Friday, April 5, 2013

What Three Words Describe The Political Parties?

Every year, I get to recommendations for students. Sometimes the recommendation is a letter; other times, there's a form along with the letter. Most forms ask for three words to describe the students. The words are usually adjectives: intelligent, hard-working, curious or enthusiastic, empathetic, studious.

In politics, those three words would seem to be issues.  I can vaguely remember the 1972 election that trapped Senator McGovern in the "amnesty, abortion, and acid" trap. In 2008, candidate Obama got into trouble for paraphrasing Jim Inhofe's  "God, guns, and gays" campaign strategy to explain his troubles with rural voters.

The New York Times protestations to the contrary, it seems Republicans still run on that strategy.  In the U.S. Senate, "there are now 53 senators -- 51 Democrats and two Republicans -- who are on record supporting the right of same-sex couples to get legally married." The fact that only two Republican senators, even with the fig leaf of Rush Limbaugh's declaration that same-sex marriage is inevitable, makes it appear the issue still has salience among Republican voters, at least those of a certain age.

So what are the three issues that each party could use to frame itself positively and label its opposition in a way to guarantee defeat? Alliteration and assonance are helpful but optional.

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