If you last studied American government or politics in middle or high school, like many of us, it may be time for a brief review of words in the news.
Here are nine terms heard recently and frequently on news programs — from anchors, pundits or their guests.
- Constituent: noun, from Latin “to set up.” In this context, dictionaries define it as: 2. A resident of a district or member of a group represented by an elected official. 3. One that authorizes another to act as a representative; a client. (A*); 2. (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) a resident of a constituency, especially one entitled to vote (C*); and 4. a person who authorizes another to act in his or her behalf, as a voter in a district represented by an elected official. (W*)
People in Congress use this word frequently, especially in the short phrase, “my constituents.” They’re referring to the people back home, the ones they represent in DC.
Marginalize and divisive are similar in that they are demeaning to the people they describe. It seems marginalize is usually used about the regular folks while divisive is applied to politicians who supposedly represent the marginalized people but are not doing so honestly. The politician may be embellishing or diminishing the importance of an issue for their own reasons, not for the benefit of the people they serve.
- Marginalize: verb. To relegate or confine to a lower or outer limit or edge, as of social standing. (H); to relegate to the fringes, out of the mainstream; make seem unimportant; various economic assumptions marginalize women (C); to place in a position of marginal importance, influence, or power. (W)
- Divisive: adjective. Divisive suggests spoken or written ideas meant for “creating dissension or discord” (A); 1. causing or tending to cause disagreement or dissension (C).
Our political system has two main groups, or parties: Democrats and Republicans. There are two because we differ in our thoughts about how the country should be run, which proposed laws should be accepted or rejected and how the government will address certain responsibilities. Divisive, however, seems to be an accusation, as if one person’s comments are intentionally trying to drive a wedge between people who are discussing or trying to solve the same problem.
- RINO: noun. Acronym for “Republican in name only,” a word that attempts to insult a person who seems not to be an authentic Republican in thought or deed.
The opposite party’s insulting nickname, which is never heard, would be DINO-Democrat in name only.
Comically speaking, both acronyms refer to animals, the rhinoceros and dinosaur.
People think of rhinos as cute and amusing when they can be quite aggressive, while dinos are extinct, which seems to illustrate the ideas of current Democrats. Do I digress?
Appropriation: noun; from Latin, “to make one’s own.”.
The Appropriations Committee in Congress decides how and where and how much of the tax money the government takes in will be used, as in spent, for what the people-constituents–need.
Congresspeople often have in mind ideas and goals for their home states, known as earmarks, but they need the money to implement them. Appropriations designations and the laws passed allowing them to happen illustrates the idea of “to make one’s own” when it comes to American taxpayer’s dollars.
- Continuing resolution: noun.
Congress decides or resolves to allow business as usual if they haven’t decided the yearly budget before the current fiscal year is over. For example, the calendar year starts in January but how the money goes in and out of the national treasury starts October 1.
The Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, needs more discussion as to costs, according to some congresspeople who have heard from their constituents, and the discussion was not over by October 1 this year. Meanwhile, the ACA starts on the same day and needs funding.
- Filibuster: verb. An interesting word handed down from Spanish to French to Dutch. a. The use of obstructionist tactics, especially prolonged speechmaking, for the purpose of delaying legislative action. (A)
In our government, filibuster means a congressman/woman will need to speak for many hours without a break, standing, while talking on the subject under objection. It’s meant to delay the action of voting on the subject that still needs discussion.
The talking goes on until the speaker can’t speak or stand anymore, at their discretion. At that point, someone calls for cloture.
- Cloture: noun. From French for closure. A parliamentary procedure by which debate is ended and an immediate vote is taken on the matter under discussion. Also called closure.
The delay is over and the vote on the issue is taken. It’s not often clear how filibuster helps to change anyone’s vote; it’s a delay tactic.
- Repeal: verb. From French, “to call [back] from.” 1. to revoke or withdraw formally or officially. 2. to revoke or annul (a law, tax, etc.) by express legislative enactment. (W)
Recent use of repeal applies to the ACA/Obamacare law that was passed back in 2010. It’s apparent that it has some glitches, problems and objections by Congress and their constituents and talking about repealing it is ongoing. Meanwhile, it’s the law of the land.
Any law that’s been in the record for any length of time can be repealed, but it’s a process and takes time. It’s not up to one person to declare a law repealed.
*(A) American Heritage Dictionary; (C) Collins English Dictionary; (W) Webster’s College Dictionary