Let’s define some terms, by definition and contemporary implication. With each word or phrase, I’ll give at least part of its dictionary definition (according to dictionary.com), followed by a little commentary on what the word means in the here and now.
Politics — “a treatise (4th century B.C.) by Aristotle, dealing with the structure, organization and administration of the state, especially the city-state as known in ancient Greece.” Today, it’s a dirty word spoken in hushed tones in polite company, in loud voices in echo chambers for like-minded thinkers, and marketed through yard signs.
Liberal — “favorable to progress or reform, as in political or religious affairs.” To conservatives, they’re the domestic enemies of our nation.
Conservative — “disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change.” To liberals, they’re Neanderthals.
(In the days ahead, we’ll see a flip-flop of these definitions, as liberals fight to preserve the progress made during the Obama years and conservatives bring in a new political order that they think will return us to their version of progress.
Libertarian — “a person who advocates liberty, especially with regard to thought or conduct.” Seems to be an antiquated sentiment these days, since conservatives and liberals are both seeking more government in our lives rather than less.
Green — “of the color of growing foliage, between yellow and blue in the spectrum; a political party…” For liberals, it means environmentalism. To conservatives, it’s nothing of the sort; instead, it’s what makes the world go ‘round.
Moderates — “kept or keeping within reasonable or proper limits; not extreme, excessive, or intense.” In political terms, it’s the silenced majority of Americans.
Republican Party — “one of the two major political parties in the U.S.; originated 1854-56.” A party so far removed from its roots that it’s ridiculous to call it “the party of Lincoln” anymore. A month ago it was falling apart, but now it’s taking full control of the federal government.
Democratic Party — “one of the two major political parties in the U.S., founded in 1828.” A joke as the populist “party of Jackson,” as it self-destructed by nominating a status quo candidate in a midst of demands for change.
Lesser of two evils — “The somewhat less unpleasant of two poor choices.” Or, on Nov. 8, most Americans’ choice for president.
Pop culture — “cultural activities or commercial products reflecting, suited to, or aimed at the tastes of the general masses of people.” Now it’s where politics and entertainment intersect, and has been personified most recent in the man Donald Trump.
Thanksgiving — “a day set apart for giving thanks to God.” Now it’s little more than a day off for overeating and preparing next-day shopping excesses.
Black Friday — “the day after Thanksgiving, one of the busiest shopping days because of discounts offered by retailers.” It’s a day for people to purchase more to be thankful for, since God’s blessings are all on sale that day.
Christmas, Xmas — “the annual festival of the Christian church commemorating the birth of Jesus: celebrated on Dec. 25 and now generally observed as a legal holiday and an occasion for exchanging gifts;” while “the abbreviation ‘Xmas’ for Christmas dates from the mid 16th century. The X is the Greek letter Chi, the initial letter in the word Chrīstos, or Christ.” So they really mean the same thing, hyper-sensitized.
Then there are phrases that haven’t made it into this dictionary yet. Here’s a couple:
Red states-Blue states—On an electoral map, the red states go Republican, the blue states Democratic, which is actually misleading, since our political differences are stark, not on a state-by-state basis but in an urban vs. rural landscape.
Fake news—A social media phenomenon in which false reports are circulated without accountability, since the blame for such false information will go to a vague monolith that people tend to simply call “the media.”
And last but not least, New Mexico—The Land of Enchantment (or entrapment, depending on your disposition) where I’ll soon be returning after a Thanksgiving trip to the heart of Trump country, aka The South. Life is still good here, but it’ll be good to get back home. See you all soon!
Tom McDonald is editor of the New Mexico Community News Exchange and editor of the Roswell Daily Record. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.