It’s Time to Play “Political Catchphrase Bingo”!

Ah, you who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! (The Prophet Isaiah 5:20)

So the writ has dropped and the Canadian federal election is officially on. Are you ready to play Political Catchphrase Bingo? Let’s begin a list of problematic clichés we’ll need to be spotting during the campaign.

Middle Class  This term implies that there are only two classes in Canada, since almost no rich people in Canada, except for Conrad Black, want to admit that they’re rich. (Ask them and they’ll say they’re merely “comfortable” and “don’t own a plane.”)

It also implies that somehow the middle class deserves politicians’ intentions more than do people in the other class, the poor. Perhaps that’s because middle-class life is so hard in Canada, compared with, say, previous generations or the rest of the planet. (Excuse me while I pause the Blu-Ray playing on my 60” middle-class TV with 7.1 surround sound that I got at Best Buy last month.)

Or perhaps that’s because poor Canadians are so abundantly provided for that they aren’t actually…poor. Yes. That’s why. So now politicians can focus on the wellspring of power, the majority of voters who see themselves as “middle class.”

Social Conservatives  These are the loathsome folk who vote Conservative, or maybe now PPC, in hopes of…well, of what? Of putting women back in the kitchen? Of requiring businesses to close on Sundays? Of making schoolchildren recite the Lord’s Prayer every morning?

There aren’t many of those folk in Canada. But “social conservatives” in fact is code language for “prolifers”—whom opponents try all they can to link to The Handmaid’s Tale. Prolifers, alas, are rather at sea just now, having discovered that Andrew Scheer is just the Catholic version of Stephen Harper: prolife enough to get nominated, but not prolife enough to actually legislate—or come within a kilometre of legislating—about abortion.

Community  Canada is a community of communities, so it’s sometimes said. But sometimes a putative community is nothing of the sort: not an actual society that links people of common identity and concern in a single conversation, structure, and agenda. Sometimes a “community” is just a faux-polite way of lumping all “those people” together—like someone who refers to “the Sikh community” or “the Jewish community” or “the Chinese community” but who isn’t herself actually Sikh, Jewish, or Chinese. (If she were, she’d have a clue about how diverse and even fractious those “communities” are.)

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