In her book “Statecraft,” the late, great British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher wrote: “Socialists have always spent much of their time seeking new titles for their beliefs, because the old versions so quickly become outdated and discredited.”
The Iron Lady was absolutely right, yet again.
America’s Democratic left craftily swaps the words associated with its policies. As public opinion or the facts start to escape them — presto — their speeches, articles and TV appearances employ new language. Leftists leave inconvenient lingo behind, like a snake’s abandoned skin languishing between desert rocks. Inexplicably, though, the Republican right usually adopts the left’s new parlance. This inadvertently advances the collectivist cause.
For instance, leftists understand that the word “liberal” telegraphs bloated, intrusive government at home, a blame-America-first posture overseas, and social programs propelled by victimology. Defining candidates as liberals often assures their defeat.
So, liberals started to call themselves “progressives.” Much better. Everyone loves progress.
One cannot blame the left for this linguistic sleight of hand. After all, they like to win elections, too.
What is maddening is that conservative advocates unwittingly aide liberals in this rhetorical jailbreak. Too many officeholders and pundits on the right chomped into the left’s bait and began calling them progressives.
This habit is totally counterproductive.
If a bank robber wants to avoid capture, do not help him remove the outfit he wore to the heist. Consequently, conservatives immediately should stop calling leftists “progressives.” If statists spurn the liberal label, staple it to their lapels.
Likewise, since data from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellites confirm that Earth’s average temperature stopped rising in 1997, liberals quit banging the “global warming” drum. Instead, they ring the “climate change” bell. This has the priceless advantage of encompassing all unusual weather. Three feet of snow in upstate New York over Memorial Day weekend? While this hardly sounds like “global warming,” liberals dub it “climate change.” Thus, the left argues, shutter the coal industry — its 91,000 workers be damned.
Again, too many on the right unthinkingly help discredited global warmers like President Obama by parroting the left’s “climate change” terminology. Hence, conservatives should drop “climate change.” Instead, challenge so-called “global warming.” Make environmentalists prove their previous contention — that Earth is warming, despite contradictory satellite observations, and not just changing climate. By definition, Earth does this constantly.
Democrats these days rarely defend food stamps. There is something drably welfare-state about that moniker. Instead, Mr. Obama and his fans now swoon for SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which is the same exact thing. However, SNAP sounds fun, light and breezy — like snapping one’s fingers. Here, too, Republicans now debate SNAP. Stop. America’s food stamp population has ballooned 47.5 percent under Mr. Obama, from 32.2 million in January 2009 to 47.5 million as of April. A snappy, new name only makes food stamps more appealing and tougher to curb.
Mr. Obama lately has promised to take “executive action” to “get around Congress,” when that pesky, old legislative branch foolishly obstructs his enlightened agenda. Executive action is good. It trumps stasis. At least Mr. Obama is doing something. Of course, an executive action is nothing other than an executive order. Yuck. Orders sound bossy and perhaps a touch authoritarian — like decrees. So, conservatives should avoid “executive action” and, instead, greet skeptically any and every “executive order” that Mr. Obama contemplates.
Likewise, rightists should address Obamacare, rather than a slowly disintegrating punchline called the Affordable Care Act.
It’s still “gun control,” especially when liberals sponsor “gun-safety legislation.”
Carbon dioxide helps plants thrive, as we humans exhale it. So, instead of attacking CO2, Mr. Obama now derides “carbon pollution.” This cleverly connotes charcoal dust falling from the skies.
Mr. Obama’s spendaholism remains a national crisis, even though he praises “investment.”
So when progressives oppose climate change and seek more investment in SNAP, Reaganites should reject such jargon. Instead, remind Americans that these are just liberals screaming about global warming and demanding more government spending on food stamps.
Deroy Murdock is a columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.