CED — A to Z


agendan., sinister list of policies that an opponent will inflict upon an unsuspecting America. Ex: The candidate had plans but his opponent had… an agenda!

The American Dreamn., 1. “a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage” (archaic); 2. being left alone in your garage with your chicken, your car, and your pot. Ex: The candidate spoke about restoring the American Dream and then made our dreams come true when he shut up and left. 

anonymous donor, n., campaign contributor who doesn’t want the corruption of democracy traced to his doorstep or to his corporate boards. Ex: The anonymous donor’s name graces buildings at his alma mater but dare not speak its name at the Restore our Fortunes SuperPAC.

apologizing for America, v., 1. refusing to shout that America is the greatest nation on earth; 2. admitting that a nation with the world’s largest economy and history’s largest military might, every now and then, make a mistake. Ex: The candidate assured his audience that he will never “apologize for America,” not even if 37 guests at an Afghan wedding are killed by drones.

“Are You Better Off Now Than You Were Four Years Ago?n., challenger’s question designed to turn a multi-issue political campaign into a self-help seminar.

assaulting our libertiesv., passing laws, promoting the general welfare, ending the retreat to the 19th century; Ex: The candidate denounced the president for “recklessly assaulting our liberties” but did not give specifics for some reason.

attack adn., abrasive campaign commercial which turns democracy into a hamburger, truth into hash browns, and your vote into a Happy Meal; Ex:  During the Michigan GOP primary, 45 people were wounded by attack ads; three remain in critical condition.

Ayn Rand, n., 1. author whose political tracts disguised as novels pass as evidence of erudition in certain circles; 2. author whose political tracts disguised as novels are the only novels certain circles have read since high school.


Bain Capitaln., venture capital firm whose buying and selling of other companies bears as much relationship to the Oval Office job as a laptop does to a horse. See: Solyndra.

balancing the budgetv., promise to voters who prefer a government of me, by me, for me, but without taxes on me.  Syn: fiction.

Barack Obaman., 1. centrist politician whose compromise and commitment have made him a decent president; 2. charismatic politician whose refusal to totally change America smacks of ineptitude and betrayal; 3. ultra-radical Socialist/Maoist bent on destroying America in revenge for his Muslim faith and African father. See: Barack Hussein Obama;

battleground staten., state whose political indecision causes it to suffer a blitz of attack ads, a scorched earth invasion of advance men, and repeated visits by candidates of both parties.

The Beltwayn., geographical area surrounding Washington D.C. defined by strip malls, 2-hour commutes, and its vast ideological detachment from the strip malls and 2-hour commutes of the Real America. Ex: The candidate said his opponent’s ideas would never play “outside the Beltway,” but then he went there.

bipartisanadj., candidate’s promise to work with both parties as they try to destroy each other and as one party, if he’s a Democrat, tries to destroy him. Ex: “I will be a bi-partisan president,” the candidate said as he donned his flak jacket. 

bi-partisan commissionn., 1. panel of moderates from both parties that produces a report neither party will endorse; 2. panel of extremists from both parties that ends by  hurling chairs. Ex: The bi-partisan commission filed its report.

birthern., person who believes a man would forge his birth certificate, that the Democratic Party would fail to investigate, and the media would go along, all in order to run a black Muslim for president of the United States; 2. the embodiment of fear’s triumph over reason.

bleeding heartn., a heart condition, fatal to politicians, characterized by genuine compassion and empathy. See: “compassionate conservative” but don’t fall for it.

Bridge to Nowheren., pork barrel government-funded bridge often cited to discredit Social Security, Medicare, and other bridges that save millions from drowning.

broccoli, n., metaphor for health care reform that causes garden-variety ignorance. Ex: During Supreme Court hearings on Obamacare, when Justice Scalia wondered whether the government could require citizens to buy broccoli, third graders across America howled with laughter.

brokered conventionn., what occurs when primary voters can’t make up their minds which of two evils is the lesser.

bureaucracyn., government agencies that enrage citizens who prefer to be enraged by corporations.


campaign ethics, n., the notion that candidates should behave according to certain rules (archaic) Ex: Some in the audience had a vague recognition of the term ‘campaign ethics’ but memories of Karl Rove ended the conversation. 

campaign slogann., brief statement of campaign goals simplified to reach the growing number of Americans puzzled by full sentences. Ex: Romney’s campaign slogan “Believe in America” sets his supporters apart from Obama’s, who believe in China or Al-Qaeda, while Obama’s ‘Forward’ contrasts with Romney who wants to drive America in neutral or reverse.

