Political buzzwords are bizzing around the media and infiltrating public and private conversations everywhere. Most people have a general idea as to what these words and phrases mean, but interpretations vary on a wide-ranging scale based on inappropriate or vague usage…and usage with a particular motive.
Below are three of the — currently– most commonly used buzzwords.
Most accurate: Low information voters
Conservative media has recently adopted the term ‘low information voters’ into its lexicon to describe the general population’s lack of knowledge regarding current events and highly-charged political issues: i.e. the people who voted for Obama in 2012. It is currently a popular term that is quickly becoming over-used and tired. Nevertheless, it is an accurate term naming a difficult to understand phenomenon, and it has an interesting history.
First coined in 1991 by political scientist Samuel Popkin in his book The Reasoning Voter: Communication and Persuasion in Presidential Campaigns, ‘low information’ refers to voters who rely on irrelevant criteria, rather than information of substance, when selecting a presidential candidate. For instance: Voting for Obama because he has a really cool specialty beer made exclusively for his consumption or has made vague promises to provide ‘everyone’ with a cellphone.
Though conservatives have now adopted this term (at times ad nauseum) originally, it was a derogatory term used by liberals to refer to conservatives.
Most annoying: Double down
Why is everyone suddenly ‘doubling down’? And what does that really mean?
Double down has recently undergone a complete re-languaging in the political realm. Originally a gambling term from blackjack, it describes a strategy in which a player, confident of the strength of his hand, might choose to double his original bid. It’s about risk-taking, but it is often used incorrectly (or differently) by the media, leading to teeth-grinding irritation as this phrase quickly becomes a cliche:
“A popular boardroom buzzword for a couple of years, the term has spread its way through politics, corporate communications and the media. In early November, New York Congresswoman Yvette D. Clark (D-NY) invoked it, declaring that America needs to “double-down our efforts and bring the Haitian people some semblance of security.” A few days earlier, her colleague, Congressman Mark Schauer (D-MI), told an audience that America needs “to double down on education.”
Also known as a “heart attack in a wrapper,” what comes to mind for most people (that would largely be the low information voters–see above) is the KFC Double Down, a sandwich featuring two fried chicken breasts, two pieces of bacon, two melted slices of Monterey Jack and pepper jack cheese and a special KFC sauce — no bun.
Worth watching: Big Data
Perhaps the ‘creepiest buzzword’ of 2012, ‘big data’ is relatively fresh and carries a significant import as it relates to anyone utilizing the Internet.
Big data refers to the software analytic programs that process information from all of our Internet searches, blogs, social media interactions (yep, Facebook and Twitter, etc.), online purchases, and cell phones, etc. These programs threaten our personal privacy, yet we have virtually no control over this gathering and dissemination of information.
The programs that process ‘big data’ are often referred to as ‘stalker apps,’ and they are EVERYWHERE, tracking our communications, purchases, our travel, and our physical location.
These apps even helped shape the 2012 campaign. Voter data and analytics gathered through ‘big data’ apps supposedly helped Obama overcome the Republicans’ financial leads in reaching voters.
Just last March the Justice Department authorized agencies to retain for five years the personal data of ALL people — even those who are not suspected of terrorism.
That’s all of us, folks. Period.
For a list of more buzzwords, see Decoding the Political Buzzwords of 2012.