Words And Phrases Republicans Use To Gaslight America
A taxonomic guide to Republicanisms
With control of the House, Senate, and the presidency, Republicans have proved they are unable to govern. Donald Trump has had to rely largely on Executive Orders for governance and even their promise to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act grows less likely by the day.
However, there is one area in which Republicans are unmatched in their competency: their ability to take common words and phrases and turn them into propaganda, effectively gaslighting the entire country.
These words and phrases can be heard in nearly every Republican speech, be it on the campaign trail or on the floor of the House or Senate, because they’ve been effective. Many Americans have been sucked in without even knowing it, a slave to the GOP propaganda machine.
Below are just a few of the GOP’s greatest hits from over the years.
What it should mean: “a person who vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against enemies or detractors.”
What it actually means: Essentially the same thing, except instead of “supports their country” it now means “supports their party.”
When Republicans talk about being a patriot, they do not mean they have the best interest of the country at heart. If they did, they wouldn’t be aiding and abetting Trump in his robbery of the American people. Instead, they mean they stick up for their Republican idea of what the country should be.
More specifically, a white male-dominated Christian capitalist utopia.
What it should mean: The ideal that all life is sacred, from the unborn to the elderly, from the extremely rich to the downtrodden and less fortunate, regardless of race, sex, creed, sexual orientation, or religion.
What it actually means: No abortions.
Republicans have latched to the term “pro-life” when what they really mean is “anti-choice.” If the GOP were really pro-life, they would not also be pro-war, pro-death penalty, and actively trying to dismantle the social safety net. They do not fight for life, they fight against choice.
What it should mean: Entrepreneurs, be they large or small, who have established a business model that requires the employment of others to sustain and further the company.
What it actually means: Rich people who make a living paying workers as little as possible and not offering any kind of benefits other than a meager paycheck while raking in a fortune and donating to political campaigns.
The term “job creators” has morphed into a euphemism for “wealthy donors I don’t want to alienate by doing things like making them pay a living wage, providing health benefits, or paying their fair share in taxes.” You can hear this term in nearly every Republican stump speech.
What it should mean: The idea we should all strive for a country and government that does its very best to create an environment in which the family unit — traditional or otherwise — can thrive. A communal sense of togetherness should be the driving force of policy.
What it actually means: “Family” in this context is one man, one woman, and children. Nothing else actually counts as a “family” and the “values” part once against mean white and Christian.
This term is brought up to scare people whenever the idea of social progress comes up. It’s a term that burrows into the heads of white, Christian families everywhere as something that must be protected at all costs. This term is brought up when things like transgender people using the bathroom is discussed, and usually ends with stories like these.
(Spoiler Alert! It’s a collection of Republicans doing gay and/or illegal stuff)
“Get the Government Out of Your Bedroom”
What it should mean: The government shouldn’t try to legislate what two consenting adults do in the privacy of their bedroom.
What it actually means: A deep, burning desire to do the exact opposite.
Republicans often use this phrase when discussing things like contraception, thinking that somehow mandating coverage of birth control is government interference in the bedroom. They fail to see the irony in supporting archaic anti-gay legislation while they shout this phrase from their podiums.
Federal money for Viagra is fine though. Because men!
What it should mean: The “average American” should refer to the middle class, working person regardless of race, gender, or religion.
What it actually means: It means white, Christian people.
Are we all noticing the trend here? Come on.
This term has more recently gotten a bit more specific to mean anyone currently working or who has worked in a coal mine or factory of some kind as Republicans pander to the Rust Belt.
A Few More…
Liberal Elites = College-educated, professors, and/or media types
Bad Hombres = Mexicans
Takers = Poor minorities who need welfare
Forgotten Man = Lower and middle-class white men
“Grab ’em by the pussy” = Locker room talk
Politicians have always looked for a way to brand their policy and put a spin on certain words and phrases to benefit their agenda, but Republicans have taken it a step further. They don’t simply practice in buzzwords, they have gone over the brink into full-blown propaganda.
Whether it’s the work of people like Frank Luntz, who creates many of the dog-whistle phrases for Republicans, or Josh Holmes, former Mitch McConnell staffer who first coined “repeal and replace,” Republicans have fallen into a cycle of propaganda first, policy second.
My notecard from our March 2010 meeting where "repeal and replace" was born.
Or as in the case of “repeal and replace,” just propaganda.