Were George Orwell alive today, he would, once again, warn of the dangers of the deliberate distortion of language for political gain. Take for example the honorable word “liberal.” It used to mean one who advocated personal liberty. Now it means a proponent of statism — the antithesis of personal liberty.
And conservative? “Conservatives” used to believe in conservation of the eternal verities, and not merely the maintenance of their own influential ascendancy and protection of their cushy sinecure.
Conservatives are sometimes referred to as “classical liberals.” They are often confused with Libertarians, but Libertarians are quick to make a separation.
A “moderate” used to mean someone who has no set ideology — a mediator; a pragmatist. Now, it indicates someone who plays both sides against the middle — essentially, an ingratiating wuss who puts political salvation ahead of principle. As one U.S. Congressman said about moderates, “The only thing you find in the middle of the road is yellow lines and dead skunks.” George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans) described one of the breed more genteelly in her classic Middlemarch as “of acquiescent temper, miscellaneous opinions, and uncertain vote.”
And the phrase, today, that should elicit uproarious laughter from anyone who is not brain-dead from watching “reality shows”: “The Loyal Opposition.” Truly a canard of worms!
But, best of all, “politician.” Some persons have the idea that politicians are elected to do what we want them to do. Unh uh! Not in a Constitutional Republic. In a Constitutional Republic the goal is to elect honorable women and men to do what is best for the nation (a.k.a. “body”) as a whole — not for a cabal of special interests who finagle sweetheart deals and produce pork sausage. Alas, in America today, we have too many “politicasters”…contemptible and petty politicians.
The French have a phrase for the consequences — intended and unintended — of politics: “Politique de pire,” the policy of making things worse. So, if your politicians are open, honest, and principled defenders of the Constitution, count yourself fortunate. If they’re not? Blame yourself.
In all fairness I must admit that not all politicians are dishonorable. There is honor, it has been said, among persons in even the oldest of professions.
© Frank Maguire