If you follow North Carolina politics, you’ll see the same words coming up again and again.

Some of them are the common, everyday tropes of campaigns. But some words and phrases, in particular, have really gotten legs in 2018. Many of them are used — and over-used — on both sides of the aisle.

Here are some of the more common ones and what they mean.

1) Rigged

For North Carolina political figures, the word “rigged” has come to mean any sort of perceived systemic unfairness against their cause, candidate, party or message.

On the left, Democrats most often use this word to describe gerrymandering in the General Assembly redistricting process. To them, the Republican supermajority is evidence of a “rigged” system.

But it’s since taken on a broader meaning, and now is a catch-all term for anything Republicans do in government deemed nefarious. Chris Anglin described a law seeking to take the Republican designation from his name in the N.C. Supreme Court race as an attempt to “rig the election”.  This tweet describes proposed constitutional amendments as an attempt to “rig our government.”

Of course, the right has also taken to using this word, perhaps inspired by President Donald Trump. Republicans in North Carolina have described some reporting from mainstream media outlets as rigging the system against them, as well as schemes to commit voter fraud.

2) Deceptive

“Deceptive” is a term that refers to a legal maneuver that appears positive on the surface but  Generally, “deceptive” actions are technically legal, but with an insinuation that they are underhanded.

This word is related to “rigged,” but a slightly different concept. A Republican might do something “deceptive” in order to rig the system, for example.

You’ll often hear the word “misleading” used in a similar concept. But “deceptive” has taken on a life of its own. The General Assembly had a “Deception Session” earlier this year to write “deceptive” constitutional amendment proposals.

Now Republicans are starting to use this word as well. Former Gov. Pat McCrory says an ad that used his words in opposing some “deceptive” constitutional amendments is “deceptive” itself. The deception intensifies!

Former Gov. Pat McCrory. Photo by NCDOT

3) Suppression

This word is most often used in the context of “voter suppression.” This refers to actions intended to prevent or discourage specific groups of people from voting.

Democrats have used this word to describe the proposal to put a voter ID requirement in the state constitution and the law that increases the total number of early voting hours but cuts down on the number of locations.

Republicans have countered by saying that Gov. Roy Cooper’s repeated lawsuits challenging constitutional amendment proposals are suppressing the state’s right to vote on them.

4) Mob rule

This phrase refers to a group of people using public pressure to accomplish a goal outside of the traditional regulatory or legal framework. This can be physical, as in a protest, or digital, as in a flood of Twitter and Facebook comments.

Republicans commonly used the term “mob rule” after the Silent Sam Confederate statue was torn down at UNC-Chapel Hill.

This one hasn’t really made its way into usage on the left, but you will occasionally hear Democrats describe the Republican-led General Assembly as “mob rule.”

Photo by Yellowspacehopper at English Wikipedia (Creative Commons).

5) Common sense

This term is used when politicians on both sides of the aisle want to appeal to the broad moderate, centrist portion of the electorate.

Gov. Roy Cooper and Democratic Sen. Jay Chaudhuri have called for “common sense” gun control laws. Republicans have described their education policies and voter ID and income tax cap amendments as “common sense,” as well.

It’s also a compliment you can pay someone. Congressional candidate Dan McCready called Congressman Seth Moulton a “common sense leader” after Moulton endorsed him. Earlier, Sen. Jeff Tarte called Sen. Joel Ford a “common sense elected official” after Ford appeared in a campaign ad for him. Ford came right back and called Tarte a “common sense champion of solutions.”

Sen. Jeff Tarte. Photo via Facebook.

6) Separation of powers

This constitutional phrase refers to the different roles and essential tension between the three branches of government. This comes up whenever one political party believes their opponents are usurping a particular branch’s role.

Democrats have used “separation of powers” as a rallying cry as the General Assembly has steadily reduced the power of the governor. Gov. Roy Cooper uses it in just about every lawsuit challenging such laws.

And Republicans have used the phrase to decry judicial rulings that undo some of the General Assembly’s laws.

The Wake County Courthouse via Flickr (Creative Commons).

7) Enthusiasm

Get ready to hear this one even more between now and November. “Enthusiasm” refers to how motivated a particular demographic or base is to get out and vote. This can be driven by either a politician or issue that they love or hate. Highly enthusiastic voters will turn out in greater numbers.

You need “enthusiastic” voters to create a “wave” election. We’ll see if that’s what North Carolina gets this fall.


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