capital gainsn., 1. earnings on investments taxed in the lowest IRS bracket (15%); 2. for the 99 percent, a dream, for the 1 percent, payday. Ex: “Best investment I ever made?” said the billionaire as he paid his capital gains tax.  ”Why, buying Congress, of course.”

changen. 1. loose coins left over from a purchase; 2. loose ideas left over from a dream.

classn., wealth-based distinction that divides every country in the world except the United States.  Ex: “There are no classes in America. . . We don’t put people in classes.”   — Rick Santorum

class warfare, n. 1. charge leveled by the ultra-rich to defuse any talk of taxes; 2. the perpetuation of inequality by other means.

climate change, n., tepid term for global warming that turns down the heat on gas guzzling Americans and cools all talk of solutions. Ex: Relax, Tommy —  those melting  icecaps, scorching summers, and rising oceans are just climate change, and change is good!

cluelessadj. having recently watched FOXNews.

conservativen., an old liberal with a new mortgage.

conservative credentialsn., hard-line positions on key issues – abortion, immigration, gun control – that a GOP candidate polishes during the primaries but buries when the election approaches. See: tacking to the center and ask yourself how long people are going to fall for this.

convention, n., raucous election-year gathering that confirms the obvious, restates the given, nominates the nominee, and waves the flag, all before a dwindling prime-time audience and a clownlike convention hall.

corporationn. 1. association of individuals, protected by law, free of responsibility for group actions; 2. association of individuals, protected by the Supreme Court, free of campaign spending laws. Syn: people.

cradle to grave, n., mocking a government’s concern about its citizens.  Ex: The candidate denounced “cradle to grave” Socialism but didn’t tell us where the cradle is the grave for fewer infants and the grave is farther in the future.

crony capitalism, n., 1. rich candidate’s charge that another rich candidate favors the rich. 2. charge leveled by capitalists whose cronies aren’t doing their jobs. Ex: Speaking to his capitalist cronies at the $50,000 a plate dinner, the candidate accused his opponent of “crony capitalism.”

cynicaladj. having recently watched MSNBC.


dead heatn., election whose results are too close to call because the electorate is split, the undecideds are watching “American Idol,” and the 50 percent who could make a difference can’t be bothered to vote.

Dead on Arrival, adj, Congressional response to any proposal that requires compromise. Ex: The Congressmen pronounced the president’s plan “dead on arrival” but several seemed to have had died days before the press conference and their last new ideas passed away in 1959. 

death taxn., tax on inherited wealth  assessed on estates above $5 million; 2. blood-sucking government drain on all working class Americans worth more than $5 million. Ex: Nothing is certain except death and taxes and politicians ranting about the death tax.

debate, n., free prime-time political advertising with Betsy Ross as set designer.

debt ceilingn., limit to government borrowing that keeps the house from falling in on bickering Congressman.

deficit hawkn., politician who, when his party is not in power, cares passionately about
the federal deficit. Ex: The day after he lost his committee chairmanship in the Senate, the deficit hawk began to squawk.

defense cutsn. 1. the third rail of American politics; 2. in hard times, the proposed
scrapping of a non-functioning tank or bomber still on the drawing board.

democracy, n., 1 “… the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.” – Winston Churchill; 2. “… the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” – H.L. Mencken

n. eating establishment candidates and journalists consider the oracle of American wisdom.  Ex:  Although Times, CNN, and FOXNews are here to get the “pulse of America’s heartland,” half the people in this diner don’t even vote.


economically disadvantagedadj., broke. Syn: busted, bankrupt, insolvent, penniless, ruined, out of business,  spent, likely to vote Republican or not vote, thus remaining broke, busted, bankrupt, insolvent, penniless, ruined…

Election Dayn., the second Tuesday in November when after millions of ads, billions of
dollars, and trillions of words, it all comes down to a bunch of auto-parts workers and Waitress Moms in Ohio.

election integrity, n., challenging the voting rights of anyone likely to vote against your party.  Ex: You’ll feel better knowing that the lawyers who decided the 2000 presidential election are working hard to give the 2012 contest the same election integrity.

