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Rhetoric, Schmetoric

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illustration by Deanna StaffoFor my money, nothing says election year quite like an attack ad. Yet I hear people say all the time that they’re sick and tired of the adolescent sloganeering and character assassinations. (OK, so it’s me listening to myself rather than actually hearing it from “people,” but still…)
I’ve worked up a pocket dictionary to help everyone understand what I believe is perhaps the greatest event on the social calendar (with the possible exception of a strip mall carnival on a weekend).

CANDIDATE
A combination of Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne and Yoda who promises to change the way things are done in Washington, though Washington likes things just the way they are, thus overlooks the fact that the candidate got to be a candidate by dealing with Washington just the way it is.

TWEEDLEDEE AND TWEEDLEDUM
Names used to distinguish the candidates from each other.

WASHINGTON, D.C.
A buzzing metropolis that is changing all the time, though never for the better.

CAMPAIGN
An excruciating, year-long exercise of self-revelation and finger pointing that distinguishes Tweedledee and Tweedledum.

CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS
Sums of money, approaching the gross national product of most countries, used to ensure that promises to the people will not be kept.

DEBATE
Similar to a playground of bratty, name-calling children, it helps to diminish the differences between Tweedledee and Tweedledum.

PUNDITS
People you would normally avoid sitting next to in a bar and who will ceaselessly explain to you the intricacies of the blatantly obvious, the painfully apparent and the plainly seen.

NEGATIVE AD
A form of alchemy believed to turn bare-faced lies into golden truths.

BATTLEGROUND STATE
Usually a place known only for the number of strip mall carnivals held on weekends, where the network affiliates replace regular programming with non-stop campaign ads.

ELECTION DAY
A truly inspiring day of national unity when 100 million people simultaneously play Eenie Meanie Miney Moe.

EXIT POLL
A predictive tool whose great precision makes one wonder what voting machines are hooked up to, if anything.

ELECTORAL COLLEGE
The only college without a football team, it uses the principles of the Bowl Championship Series to determine the leader of the Free World, especially when voters elect someone else.

VICTORY SPEECH
In which the winning candidate confesses that everything said about the opponent during the campaign was “just kidding around” and that the party must unify now behind Tweedledee. (Or was it Tweedledum?)

RUNNING MATE
Someone the victorious candidate would never want to sit next to in a bar, but who hails from a state famous for its strip mall carnivals, which is now viewed as critical to “electoral math.”

ELECTORAL MATH
A method of calculation in which one man, one vote doesn’t have to add up. (See electoral college.)

ELECTIVE OFFICE
Where victorious candidates disappear to in order to begin raising money for their re-elections.

RE-ELECTION
An affirmation of the belief that you can fool all of the people all of the time.

Reid Champagne’s senior thesis, “How to Stay Awake During an Election Cycle,” has been donated to the Library of Congress for use as a doorstop.

 

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