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How to Translate What a Politician Says

Politicians speak their own special language. We're here to translate it for you.


  • Step 1: Identify those "real Americans" When a candidate boasts of meeting 'real Americans,' it means they’ve been forced to go bowling and eat funnel cakes with people who earn less per month than they pay for a suit.
  • Step 2: Recognize the artful dodge Recognize a dodge when you hear it: 'I don’t answer hypotheticals' means 'I don’t have a clue what I’d do if that happened.'
  • TIP: When a candidate says, 'with all due respect,' they mean nothing of the sort.
  • Step 3: Read between the lines Read between the lines. A call to 'strengthen Social Security' usually means cutting benefits.
  • Step 4: Beware of the word "balance" Beware of the word 'balance,' as in 'we need to find balance.' That’s political-speak for 'In the interest of being elected, I’m trying to have it both ways.'
  • Step 5: Interpret "I'd consider that" When a politician running for office answers a policy question with 'That’s certainly something I’d look at,' it means 'There’s no way in hell that’s gonna happen, but I don’t want to alienate you by saying so.'
  • Step 6: Decipher "protect your freedom" Learn to decipher the phrase 'protect your freedom.' Coming out of the mouth of an elected official, it either means 'I’m going to trample on some civil rights,' or 'I may have to attack another country.' Or both.
  • FACT: Martin Van Buren, who spoke English and Dutch, is the only U.S. President to grow up bilingual.

You Will Need

  • An ear for pandering
  • A knowledge of political doubletalk and euphemisms

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