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A way with words


We've noted before the right-wingers' talent for seizing control of the political dialogue through repeated use of terms that are misleading when not entirely false. For example, their insistence on "death tax" instead of "inheritance tax," making it appear the tax is paid by everyone when it's really paid only by a tiny handful of the super-rich. They've converted the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into Obamacare, believing the substance of this progressive legislation less important than the identity of the person (black, smooth-talking) who signed it into law. They've recycled the old "class warfare" slogan so that now it means "any attempt to increase taxes on the wealthiest 10 percent of the population, regulate their financial transactions, or criticize their behavior."

John Powers has collected many of the rightists' favorite terms in an article in the Nov. 11 issue of The American Prospect. We recommend it highly. A few of our favorites:

"PUBLIC SECTOR UNIONS: A cabal defending the 'right' of sullen, inefficient, and overpaid government workers to drain the state's coffers, leading to higher taxes.

"RONALD REAGAN: The iconic hero who fought abortion, refused to raise taxes, and toppled communism through strength instead of negotiation. Not to be confused with Ronald Reagan, the 40th president of the United States, who did none of these things.

"THE FUTURE: The past."

Part of that once-and-future past the righties pine for is when only white males were allowed to vote, and only prosperous white males of a certain maturity truly welcome at the polls. Through their subsidiary, the Republican Party, they're moving the country back toward that exclusive era.

As they gain majorities in more and more state legislatures, Republican lawmakers are enacting more and more restrictions on voting. Until this year, only Indiana and Georgia required all voters to present photo identification. Five more states now have strict voter-identification laws and Republicans are seeking their enactment everywhere. A photo-ID bill sponsored by a Republican member cleared the Arkansas House of Representatives early this year but died in the Senate. Democrats still hold a slim majority in the Arkansas legislature. The bill will be back in 2013, and if the Republicans are in control, it will pass.

The record shows that these photo-ID laws do not expose voter fraud. What they do, what they're intended to do, is discourage voting by people who might be inclined to vote Democratic: minorities, the poor, the young, the elderly, those who move around a lot because they're not homeowners. These are the people most likely to lack a photo ID that would meet the Republican requirements. In Texas, a concealed-weapon permit will allow you to vote. A college ID will not. Guns for the many, votes for the few is the Republican ideal.

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