Electoral College, n., 1. college that meets once every four years to dilute democracy; 2. 18th century innovation turned 20th century relic turned 21st century embarrassment. Ex: Across America this week, sheepish parents will be stumped by the same questions: what does the Electoral College do and were our Founding Fathers drunk when they devised it? 

energizing the base, v., 1. reminding core supporters why they should vote for you despite what they’ve recently heard; 2. reminding donors why you still need more money.  Ex: On a recent swing through swing states, the candidate energized his base by speaking to rooms of people who looked exactly like him.

entitlement, n., 1. sense of deservedness felt by citizens who want something for their tax dollars other than war, 2. any government program a candidate doesn’t like.  Ex: The candidate promised to cut Social Security, Medicare, education and highway funding, Head Start, school lunch programs, the EPA, and all other wasteful entitlements. 

extending the Bush tax cuts, v., keeping the 99 percent in their place or else in the streets. Ex: The candidate promised to extend the Bush tax cuts but we just wanted him to swear he would never mention Bush again.


the fact of the matter is… n., routine introduction to a statement that has few facts and doesn’t matter. Syn: “it’s a well-known fact that…”; “according to reliable sources…”; “the facts clearly show that…”; Antonym: “Facts are stupid things.” — Ronald Reagan

faction, n., 1. byproduct of distilling the full political spectrum into two parties; 2. party members even crazier than the rest of their party.

factsn., 1. annoying guests no longer invited to debates or political parties; 2. precise data carefully selected, altered, or twisted to support a candidate’s worldview. Ex: “Facts are stupid things.” – Ronald Reagan

factual inaccuracyn., lie; Ex:  The candidate’s claim that his opponent ate children was a factual inaccuracy.

failed leadership, n., charge against incumbent for failing to break down stone walls, stop all filibusters, and lead the country down a one-way street.

failed policies of the pastn., misguided federal programs that failed to end poverty,  stop the paving of the planet, and give poor children a head start. Syn., government.

fat catsn., rich elites backing a candidate’s opponent who, with the help of “generous donors,” he will defeat in November.

federal mandate, n., tyrannical government program forcing Americans to occasionally behave with a  social conscience. Ex: When the government mandated that all Americans breathe, millions held their breath till they turned blue. See: broccoli.

foreign policy debaten., spirited, even arrogant argument between candidates or Congressmen over how to impose American spirit and arrogance on a global scale. See: the world from somewhere other than a cruise ship.

freedom from speech, n., forgotten right of all Americans to turn off their TVs, Internet, radio, and other media, stop the blather and just think for a minute.

the first thing I will do in the Oval Office…, n., 1. the illusion that a president can single-handedly change things; 2. pandering to American’s latent wish for a king. Ex: The candidate predicted the first thing he would do in the Oval Office but the first thing he did  was start his re-election campaign.

fiscal cliffn., disaster set to occur when the lemmings in Congress, after years of obeying their instincts to slash taxes and increase spending, will plunge over the edge of deficits, taking the country with them.

flip-flop, n., 1. casual, open-toed footwear enabling the wearer to walk comfortably in hot sand; 2. casual, open-brained campaign style enabling the candidate to walk comfortably through hot issues.  Ex: Before he started flip-flopping, the candidate was against everything we stood for, but now we like him because we can’t remember anything that occurred before last Thursday.

focus group, n., panel of ordinary citizens hired to tell a candidate what would make
them frightened enough to vote for him.

foreign aid, n., sinkhole into which the U.S. has poured trillions, only to be paid back with resentment and attack. Ex: The candidate promised to “zero out” foreign aid, saving the nation a whopping $12 billion a year, or .19 percent of GDP.

fossil fuels, n., energy sources formed by decaying fossils which power the dinosaurs that now roam freeways and decay in Congress.

Founding Fathersn., flawless men whose vision still guides an America that resembles theirs as much as horse-drawn carriages resemble SUVs and muskets resemble .9 mm Glocks. Ex: The candidate swooned when he mentioned the Founding Fathers, but no one in the audience could name more than two of them.

framing a questionv., using gilded language to make a complex issue seem as simple as the “Mona Lisa” and as alarming as “The Scream.”  Ex:  The candidate framed the immigration question by calling it “Freedom’s Last Stand.”   See: death tax.

Francen., 1. long time ally whose friendship extends from the American Revolution through World War II and beyond; 2. wine-besotted, un-American  nation with socialist health care, smelly cheeses, and effeminate intellectuals in funny hats. Syn: Massachusetts. Ex: The liberal candidate’s loss was sealed when his opponent proved he had studied in France.

free speechn., First amendment right allowing a candidate to lie without fear of prosecution. Ex: Truth in Advertising laws prevent you from claiming that Listerine cures colds, but free speech allows you to say your opponent voted to raise taxes 52 times, refuses to celebrate Christmas, and is coming to get your guns.  Is this a great country or what? 

full disclosure, v., revealing small amounts of personal and financial information to divert media attention until  the next scandal.

