Radical unelected bureaucrats. Deep state. Socialism. Loser teachers. But that’s only the short list of epithets.
Nattering nabobs of negativism. Remember that one? More on that later.
When it comes to hurling slime, Republicans are masters of the art of dousing people with rhetorical radioactivity.
Their favorite target: public employees.
As we enter into the fourth and what should be the final year of the most corrupt and incompetent administration in the history of the Republic, it is clear that this administration has given new meaning to the acronym GOP.
In earlier iterations, it was the Grand Old Party, then the Great Oil Party, and with a series of massive tax cuts for the wealthy, it became the Great Oligarch Party. And when a failed reality show host and compromised con artist appeared on the scene, it morphed into the Government of Putin.
Which it remains. But the Republican Party and its leadership, students of wordsmith Frank (“death tax” and “death panels”) Luntz has also added yet another meaning to its trademark GOP acronym:
Glorifier Of Pejoratives.
There is no doubt that the Republican Party has long detested those who work in the public sector. The usual pejoratives directed at government employees by GOPers were usually such hackneyed terms as union thugs, careerists, and bureaucrats. That was then.
Today, the pejoratives Republicans fire at public employees run the gamut of insulting and inflammatory language. In October, for example, the White House combined three demeaning words into one phrase when it referred to career State Department employees as “radical unelected bureaucrats.”
Note that the epithet was aimed at Ambassadors Bill Taylor, Mike McKinley, Marie Yovanovitch, and Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent, patriots all and skilled representatives of this nation in serving overseas in various diplomatic posts. Their only “crime” was in responding to their civic duty by testifying before the House as part of the impeachment proceedings.
Other observers of Republican misbehavior have a pointed response to their use of pejoratives aimed at public employees. A recent article in the Washington Post framed the GOP verbal abuse in clear terms.
That term presents an “enormous” problem because it “carries a lot of negative weight,” said Max Stier, president and chief executive of the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit organization focusing on improving the federal government. “Use of the word bureaucrat is the same thing as calling a doctor a quack or a lawyer an ambulance chaser.
One term not found in the Republican report is “public servant.” Rather than viewing the diplomats, who testified during two weeks of House Intelligence Committee impeachment hearings two months ago as nonpartisan fact witnesses, the Republican report casts them as part of a jealous crew determined to get Trump.”
When Republicans hurl the bureaucrat epithet, they are now also using a term that they’ve crafted to be synonymous with what they might characterize as something on the order of faceless careerist liberal socialist deep state losers.
Deep state. Losers.
Hmmm. I think that the late Senator Joe McCarthy as well as his current acolyte, Ohio State Senator Andrew Brenner, late of ECOT fame, would love to string that right-wing turn of phrase together on his social media sites, if he hasn’t done so already. (Let’s see how long it takes Brenner to copy and paste it.)
Yes, the deep state, a term which has Turkish origins, is now a phrase that the right frequently uses as a synonym for those they like to label as unelected bureaucrats. Devin Nunes, formerly the House Intelligence Committee chair, is a fitting example. This is what the Los Angeles Times wrote about people like Nunes who throw around the deep state term to demean career civil servants:
Though executive branch employees are charged with implementing the policies set by our president, who is elected and responsible to the American people, elements of the civil service have decided that they, not the president, are really in charge.” Nunes was echoing a list of Republican talking points that referred to “unelected and anonymous bureaucrats” who disagreed with Trump’s decisions.
That accusation is grossly unfair, and it betrays Nunes’ warped view of what it means to be a public servant.
I’ll second that. And with what we’ve learned about Nunes in the last few days, he will never be mistaken for a public servant.
While many take umbrage over Republicans’ persistent penchant for pejoratives such as bureaucrats and deep state types, it was the use of one over-the-top descriptor that shed light on how the GOP, now newly christened as the Glorifier of Pejoratives, really feels about certain public employees:
In a speech in El Paso early last year, Donald Trump Jr. made a reference to “loser teachers” who are “trying to sell you on socialism from birth.” While many observers feel that Trump Jr. is challenged in many ways, he did manage a trifecta in cramming loser, teachers, and socialism in the same sentence.
