If we want politicians to communicate better, and perhaps even lie less, we should no longer accept vacuous nonsense packed into specific words and phrases. All groups use vague terms that don’t really mean anything or mean different things to different people in telling ways. Perhaps we should discourage such ambiguous jargon:
Republicans & Democrats: “middle class” — it doesn’t mean what you think it means; it barely means anything. “Middle income” people do not constitute a “class.” The one percent earners do not constitute a class. Learn basic concepts! Read a book. Or two. Or a hundred. Don’t be led by deceptive statistic mongers, as if a steer by the nose.
Republicans & Democrats: “hard-working Americans.” Please, don’t make me upchuck. This is a shallow appeal to people who think they work hard, but most of whom probably do not. Today, with increasing numbers of white folks on disability (simply because they cannot find work easily any more — there are of course legit cases, of people seriously wounded and ill), and many of them conservative, Republicans are simply pandering when they say this, and shoring up illusions, too. And Democrats are more embarrassing, since their frank goal is to put more people on “welfare.” Hard-working indeed!
Repub: “family values” — if you were serious about supporting families, you’d talk less about “values” and more about “virtues” — and also seriously consider the damage to family life by secular trends of wealth and sex equality, the welfare state in most of its incarnations, and even the war on drugs. Also, the sacrificial focus on gays and not on heterosexual adultery amounts to a major hypocrisy. There are many reasons for Christianity losing its position in the West — persistent double standards in sex mores is surely one of the biggest.
Democrats: “pro choice” — the relentless focus on abortion everywhere and at all times and for any reason is one of the most despicable moves in modern politics, and conflating it with “freedom of choice” is more witless than those supporters of capitalism who always talk as if there were never externalities. “Freedom of choice” for whom? Certainly not prenates. And the fact that this slogan is applied to nothing but sexual relations indicates something far worse than a mere double standard.
Libertarians: “rights” and “big government” — it is futile to bring up rights into a discussion where people do not agree on the nature of obligation. Why? Rights entail obligations. And being against BIG government can be awfully vague, for bigness is not really the issue, is it? What matters is the scope of government. Also, if one addresses issues of size and scope, one should also incorporate ideas of hormesis and diminishing returns and “scale.”
In this, Libertarians are no different than any other group. They set themselves up for pillorying by the simple-minded slogans they are addicted to.