The Future, n., Promised Land of politics reached by opposing new ideas, stonewalling  change, and nurturing nostalgia.  Ex:  The candidate spoke of restoring our future by rolling back health care reform, opposing alternative energy, resurrecting Ronald Reagan, and repealing the years 2009-2012.

fund-raisern., 1. dinner where Americans pay $50,000 each while other Americans dig in the dumpster out back; 2. the morphing of politics into prostitution.


gas prices, n., 1. economic indicator controlled by oil companies, according to Democrats, and the White House, according to Republicans. 2. the cause of all discontent in America.  Ex: When gas prices hit $4 a gallon, many Americans saw life as no longer worth living.

gender gapn.,  the tendency of women to vote for their interests and men to vote for their fantasies.

getting out the votev., knocking on doors and making phone call to convince millions that the endless hours of attack ads, debates, punditry, and polemics were all real and that democracy is not a spectator sport.

Global Warmingn., ongoing eco-catastrophe which, though never mentioned during the campaign, proved to be the only power that could shut down its hot air.  See: Climate Change but it’s way worse than that.

God, n., 1. a Democratic candidate’s good friend; 2. a Republican candidate’s good friend,  spiritual counselor, SuperPAC contributor, and top level campaign adviser.

governmentn. collection of public servants dedicated to serving as a handy scapegoat for all problems.  Syn. Big Brother, leech, sinkhole.

government takeover of…  n., modest reform of a dysfunctional part of the private sector.  Ex: PolitiFact editors and reporters have chosen “government takeover of health care” as the 2010 Lie of the Year. (Tampa Bay Times)

grassrootsadj., 1. idea or candidate supported by average citizens (archaic); 2. the mask worn by billionaires bankrolling the latest attack ads. Ex: “Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, a conservative nonprofit group that is one of the most prominent critics of President Obama, raised nearly $77 million in its first 19 months from a small cadre of secret donors, including two dozen who wrote checks of $1 million and more.” (Los Angeles Times)

gun controln.1. brief concern for a week after the latest random shooting. 2. relic of the Sixties all candidates see as political suicide. (archaic)


hard truths, n., what a candidate, reminding you of your Dad, promises to tell you about life, multi-trillion dollar debt and why your Mom is in the next room packing.  Ex: The candidate told us hard truths but the fact that he was the candidate was the hardest to swallow.

have issues withv., to disagree so violently that you don’t know where to begin. Ex: All the incumbent could say about his challenger’s plan to give every American a gun and a Bible was, “I have issues with that.”

health caren. medical services the government inflicts on the poor and elderly.  See Obamacare. Ex: When European countries imposed socialistic health care on hapless citizens. millions suffered increased life expectancy and chronically reduced health care costs.

home stretchn., final grueling weeks of the campaign when TV’s relentless commentary, talk shows, debates, and attack ads  makes it a real stretch to stay home on a given night.

The Housen., larger of the two Congressional bodies that contains the full range of American political opinion from zealous to fanatical. Ex: “You better stop that fussin’, Billy,” his mother said, “or your father and I will make you watch The House on C-SPAN.” 

hot buttonn., small issue that, when pushed, unleashes teams of robotic talking heads to make people vote against their own self-interest.


immigrationn., people coming to America to take jobs that people whose ancestors came to America won’t take. Ex: When unemployment tops 5 percent, immigration tops the talking points.

incumbentn., evil officeholder with full responsibility for all of America’s problems. Syn: the devil. Ex: The candidate blamed the incumbent for gas prices, high taxes, low self-esteem, and the crucifixion of Christ.

inequalityn., 1. social process by which the rich get richer and the poor go to Wal-mart;  2. the monster that ate the middle class.

insider, n., politico well-known by other politicos for wooing the same lobbyists, stonewalling the same changes, kissing the same asses. Antonym: voter.

intellectual, n., 1. in the opposition party, a politician with a pointy head, East Coast college degree, and out-of-touch values; 2. in the candidate’s own party, a politician who reads. See: Ayn Rand, but. . . . on second thought. . . don’t.

