10 Phrases Progressives Need To Ditch (And What We Can Say Instead)
(1). Big Business: (Also referred to as: Corporate America; Multinationals; Corporate Interests) When we use any of these words, we automatically sound pie-in-the-sky liberal. People think, “what’s wrong with that?” After all, they’d like their own businesses to get “big” and have no negative associations with the words “corporate” or “multinational” — which actually sound kind of exciting and worldly. Instead, try: Unelected Government. This puts them in their proper context as unelected entities with unprecedented powers, whose actions have immense impact on our lives, and which we are powerless to hold accountable.
(2). Entitlements: I keep hearing reporters from National Public Radio and other liberal news outlets use the word “entitlements” and it makes me froth at the mouth. They’re not “entitlements” — which sounds like something a bunch of spoiled, lazy, undeserving people irrationally think they should get for nothing. Instead, try: Earned Benefits. This term not only sounds better for the progressive cause, it’s also more accurate. Programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Unemployment are all forms of insurance that we pay into all of our working lives — via a percentage of our income — and then collect from when the time comes.
(3). Free Market Capitalism: (Also referred to as: Capitalism, Free markets, and Supply-side economics) Like “fascism” and “communism,” “free market capitalism” is a 20th-century utopian ideal that has amply been proven an unworkable failure, and damaging to society. Instead, try: Socialized Risk, Privatized Profits. This best describes the dramatically failed experiment in unfettered capitalism, as practiced in the late 20th century and early aughts.
(4). Government Spending: (Also referred to as: Taxes, Burden, and Inconvenient) Conservatives talk about “government spending” like it’s this awful thing, but the fact is, communities across America benefit from U.S. tax dollars, especially supposedly anti-government red states, which receive way more federal tax money than they contribute. Instead, try: Investing in America. Because, that’s what our federal tax dollars do. They invest in education and infrastructure that wouldn’t prove profitable for businesses, but which still benefit society in the long-run.
(5). Gun Control: Yikes! That sounds like you want to control people, and all those “freedom loving” folks who want to bully gays and people of color into staying in their place will use that word against you. Instead, try: Gun Safety. It sounds so nice, non-coercive, and reasonable … plus, it’s true. Most of us aren’t against guns, we just want them used safely.
(6). Illegal Aliens: It’s easy to support draconian laws against people we refer to by such a scary and impersonal term as “illegal aliens.” It’s way harder to act against our neighbors, friends, the families of our children’s classmates, or the nice lady who sells those plump, fragrant tamales on the corner. Plus … are they really “illegal?” If Big Business … Ooops … I mean “Unelected Government” … didn’t want them here — for their easily exploited low-cost skilled labor — they’d be gone. Instead, try: Undocumented citizens. Why not? They already do much of what we officially-recognized U.S. citizens do, plus they’re having more kids than we Anglos are. Seems like immigration provides an ideal way for us to avoid the demographics crisis hitting Western Europe and Japan.
(7). Pro-life: Ugh. They are NOT pro-life. Once a child takes its first breath, these supposed conservative “pro-lifers” couldn’t care less about the quality of life for the child or mother. Let’s call them by their true name for once. Instead, try: Anti-choice. Because, that’s what they really are about. They don’t care about “life.” They only seek to deny choices to women. Not just the choice of whether or not to have a child, but whether a woman can — like a man — embrace her full sexuality without having to worry about pregnancy, and whether she can make related choices about her body, her career, and when to have children, as men always have.
(8). Right-to-work: Who came up with the phrase “right-to-work” ANYway? It’s total B.S. and doesn’t give you the right to do anything, unless you want to reject unions and earn less money than you would in a pro-union shop. In “right-to-work” states, non-union workers in union shops can decline paying union dues. Which sounds fair, but is not, because union shops pay better wages to their employees, and hence should receive dues accordingly. Instead, try: Anti-union: It’s far more accurate, and — as unions increasingly gain favor — will make conservatives look bad. Because “right-to-work” really does mean: Right to choose amongst sucky wages and benefits packages.
(9). The Environment: Whenever anyone talks about “the environment,” they sound annoyingly self-righteous, as if lecturing people with dubious hygiene practices. Unfortunately, you can’t count on ordinary people to care about “the environment.” Instead, try: Shared resources. That makes way more sense. We may not care about some factory dumping crap into the ocean, but we dang-well care about our neighbors up the river not properly maintaining their septic tank.
(10). Welfare: When conservatives talk about “welfare,” they make it sound like this pit people wallow in forever, rather than a source of help that’s available when we need it – and that we pay for through our taxes. The majority of us need help at one time or another. Instead, try: Social safety net: When people think of a safety net, they think of a protection of last-resort, and one that they can instantly bounce out of like circus acrobats.
- [quote](7). Pro-life: Ugh. They are NOT pro-life. Once a child takes its first breath, these supposed conservative “pro-lifers” couldn’t care less about the quality of life for the child or mother.
Call them "pro-fetus."
- I agree with most of these.
