A Phrasebook Guide to U.S. Politics

American Exceptionalism

The unassailable notion that America is the world’s lone “indispensable nation.”


American Humility

See “American exceptionalism.”


American People

A mere rhetorical tool employed by politicians and pundits alike. To be used in the following manner: “What the American people really want (insert unsubstantiated claims here).” The “American people” is not to be confused with “public opinion” (see below).



The reaching of consensus by both national political parties on nearly every issue of consequence to the average American. Synonym: American Foreign Policy.



The greatest economic system ever created. It is irreversible and not to be questioned; unless one hates “freedom” (see below).


Class Warfare

The range of divisive tactics employed by certain “un-American elements” aiming to: raise the average standard of living, preserve the social safety net, and create a more equitable and just society. Useful tip: cry class warfare to smear, and ultimately derail, any political opponent’s domestic agenda.


Collateral Damage

The killing of innocent civilians in military operations. Deny and conceal all occurrences.



The main catalysts for “entitlement reform” (see “reform” below).



The equal participation of the nation’s ruling elite in the management of all governmental affairs. To be achieved via the containment and manipulation of “public opinion.”



See “Republicans.”



Bad guy strongman (e.g., Syria’s Bashar al-Assad).


Economic Stimulus




The uninhibited liberty granted to every citizen within a “democratic” system of government to sell one’s labor power to the proprietors of “small business” (see below).


Future Generations

Those whose future is best served by the disbanding of the “burdensome” and “freedom” impairing social safety net.



Bad guy rebels (e.g., the Taliban).


International Community

American allies and client states.


International Law

The internationally accepted rules governing states in their relations with other states. Not applicable, however, to those within the “international community.”



The central political focus in every even numbered year.


Middle Class

A nearly extinct American social class once occupying the space between the nation’s rich and poor—although, prospering if one recalibrates the standard middle class income to more than
$500,000 a year.


National Security

The ability to secure “vital national interests” (see below).


Political Scandal

The discovered tweeting and/or texting of lewd photos by an elective representative. Reports of other miscellaneous sexual transgressions also apply. Spare no expense in coverage.


Private Sector

The economic sphere comprised of the nation’s “small businesses.” Also, the only sector of the economy that creates jobs and thus must be referenced in every jobs-related speech and proposal. Granting too much deference here is not possible.


Protecting Civilians

The forceful ousting of foreign governments residing outside the “international community.”


Public Opinion

The misguided policy judgments of the ill-informed and volatile masses. Elite capitulation to such popular sentiments is evidence of severe political weakness.


Public Sector    

The economic sphere enriching the parasitic, fat cat public servant. (Although, is there any other kind of public servant?) The public realm, furthermore, is not a source of job creation. Hence, one must refrain from any mention in job related speeches or proposals.



Good guy insurgents (e.g., Libyan anti-Gaddafi fighters).


Reform Education

The breaking of anti-child teacher unions, coupled with the liberation of schools from meddlesome public oversight via the development of private charter institutions.



The shuttering of the Social Security Ponzi scheme, accompanied by the effort to finally oust government from Medicare.



The elimination of all job killing governmental regulations
(i.e., all regulations).



The lessening of the tax burden on those least able to afford it
(i.e., all “small businesses” and upper income earners).



See “Democrats.”


Shared Sacrifice

See “entitlement” and “tax” reform.


Simplifying the Tax Code

Raising taxes on the poor and lowering them on the rich—the antithesis of “class warfare.”


Small Businesses

All NASDAQ and Dow Jones-listed corporations.



The maintenance of American economic and military dominance abroad. Best achieved via the “protection of civilians” and the support of foreign “strongmen” (see below).



Good guy dictator (e.g., Saudi King Abdullah).


Supporting the Troops

The arming, planning, and recruiting undertaken for the future “protection of civilians.” Prominently placed bumper stickers and flags also count.


Tax Holiday

Permanent tax cut.



The use of violence—or the threat of violence—to attain goals that are political, religious, or ideological in nature. Oh, wait. Wouldn’t that, then, mean…


Troop Withdrawal

The transition from the deployment of hundreds of thousands of combat troops to the deployment of hundreds of thousands of military trainers.


Vital National Interests

The interests of American “small businesses.”  


Ben Schreiner is a freelance writer living in Salem, Oregon