 “It’s the ____, stupid!” n., catchphrase designed to dumb down a campaign, calm bewildered  voters, and earn soundbytes on FOXNews and CNN.  Ex: The candidate spoke at length about deficits, tax loopholes, and capital gains, but when he said, “It’s the economy, stupid!” we all felt much better.


job creatorn. title given to the ultra-rich for creating hundreds of jobs in the yachting, jewelry, and McMansion construction industries.

job killer, n., 1. proposed regulations on a lucrative industry; 2 proposed tax hike on a candidate’s base.  Ex: By November, the candidate had shouted “job killer” dozens of times but the press had not done a single autopsy.

just don’t get itn., phrase designed to isolate opponents by branding them as clueless outsiders who do not understand the joke of being an American in 2012.  Syn: out-of-touch, loser, pathetic loser, Congressman.


kick the can down the roadv., 1. metaphor comparing a child’s purposeful game to Congress’ purpose of shirking responsibility; 2. proof that Congress is composed of children. Ex: “We’re not going to kick the can down the road,” the Congressman said, “so there, nyaah.”


Laborn., the people who built America but were too busy doing so to tell their children and grandchildren about it.

leaning Republican/Democratv., condition of a state or voter who has been watching the latest attack ads. Ex: After a $35.2 million attack ad blitz throughout the state, Ohio is now leaning Republican and may soon fall over.

left wing media, n., the entire media except the National Review, half the Internet, CNBC, FOXNews, the Wall Street Journal, everything else owned by Rupert Murdoch, all of talk radio, several corporate media conglomerates, , two-thirds of the blogosphere, the Washington Times, local news everywhere except Boston, Berkeley, and Boulder, the Chicago Tribune, Forbes and Fortune…

liberal, n., well-meaning person whose tragic attraction to lattes, Volvos, and sushi  renders all his political opinions invalid. See: France, Massachusetts.

libertarian, n., intelligent candidate who believes people should be free of government oppression and exploitation so they can oppress and exploit each other.


Main Street/Wall Streetn., The contrast between Real Americans who toil for obscenely low wages and workaholics who toil for obscenely high wages, with bonuses and bailouts. 

marriage, n., sacred matrimony,  holy bond, and untouchable foundation of society whose component parts must be pre-approved by the federal government.

Massachusettsn., 1. state with the strongest social programs, lowest divorce rate, highest education levels, fourth highest per capita income, and 37th highest taxes; 2 .a socialist gulag with crippling taxes, death panel health care, strangling bureaucracy and millions of liberals. Syn: Taxachusetts, hell, France.

Medicare, n., the socialized medicine that dare not speak its name. Ex: When a South Carolina man told his Congressman to “keep your government hands off my Medicare,” awkward moments passed until someone in the audience finally took the man aside.

million dollars, n., 1. a fortune (archaic); 2. sum spent daily by each candidate and hourly by the Pentagon. See: clout, Super Donor, million billion jillion dollars.

misleadingadj., media euphemism for a deceitful, lying, mendacious, slanderous, election-stealing, Swift Boating statement. See: factual inaccuracy. Ex: Although the ad’s claim that the incumbent once killed thirty people with a blunt instrument was an outright lie, the press called it misleading.

moderaten., dangerous middle-of-the-road candidate whose temperate views are leading this country to ruin.  syn: wimp, sellout, waffler. Ex:  Ancient Greek moderates believed in “moderation in all things” and look at Greece today.

Moderate Republicann. political species once thriving but now extinct due to the impact of Comet FOXNews.

modernizing our militaryv., purchase and deployment of state-of-the-art killing machines to hunt people in caves.

momentum, n., 1. during primaries, having won the last contest; 2. during the general election, being judged by the media as not the certain loser.

money, n., life-giving elixir of politics.  Syn, speech.

My rootsn., small, middle-American hometown where candidate’s humble, hard-working parents taught him the value of attack ads, opposition research, and how to start a SuperPAC to raise $50 million.


negative campaigningn., campaign style based on vicious personal attacks that alienate the public and win elections.

the next four yearsn., 1.

Ex: The candidate considered discussing what he would do in the next four years but then he remembered Congress.

no tax pledgen., 1. GOP Congressional pledge to keep taxes at historic lows and red ink at historic highs; 2. government run by people who don’t believe in government. Ex: After we elected politicians who had taken the no tax pledge, we hired teachers who pledged to cut their classes, doctors who told us to “just buck up,” and lawyers who pledged to never set foot in a courtroom. 


Obamacare, n., minor health care reform that oppresses hard-working citizens by expanding their coverage, regulating insurance companies, and imposing life-sapping government assistance.  Syn: socialism, fascism, death panels. Ex: If Congress repeals Obamacare, the new mandates will be soaring health care costs, spottier coverage, and lower life expectancy.

