducting a campaign.
War Economy – Since WWII, the U.S. has engaged in a post-war arms race with a defense budget that is larger than the next ten countries combined. Even when during peacetime, the United States retains the character of a war economy.
War Powers Act - An Act to expedite the prosecution of the war effort. An emergency law that increased Federal power during World War II. The act was signed by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and put into law on December 18, 1941. (Source: Wikipedia)
Weathering - a term used to characterize the early health deterioration of Black people in the United States believed to be caused by repeated exposure and adaptation to stressors associated with racism both covert and overt. The weathering hypothesis posits that Blacks experience early health deterioration as a consequence of the cumulative impact of repeated experience with social or economic adversity and political marginalization.
Whip – a person in a political party whose job is to make sure the party's members vote with the party. This happens in a legislature. Whips are a party's "enforcers", who talk to each member of the party to make sure that they vote according to the official party policy.
Whistleblower – a person who informs on a person or organization engaged in an illicit activity. Learn more about whistleblower's here.
White Supremacy - A historically based, institutionally perpetuated system of exploitation and oppression of continents, nations and people of color by white people, the U.S., and nations of the European continent, for the purposes of maintaining and defending a system of wealth, power and privilege.
Whitewashing - A form of racebending (see "Racebender")
Winner-Take-All - any voting system that is not proportional. It cancels the votes of the losing candidate. An electoral system in which a single political party or group can elect every office within a given district or jurisdiction. Winner-take-all is contrasted with proportional representation, in which more than one political party or group can elect offices in proportion to their voting power.
Xenophobe - a person having a dislike of or prejudice against people from other countries.
YIMBY - An acronym for "Yes In My Backyard". A term used when a person supports new development in the area where they live, typically in order to increase the availability of housing. The opposite of NIMBY, "Not In My Backyard".