Non-Partisan Guide to Political Terms

They Don’t Mean Much

I’ve seen a lot of key words bandied about by folks (and probably bots) on the left and right; these are usually in attempts to be pithy or dismissive of the other side, and almost always accompanied by a load of gas that doesn’t move the needle aside from irritating the people opposite and engaging the people on the same side. This is a brief discussion of a few of the words, as non-partisan as I can make it. I don’t want to talk politics; I just want to help people who don’t care understand what the words mean — or don’t. Not in any particular order:

Snowflake — originally, this meant someone who wanted to be unique, and their identity was just wrapped up with being unique. Now it simply seems to mean “person I disagree with who is motivated to respond to me.” Often combined with the word “triggered”, as in, “all these triggered snowflakes.” It’s dismissive and unhelpful bomb-throwing, and if you see me do this feel free to call me on it.

Triggered — an actual psychological term for people suffering from Post Traumatic Stress and other traumatic events, it now is just used to dismiss anyone from the other side who responds.

Bot — See above. While actual bots exist and do engage in political spamming, most bots are spam bots. It usually means “I can’t effectively respond to you, or I don’t want to.”

Wingnut — used to mean “someone on the far end of the right/left wing” — ie, the nut holding the end of the wing on. Now it mostly means “someone to the right/left of me.” I’ve seen fairly moderate folks called wingnuts.

Whataboutism — Originally, this referred to people whose only argument is to bring up something else — “Well what about…” Now, it is used by hypocrites hoping to avoid having to justify their hypocrisy, or anyone who doesn’t want to address an issue to dismiss it as “whataboutism.”

Virtue Signaling — Originally, this referred to someone who signalled their virtue on a topic they actually did no work/good for: similar to wearing a ribbon o bracelet without actually giving to the cause, or even giving it the time of day, just because it was the in-thing to do. Now, it’s often used any time someone takes a position the speaker disagrees with.

Alt Right — A loaded term. The definition of this term is source-dependent. From anyone to the left of center, Republican establishment, and neo-Nazis, this means neo-Nazis. From everyone else, it has a different definition depending on where they first heard it. A term I consider useless because of the variation in definitions. (It is easier to determine what is a catch in the NFL than to determine what alt-right means.)

Nothingburger — Something the speaker doesn’t care about. Mileage may vary on how little it actually matters; sometimes a nothingburger is very important indeed.

Words to ignore (and ignore the speakers of):

Anyone whose only argument is to misspell the name of their target in a creative way. This has been going on for a long time (referring to George W Bush as “Shrub”), and is from both sides (“Obummer”, “Drumpf”). Their opinion is likely poorly regurgitated garbage reminiscent of the bathroom stall wall in a nearly abandoned mall. Specifically, the J.C. Penney that has half the registers empty and ceiling tile debris on the floor.

See also: “Teabagger”, “libtard”, et cetera. These are merely meant to divide and dismiss, and often add zero to the conversation.

“Fully semi-automatic (rifle, gun, etc)” — There are no variations in the definition of semi-automatic: it is the bridge between single action (one cock/pump/other phallic word per shot fired) and automatic (“machine gun” — hold down the trigger and spray bullets from your “bullet hose”). Careful not to touch the “shoulder thing that goes up.”

“Gunsplain” — Somehow, explaining things to people has become offensive (see “mansplain”, a made-up bit of sexist garbage invented by someone unable to spell “condescending” well enough to google it). What I did above is apparently “gunsplaining.” These terms are only used by people who are ahead of us on the genetic road to Idiocracy, because what sort of Idiot doesn’t want to be corrected when they’re embarrassing themselves?