Johnson City Press: Dictionaries and the true definitions of politics

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Dictionaries and the true definitions of politics

Larry French • Dec 27, 2018 at 7:15 AM

I’ve always said, “There’s nothing like a good dictionary to help substantiate people’s ignorance.” Especially, when it goes against their inability to comprehend cynical definitions and sarcastic wit.

Take for example, Ambrose Bierce’s, “The Devil’s Dictionary.”

In his dictionary, Bierce defines politics as, “A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.”

To understand, however, the actual intent behind Bierce’s definitions, let’s analyze its complete meaning.

Masquerading is roughly defined as “one who moves about under false pretenses,” while a “contest of principles”—in the political sense—could be defined as, no matter the outcome of the contest, politicians will observe their own self-governing rules of conduct for their own personal gains and benefits while telling their constituents to, “Buzz off.”

Undoubtedly, some politicians subscribe to their own religion of self-gratification, too.

In other words, politicians—whether elected or appointed—will be loyal to one another and disregard their own rules because in the end, it’s all about them. They consider themselves gods, while voters have simply become vexatious sinners.

In the grand political scheme, that grand masked ball, we’re merely extras in Verdi’s opera.

Remember though, even if politicians don’t know the difference between shoes and Shinola, they still claim to have our best interests at heart. That’s why they’re “masquerading” as politicians.

Of course, we already know the majority of politicians have no principles; however, when compared to some politicians of yesteryear this fact is indisputable.

President Harry S. Truman said, “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”

This of course, explains why nothing ever gets done in Washington these days. No one takes responsibility for their mistakes, but yet, everyone wants a piece of that personal gains pie. It’s called “masquerading” in politics.

Bierce, however, defines those elected “masquerading” do-nothing politicians as the “Opposition.” To wit: “The party that prevents the Government from running amuck by hamstringing it.”

In this case, I would argue—even though there’s actually no argument here—it’s the party of Nancy and Chuck and their continuous “hamstringing” of the government which prevents anything from ever moving forward.

Truman, a Democrat, also said, “Men make history, and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.”

Perhaps then, Nancy and Chuck should “seize the opportunity” by becoming “skillful leaders” and finding a way to work with President Trump instead of poopooing every idea he has.

The president, however, doesn’t rely on alternative ideas, much like our 34th President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, a Republican, who had this plan when it came to governing. “I have one yardstick,” he said, “by which I test every major problem—and that yardstick is: Is it good for America?”

Eisenhower’s question sound familiar? “Is it good for America?”

Nothing in his plan asked, “Is it good for Canada, Mexico, France, Italy, England or Germany?” No. It was all about putting America’s interest ahead of the rest of the world, which is exactly what President Trump continues to do.

Furthermore, if you insist on calling the president names, which many of you do, then why not give nationalist and patriot a balanced and fair approach? By definition, it’s all about putting this nation’s interests first.

However, with an overabundance of obstructionists in Congress—politicians “masquerading” as political marauders—who continue to criticize the president for referring to himself as a nationalist, it would be in everyone’s best interest to actually understand the definition of the two words.

And, I’m not using Bierce’s dictionary either, but rather the Oxford English dictionary.

Nationalist: “A person who strongly identifies with their own nation and vigorously supports its interests.”

Patriot: “A person who vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against enemies or detractors.”

And, to conclude this educational lesson, which further substantiates people’s overall ignorance, the synonym for a patriot is a nationalist.

But yet, the dictionary defines an anti-nationalist as “One who is opposed to one's own nation.”

Today, there are simply too many politicians opposing the interest of our country.

With the mid-term elections finally settled and we prepare for the 2020 elections, it’s time for this political masked ball to stop. Bring the curtain down. The opera has ended. Tell those never-Trumpers and Left-Wing Progressive Democratic Socialists (LWPDS) such as Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who think the answer to every issue is entitlement for all to “Stop their squawking.” No free healthcare, no free college and no open borders.

Otherwise, the “masquerading” will continue, and it will be as Plato said, “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”

Or, in a Bierce-like satirical paraphrase, “We will end up being governed by ‘masquerading’ ignoramuses.”

Larry French lives in Butler. He is a member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, the Society of Professional Journalists and teaches composition and literature at East Tennessee State University. You may reach him at [email protected]

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