But then consider who has mentored him all these years.
Teachers, who have grown used to being disparaged by right-wing politicians, nevertheless were outraged by Junior’s assault, as was this Illinois educator:
“Loser teachers? Loser teachers! LOSER TEACHERS!” I yelled at the television, careful, though, not to awaken my sleeping preschool-age son and 1st grade daughter in the next room. I watched the clip again later to see how the audience responded—they clapped and cheered. With this sound bite, Mr. Trump Jr. made teachers an enemy to his father’s base, just as the president has done with journalists.
Full disclosure: I’ve never worked in the unelected, deep state, liberal commie pinko socialist Department of State nor in the deep state, bureaucratic Environmental Protection Agency, which has also been under constant assault since January 20, 2017. Instead, I’m a retired educator, a former school administrator and teacher, and a public servant on duty for nearly forty years in school districts and in state and regional education agencies in two states.
But the right might sniff and refer to that experience as being confined to “government schools.” In fact, one long-time Ohio lobbyist and charter school promoter uses that epithet repeatedly to denigrate public schools as part of his effort to demean these community assets.
I wish that I could say that Donald Trump has made a contribution to society like those of my fellow educators who are genuine public servants. How is it that son and father, part of a team that gave us such losers as Trump Shuttle, Trump University and Trump Steaks, could ever think of using the word loser to describe anyone else? Worse yet, with the fake Trump University and Trump Foundation, we have the element of fraud.
Speaking about fraud and losers, consider this.
Based on Internal Revenue Service transcripts of Trump’s tax returns from 1985 to 1994 … Trump’s core businesses racked up losses of more than a billion dollars in a ten-year period. During 1990 and 1991 … Trump’s losses were so large that they “were more than double those of the nearest taxpayers in the I.R.S. information for those years.”
One more note to my fellow educators as well as public employees in general. According to some sources, as many as one in five educators who voted in 2016 cast their ballot for someone who thinks you are losers, a sentiment openly expressed by his son. If you are reading this fact for the first time, you have an opportunity to escape from the Stockholm Syndrome that has some professional educators supporting a political party and a corrupt and incompetent regime that thinks you are losers, without worth, and unimportant.
Teachers and public employees need to wake up to the fact that the Grand Old Party, now proudly identified as the Government of Putin, is also known as the Glorifier of Pejoratives, the slime machine that demeans public servants and considers them losers, of no importance in an emerging society that resembles authoritarianism in its early stages.
As the Republican pejoratives launched against teachers and other public employees accumulate in our consciousness, we should remind ourselves that it was none other than the corrupt and disgraced Spiro T. Agnew who gave us the very phrase that, in these times of vitriol and sliming, should be the recognized motto of the GOP. Nixon’s spear thrower described the media as
Nattering nabobs of negativism. Yes, before they started using the term fake news, the media was portrayed by the GOP as nattering nabobs of negativism.
How apt that pejorative is as a descriptor for today’s Republican Party. Agnew’s crafted phrase stands as a prime example of Republican rhetorical (radio)activity, past and present, particularly in its attacks on public employees. It is fitting that when we think of Agnew today, who was forced to resign the Vice Presidency as a result of an investigation about extortion, tax fraud, and bribery, this son of a Greek immigrant turned Homer on his head. Beware of those bearing gifts to Greeks, some wags reminded us at the time.
Public employees, teachers, beware of the GOP.
Time to wake up folks, particularly if you are a teacher or public employee. Remember that “use of the word bureaucrat is the same thing as calling a doctor a quack or a lawyer an ambulance chaser.”
But most of all, if you know who calls you variously a “deep stater,” a “radical unelected bureaucrat,” a “loser teacher” or some other epitthet, and you vote for them anyway, you will, in fact, lose – and become a loser.
Count on it.
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