October surprisen., 1. late campaign revelation about an opponent designed to rescue the candidate’s sinking ship; 2. last chance for slander. Ex: The candidate’s October surprise accused his opponent of adultery, treason, and drowning his kittens in his kids’ wading pool.

old school, adj., charge that an opponent is tradition-bound but bound by the wrong traditions. Ex: The candidate called his opponent “old school” but failed to note that his own school (Harvard) was much older than his opponent’s (Columbia).

opposition research, n., 1. investigation digging up howling lies to destroy an opponent, his wife, kittens, and little children; 2. slander for hire.  Ex: The new candidate seemed presidential until opposition research made him look like the reincarnation of Vlad the Impaler.  See: Swift-boating, factual inaccuracy, yo’ mama.

optimism, n., last refuge of a losing candidate; 2. popular sentiment among embattled, brow-beaten Americans when counting the days till Election Day.

our economic freedom, n., the freedom of a few to get vastly rich, most to just get along, and the rest to get a gun.

our fiscal house, n., metaphor comparing America’s $13 trillion economy to a foreclosed, 2-bedroom fixer-upper with bad plumbing and a leaky roof. Ex:  Speaking to homeowners, half of whose homes were underwater, the candidate promised to get “our fiscal house in order.” 

outrage , n., 1. sense of fury felt by party members forced to live in a two-party system; 2., addictive drug peddled by the 24/7 cable networks. Ex: By refining raw resentment into pure outrage, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and others have made outrageous fortunes.

outside groups, n., roving PACs of feral millionaires from other states bankrolling vicious attack ads that leave a Congressional candidate with no blood on his hands. Ex: Huge contributions from outside groups have turned slander into a spectator sport. 


patriotn. any loyal, red-blooded American who fears elected officials as much as he  trusts unelected CEOs.  Ex: To show us how much he loved his country, the loyal patriot explained why he hated Washington, politicians, Congress, the president, the East Coast, the West Coast. . . 

playing politics, v., politician’s charge  that other politicians are acting like politicians. Ex: After criticizing House Republicans  for “playing politics,”  the president accused the Chicago Bulls of playing basketball.

political cloutn., money. Ex:  Within days after the SuperDonor wielded his political clout, all Congressional bills regulating his industry were bludgeoned to death in committee.

political footballn., hotly-debated issue that Congress tries to run into the end zone but fumbles, recovers, fumbles again, and eventually punts.

politics as usual, n.,  1. the relentless system of big money, big egos, and big deficits that candidates promise to end; 2; the relentless system of big money, big egos, and big deficits that incumbents perpetuate.

post-debate bouncen., rise in polling numbers by candidate whose testosterone
seemed most rabid and whose lies seemed the most plausible. Ex: Pundits attributed the candidate’s post-debate bounce to his repeated assertion that his opponent is a weenie. 

primaryn. the political process that begins the selection of the world’s most powerful leader through a series of bake-offs in Iowa.

private sector, n., sanctified realm of the economy where a sophisticated understanding of political science is acquired by meeting payrolls and balancing budgets.

privatizationn., using the private sector to address problems the private sector caused.

The Promised Land, n., fabled land where candidates make promises and everyone else makes diddly squat. See: The Future, but get a clue.

prosperityn., state of well-being, often said to be just around the corner, which the
incumbent has destroyed and the challenger will  restore. Ex: If elected, the candidate promised to restore prosperity within 90 minutes of his inauguration.

proven leadershipn., 1. candidate’s experience in running a Fortune 500 company, often into the ground; 2. candidate’s experience as a one-term senator from a small, miserable state.


reaching across the aisle, v., working with the opposition party to produce a bill that will not be filibustered, will not please anyone, will be signed into law, and will not change anything.

The Real American., wherever a candidate can find a diner where people listen, an auditorium without hecklers, and voters who don’t believe the polls. Ex: “It’s great to be here in the Real America,” the candidate said to the small crowd lined up to collect their unemployment checks.

a real debate, n., 1. what politicians call for when they want to seem above the fray; 2. what voters hope for during each campaign; 3. what surrenders to another season of scandals and Swift Boating. Ex: We all looked forward to a real debate but what we got was two guys stumping the swing states while spewing sound bytes. 

redistributionn., 1. reducing financial inequity through taxation (archaic); 2. increasing financial inequality by slashing taxes, exporting jobs, cutting education, then blaming your  opponent for mentioning redistribution. Ex: Terrified by talk of redistribution, the citizen calculated his net worth and felt redistributed. 

redistrictingv., redrawing Congressional districts into snakelike shapes guaranteed to elect politicians shaped like cowards and cheaters. Ex: By the time Texas finished its redistricting, many districts were as slimy and ugly as the snakes they sent to Congress.