- 1) Big business = Unelected Government
2) Entitlements = Earned Benefits
3) Capitalism = Socialized Risk/Privatized Profit
4) Government Spending = Investing in America
5) Gun Control = Gun Safety
6) Illegal Aliens = Undocumented Citizens
7) Pro-life = Anti-choice
8) Right-to-work = Anti-union
9) The Environment = Shared Resources
10) Welfare = Social Safety Net
- WASHINGTON — A small group of immigration agents is suing the Obama administration, saying that the agents should not be required to implement a program to grant work permits and halt the deportation of some young illegal immigrants.
The lawsuit alleges that the program, as well as directives issued last year that require U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers to use broader discretion in immigration cases, violates a 1996 federal law that requires federal agents to put into deportation proceedings those who entered the country unlawfully.
- #11: Free Trade - say Slave Trade instead
- [quote] Seems like immigration provides an ideal way for us to avoid the demographics crisis hitting Western Europe.
Because we'd hate to have the robust economic growth of Germany or the teeny debt of the Scandinavian countries (read the Economist's special report from three weeks ago).
Instead let's pack as many uneducated, illegal workers into the US and keep the educated, legal ones out: not only does it undermine our minimum wage, it helps us compete in our race to the bottom with those two other over-populated, ecological disaster slave states--China and India.
- R3 is 100% correct
- This is good, but we can't work on the revolution tonight. Everyone is watching the Oscars (or that show on AMC).
- pro life means no killing of an unborn baby, hence pro life.
only pro lifer here appparently, that is ok, unlike U I won't go to Hell...
- That would be Anti-Choice. You're going to hell for playing judge, anyway.
- #12 Gay Rights. It is NOT gay rights. It is HUMAN RIGHTS or EQUAL RIGHTS. Using the term, Gay Rights makes it sound like we are asking for special rights, and the rethugs like to remind us of that.
- at least I believe in not killing babies, born or unborn.
- This thread is SO PC commie
- [quote]pro life means no killing of an unborn baby, hence pro life.
great if you are, are you supporting the unwanted born child too? the health of the mother? are you educating the young prospective mothers who are mistakenly getting pregnant?
- just asking
- Then R13, we will deposit them all on your doorstep and you can raise them. No government funds, though, for it.
- Good response
- Thank you. The use of "entitlements" in the so-called liberal media drives me up the wall.
- Anti-abortion people don't give a shit about the fetus. They SAY they do, but it's clear from their words and actions that their only goal is to control women's sexuality. It's about misogyny, not "life".
- You're wrong, R14, and quite ignorant of history.
What's proposed in the OP is exactly what I have argued since the late 70s. Conservatives, Republicans, religious fundies, and other right- wing groups have made their fringe causes seem All-American by redefining terms and relabeling their negatives, thus turning them into positives with the majority of Americans.
Also, liberals, black leaders, union leaders, the Democratic Party, and other allied factions allowed the right wing and the media to redefine them. Those new labels have stuck like crazy.
We cannot succeed in marginalizing the anti-people Republicans until we acknowledge the problem and work together to take our movements back. This time, WE define THEM.
We need a liberal Frank Luntz. And if we find one, we need to stop being an unherdable group of cats and move together on this issue.
- OP ignores the fact that everyone on the progressive side has noted the power of labelling and tried repeatedly to change these without success.
It's all about the media's ability to squash real debate and the media's existence on only one side of the political spectrum, a devastating conservative political correctness infecting all of the major media outlets.
- [quote]What's proposed in the OP is exactly what I have argued since the late 70s. Conservatives, Republicans, religious fundies, and other right- wing groups have made their fringe causes seem All-American by redefining terms and relabeling their negatives, thus turning them into positives with the majority of Americans.
And today they are going for the ultimate re-definition. They are trying to reterm the Democratic Party the "Democrat" Party. One word sounds noble and patriotic and the replacement sounds derogatory.
- Illegals,which is what they fucking are, have totally ruined Southern California. The rest of the country will follow California if something isn't done about them. They lower wages, take jobs from our citizens(mostly jobs that Blacks could have) refuse to learn English,and simply drain public resources (which they are on permanently) while pumping out anchor babies. L.A. fifty years ago was a nice place, now it's a third world nightmare.
- And what does that little tirade have to do with Democratic labeling?
- That list has a concern-trolly smell about it. Liberals already avoid a lot of those labels (e.g. "pro-life" and "illegal alien") and others don't poll badly for the liberal side (e.g. most regular people do have a negative reaction to "big business"). And as someone above said, liberals are already pretty aware of labeling. Insofar as this is about teaching "liberals" something, it's kind of directed at a straw man.
- Words smerds. Calling someone "Developmentally Disabled" doesn't change the fact that they're Mentally Retarded.
- So it makes no difference whether I call you moron or intellectually challenged?
- [quote]Illegals,which is what they fucking are, have totally ruined Southern California.
I suggest that you move then.
- they are in fact two different things, R29