I’m an unashamed geek about politics, especially in election years. I can’t do math, but I can crunch poll and electoral college numbers with an idiot savant flair. I answer to the John Williamsesque election music like one of Pavlov’s dogs. And I’m not an armchair quarterback–I put skin in the game, every year.
But with only three weeks (!) to go, there are a few phrases that I’m ready to never hear again. So, in the few minutes I’ve got to spare before tonight’s phone bank (no, seriously, it starts at 5:30) and the second presidential debate, I thought I’d break a couple of them like balsa wood boards at a karate convention.
1) “Job Creators” — Can we consign this to the same scrap heap as “titans of industry”? Because, let’s face it, a kid who shits his pants is a job creator too. Cleaning it up was a job I didn’t have to do before, and now I do. If I had a tax break for every shitty diaper or milk spill or pile of discarded clothes that my kids “created” for me, I could afford to take a vacation.
2) “Middle Class” — Americans are positively delusional about their incomes. John Steinbeck said, “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” Statistics say $50,000 is “real” middle class, but we can’t even agree on that. Apparently, it depends on who you ask. Romney has indicated that he thinks of someone with an income of $200,000 as “middle income,” but that’s as false as a training bra full of toilet tissue. If you make $200,000 a year, you’re in the top 2% of incomes–that’s nowhere near the middle.
3) “Failed Stimulus” — There’s no such thing in America. We have Viagra, and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was a success. Is the economy still ugly? Absolutely. But who knows how deep the rabbit hole would’ve gone without the stimulus? I grew up on my grandparents’ stories of young marriages in the Great Depression. I’m incredibly relieved I won’t have the same stories for my sons.
4) “Traditional Values” — This one burns my ass all year, every year, but it’s like a bad chili dog in election years–causing pain and confusion on both ends. I’m just going to come out and say it: There is no such thing as “traditional values.” Your traditions are not my traditions; America’s traditions are not the world’s traditions. This term is a thinly veiled replacement for saying “I don’t like the way you do that.” It applies to almost anything, but especially sex, family, faith, and politics. I have long histories of mental illness, substance abuse, crazy hardcore work ethic, and Christian faith in my family. Doesn’t mean everyone should do things our way. In fact, I recommend against it.
5) “Pro-Life” — If you say you are, I almost guarantee you’re not. I’m far from the first person to point out that many “pro-life” people care about that fetus until the precise instant its feet hit the cold air. After that, who cares? Motherhood is a sacred institution, unless you’re poor, in which case, leave your kid with this exploited worker while you get your ass to a minimum-wage job, 12 hours a day, 45 minutes on the bus each way. Good education? Save up or play public school roulette. Safe neighborhoods? Whatever you do, don’t give those public sector workers any incentive to keep their grueling jobs, like health insurance or a pension. Do something wrong? Get thee directly to a corporate-owned prison, or better yet, to an execution chamber. These folks are pro-life like I’m pro-centipedes: they’re okay as creatures in theory, but if one shows up in my house, I’m gonna smush it into oblivion.
6) “The American people want…” — Don’t even finish that sentence, you. We don’t know what we want. Two Americans can’t even decide what to have for lunch, let alone whose economic or foreign affairs policies.
7) “War on Terror” — We have crushed Al Qaeda, but we will never win the war against terrorists. That’s because terrorism is a tactic, not an ideology–it’s like declaring war on hammers. And when we start using robot planes to drop bombs that may or may not land on the intended targets, we are causing terror.
8) “Debt Ceiling” — I’m not tired of this phrase because it’s misleading; I’m tired of it because it’s being used incorrectly. The general public has conflated the debt ceiling and the deficit, both of which have much less to do with our future economic health than the GDP or home sale numbers. Raising the debt ceiling does NOT raise the limit on our national credit card–it tells those who’ve lent us money that we’re going to pay for what we’ve already charged. And when the world is actually paying us to hold its money while our economy is still stalled, now is exactly the right time to indulge in a little deficit spending.
9) “Food Stamp President” — I hope Obama embraces this one like he’s done with Obamacare. Because when Republicans say that more people have been on food stamps under his administration, they say it like it’s a bad thing, which it isn’t. People were making so little money for so long that they qualified for the extremely low threshold for food assistance. Our president made sure they didn’t starve. Fewer food stamps means fewer dirty plates. Think about it.