Romney, Mitt,  n., 1. Republican presidential candidate; 2.


Ronald Reagan, n., 1. symbol of all that is holy and good; 2. the only Republican president since Eisenhower that the party can point to with pride.  Ex: Ronald Reagan’s average approval rating in office, 52.8 percent, puts him about in the middle of post-WWII presidents.

running mate, n., vice presidential candidate chosen to win states the challenger has small chance of winning, attract voters the candidate has small chance of attracting, and  create small blunders to distract from the candidate’s big blunders.  See: Dick Cheney, but duck.


scare tactics, n., 1. candidate’s charge that the other side is using fear better than his side; 2. campaigning as usual. Ex:  When Paul Ryan accused the Democrats of using “scare tactics,” TV audiences laughed louder than they did during “The Office.”

school choicen., promise to save our schools by letting students choose the school where they’ll refuse to do their homework.

second amendmentn., sacred scripture granting each American the right to own enough semi-automatics, Glocks, and ammo to make sure “no one messes with me again.” Ex: After the last random shooting, the second amendment was re-written as: “A loosely regulated lunatic fringe being the by-product of a free State, the right of all paranoids to keep and bear semi-automatics shall not be infringed.”

The Senaten., democratic legislative body where a single vote can hold up an appointment and the threat of a filibuster ends all discussion; 2. where democracy goes to die. Ex: With 65 percent of Americans supporting the bill, it went to the Senate where one senator winked, another chuckled, and the bill  was never heard from again. See: Dead on Arrival.

setting priorities, v., deciding which education, health, or infrastructure funds to cut in order to sustain the defense budget.

slipping through the cracksv., catchphrase blaming poverty on America’s social safety net, the world’s only net with cracks. Ex: The 46.2 million Americans now living below the poverty line had slipped through the cracks, the candidate said with a straight face.

small business, n., 1. corporate America’s fallback defense against any government regulation; 2. nostalgia for the days when Mom and Pop owned more than a mortgage.  Ex: The CEOs of Wal-Mart, GE, and ExxonMobil bitterly complained of what the proposed regulations would to do small business.

socialistn. 1. person who favors big government (archaic); 2. anyone to the political left of J. Edgar Hoover. syn: Satan, child molester.

social issues, n. controversial issues, including abortion, gay marriage, and contraception, that give candidates license to be anti-social and Christians license to be un-Christian.

Solyndra, n., failed solar energy company whose government backing proves that the sun refuses to shine on Democrats; See: Bain Capital.

spinv., 1.  to turn rapidly; 2. the art of reframing or lying about an issue to turn public opinion rapidly. Ex: Months after the incumbent spun the unemployment rate into proof of recovery, millions were still dizzy.

superdonorn., ultra-rich campaign funder whose democracy-subverting powers come from the planet Citizens United. Ex: Look! Down in the gutter!  It’s a rat!  It’s a snake!  No, it’s Superdonor! 

superPAC, n, 1. super rich Political Action Committee that can bend campaign spending laws, change the course of mighty elections, and leap small voters in a single bound; 2. the end of democracy as we knew it.

Swift Boating, v., to use fabricated stories to castrate a candidate. Ex: By the time Karl Rove and company finished  Swift Boating John Kerry, voters thought the thrice-decorated Vietnam vet was an atheistic draft-dodger born in France who had pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda.

swing staten., state that voted for the winning candidate in the last election but still has problems.

swing votersn., critical part of the electorate which votes for the candidate with the best attack ads.  Ex: The swing voter was proud to have voted for Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama, and every student body president back in his high school!


tacking to the center, v., renouncing promises made during the primaries in order to appear practical, presidential, and sane.  Ex: Tacking to the center once he had the nomination, the candidate said ending Social Security and dynamiting the Department of Education would “not be my first priorities.”

Take our country back, n., 1. for Democrats, back to 1960, for Republicans, back to 1860; 2. nostalgia kidnapping truth and demanding the future as ransom.

talking pointsn., rehearsed insults and lies  repeated by party pundits until America loses what’s left of its mind.  Syn: Hitler’s Big Lie. Ex: From the lowliest campaign worker to the heights of media punditry, the party stuck to its talking points and stifled all dissent, discussion, and democracy.

tax loopholen., chasm in the tax code that allows a rich taxpayer with a clever accountant to become a non-taxpayer with a Lear Jet (business expense), a McMansion (home office) and a trophy wife (exemption).

