Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in GOP language factories and fever swamps, Nov. 7-21, 2018.

inherently racist

rhetorical claim: aggrieved victimhood poses from trouble-makers like Cory Booker and Kamala Harris only shows that their “hands up” stance is inherently racist, since they assume that all whites are themselves racist.

rhetorical effect: concocts a fake narrative about a non-racist past to fill in the present Promotes ahistoricism and anti-egalatarianism, all in the name of equality and equal treatment under the law. Leads to benighted racism, justifications for violence, and ahistorical erasures. Creates a racial oligarchy.Widens the gap between the representation of events and their reality. In the long run, a form of paranoid racism toward black plots that will criminalize blackness. Besides, victims of racism should not be expected to eradicate it. Makes it impossible to see racism as a structural problem, unless of course you consider blacks inherently more violent and criminal than whites. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t blame blacks for the violence, prejudice and hatred they face.


stealing an election

rhetorical claim: Dems failed in their attempts to steal elections in Georgia and Florida.

rhetorical effect: just counting ballots is now equated with “stealing” votes. How soon before voting itself is called fraudulent? (Maybe the 2020 election?) Even in triumph,¬† the Dems are accused of having only a ‘”very, very narrow victory.” “Winning” to Trump only means the other side is unhappy with the outcome–he cannot conceive of a win-win situation.


the other side

rhetorical claim: Trump wonders when Whitaker’s Justice Dept. will get around to appointing a Special Counsel to investigate the other side–Hillary and Comey.

rhetorical effect: in true “whataboutism,” makes it appear that there is indeed another side to the Trump-Russia story even though there is no “other side”, just as there was no “other side” to the anti-Clinton Benghazi false narrative. Trump’s repeated reference to “the other side” shows he sees politics as a zero sum game with only winners and losers, rendering¬† compromise impossible. This “winner take all” approach (the equivalent of Sherman’s”total war”) eventually will discredit and silence all non-supporters. The rhetorical creation of external and internal enemies, who are responsible for all the crisis within the state, is nothing more than scapegoating to protect the rich and offer no real protection for the very people he is claiming to protect. Order this means no freedom, and progress means no equality.


the people’s President

rhetorical claim: Donald Trump is the people’s President.

rhetorical effect: justifies fascist political conduct and abuse, not just ideological differences. Justifies what is, at best, a highly selective populism, while not really addressing the root causes of middle class social frustration. Actually uses the “populism” branding to justify ever-greater capital accumulation among the upper classes and corporations.


Trump’s not responsible

rhetorical claim: Trump was not responsible for the GOP’s midterm losses.

rhetorical effect: Trump denies responsibility for his promotion of irresponsibility.


letting Trump be Trump

rhetorical claim: letting Trump be Trump has lead to the most successful Presidency in recent history.

rhetorical effect: the personification of the Presidency, leading to the spectacularization of the persona of the President. Breaks all boundaries between the personal and the public space as Trump becomes the only spokesperson and embodiment of the state.


rational Mueller oversight

rhetorical claim: with the head of Justice no longer recused, we can finally expect rational oversight of the runaway Mueller witch-hunt.

rhetorical effect: “rational oversight” means the closing off of investigative avenues.