Tea Partyn. political party, bankrolled by billionaires, consisting of ordinary people striving to preserve their  financial inequality.

The 47 Percentn.,  freeloaders who depend on the government because the private sector has left them too poor to pay income tax.  Ex:  ” There are 47 percent…who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.”  See: you name it, but don’t name it.

think tankn., collection of Ph.D.-level policy makers doing unbiased research to prove their political point of view.  Ex: The candidate cited the prestigious (pick one: conservative/liberal) think tank whose most recent research supported (pick one: slashing/raising) taxes in order to grow the economy. 

third party, n., political party that runs a politician who isn’t a politician favoring policies that aren’t policies to please voters who don’t vote.

this mess, n., the current mess, as distinguished from previous messes under other messy presidents. Ex: The candidate vowed, if elected, “to clean up this mess” but after he left, our cleaning crew still had to do it.

throwing money at a problem, n., 1. funding a program a candidate does not like; 2. government in action.  Antonym:  throwing denial at a problem. Ex: Democrats keep throwing money at problems but Republicans prefer to just throw problems away.

transparencyn., campaign disclosure goal of letting voters see every dirty dollar that is corrupting democracy.

trickle down economics, n., widely discredited theory positing that money follows the laws of gravity rather than the laws of greed.

true conservative, n., candidate who dreams of taking the economy back to 1929, social programs back to 1868 and the Constitution back to 1789.

truth in politics, n., a popular myth that surfaces every four years. Syn: truth in lending, truth in fairy tales, truth on Wall Street.

typically biased media polln., 1. poll which has your candidate losing; 2. poll conducted according to statistically sound measures but reported in the media.


undecided voter, n., upright, under-informed citizen with a coin in one hand and the fate  of the election in the other. Ex: Despite 18 months of incoming attack ads, spin, and wholesale slander, the undecided voter just could not make up his mind — so he went shopping.


voter, n., citizen who once determined elections but now, unless he can buy free speech, is only allowed to vote. Ex: After surviving 18 months of attack ads, slanders, and other free speech, the voter cast his vote, then went home and took a shower.

voter ID laws, n., protection against the 15 million Americans who will try to vote while black.


waitress mom, n., daughter of a soccer mom, granddaughter of a stay-at-home mom, currently torn between job, kids, and which pandering candidate will get her vote, if she has time to vote. Ex: The waitress mom couldn’t decide between the candidate who promised jobs but had outsourced them and the candidate who promised jobs but didn’t get her a better one, so she muted all the attack ads during “Teen Mom.”

war chestn., coffers filled with billions in SuperPAC contributions just waiting for the right time to detonate democracy. Ex: The candidate had the backing of a majority of voters in key states but his opponent’s war chest made the race a dead heat.

War on Povertyn., 1960s social programs that cut the poverty rate from 22 to 12 percent and seniors’ poverty rate  from 35 to 15 percent, and were therefore a failure. Ex: “In the Sixties we waged a war on poverty and poverty won.” – Ronald Reagan 

Washingtonn. American capital that combines the worst aspects of Sodom, Gomorrah, Hell, and Hitler’s bunker.

wedge issue, n., emotionally charged issue such as abortion, flag burning, or gay marriage, calculated to drive a wedge between a voter and his self-interest.  Syn: hot button issue, game changer, whatever drives up cable ratings.

“Which Candidate Would You Rather Have a Beer With?” 1. poll question that promotes likable candidates rather than qualified candidates; 2. proof that a presidential election is a high school election writ large. Ex: Voters who elected the candidate they wanted to have a beer were disappointed when, as president, he behaved like a frat boy. 

womenn., 160 million member special interest group whose babies must be kissed, whose freedom to choose life must be protected, whose votes and husbands must be courted.  Beyond that, though…   Ex: The candidate’s pitch to women failed because most women had met so many men just like him.  

6 Responses to CED — A to Z

  1. Pingback: Word of the Day | campaignenglish

  2. Pingback: Word of the Day | campaignenglish

  3. Pingback: The Last Word | campaignenglish

  4. Elise Gibson says:

    Goodbye? Say it ain’t so. I’ve really enjoyed these Ambrose Bierce-style political definitions. Great job in keeping this going so steadily.

    • Bruce Watson says:

      Thanks for tuning in, Elise. But now that I’ve helped swing the election, it’s time for me to step down. The whole CED will still remain available, however. I just won’t be adding any more words.

  5. Charli says:

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