politics


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a week is a long time in politics

Due to the fast-changing pace of the political landscape, the fortunes of a politician or political group can change drastically just in the course of a single week. The phrase is attributed to British Prime Minister Harold Wilson, c. 1964. The challenger is enjoying a surge in popularity after the debate, but there's still time before the election, and a week is a long time in politics.
See also: long, politics, time, week

palace politics

The relationships, interactions, designs, and inner workings of the top members of a political organization (not necessarily of a monarchy or empire). Used especially in relation to internal rivalry, plotting, double crossing, etc. The country has faced its fair share of problems since shaking off the dictatorship, not the least of which being the intense palace politics of the newly formed government.
See also: palace, politics

all politics is local

Because voters are strongly influenced by the political decisions that impact their everyday lives, politicians must make them a priority, in order to stay in office. A: "I'm shocked by how many times the candidates have come to our little town." B: "Well, they know who votes for them, and all politics is local, after all."
See also: all, local, politics

play politics

To act with personal political motivations in mind, rather than the principle or general benefits of an action. It's clear the mayor is just playing politics—saying whatever will win him votes at the moment.
See also: play, politics

strange bedfellows

A pair of people, things, or groups connected in a certain situation or activity but extremely different in overall characteristics, opinions, ideologies, lifestyles, behaviors, etc. A notorious playboy musician and an ultra-conservative media pundit may be strange bedfellows, but the two are coming together all this month to bring a spotlight to suicide awareness. I thought that the two writers would make strange bedfellows, given the drastically different nature of their writing, but the books they've co-written actually work really well.
See also: bedfellow, strange

third rail

An issue or topic that is so controversial that it would immediately damage or destroy one's political career or credibility. An allusion to the electrified rail that powers electric railway systems, its figurative sense is almost exclusively used in relation to politics. Primarily heard in US. I wouldn't even bring it up—trying to withdraw people's social security benefits has long been the third rail of politics. Any talk of dismantling or reforming the current healthcare system has been a political third rail for the last two decades or so.
See also: rail, third

play politics

 
1. Lit. to negotiate politically. Everybody at city hall is playing politics as usual. If you're elected as a member of a political party, you'll have to play politics.
2. to allow politics to dominate in matters where principle should prevail. Look, I came here to discuss the legal issues of this trial, not play politics. They're not making reasonable decisions. They're playing politics.
See also: play, politics

Politics makes strange bedfellows.

Prov. People who would normally dislike and avoid one another will work together if they think it is politically useful to do so. Jill: I never would have thought that genteel, aristocratic candidate would pick such a rabble-rousing, rough-mannered running mate. Jane: Politics makes strange bedfellows.

play politics

Act for personal or political gain rather than principle, as in I don't think this judge is fair-he's playing politics. [Mid-1800s]
See also: play, politics

strange bedfellows

A peculiar alliance or combination, as in George and Arthur really are strange bedfellows, sharing the same job but totally different in their views . Although strictly speaking bedfellows are persons who share a bed, like husband and wife, the term has been used figuratively since the late 1400s. This particular idiom may have been invented by Shakespeare in The Tempest (2:2), "Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows." Today a common extension is politics makes strange bedfellows, meaning that politicians form peculiar associations so as to win more votes. A similar term is odd couple, a pair who share either housing or a business but are very different in most ways. This term gained currency with Neil Simon's Broadway play The Odd Couple and, even more, with the motion picture (1968) and subsequent television series based on it, contrasting housemates Felix and Oscar, one meticulously neat and obsessively punctual, the other extremely messy and casual.
See also: bedfellow, strange

third rail

Something that is dangerous to tamper with, as in Anything concerning veterans is a political third rail. This term alludes to the rail that supplies the high voltage powering an electric train, so called since 1918. On the other hand, grab hold of the third rail means "become energized." Both shifts from the original meaning date from the late 1900s.
See also: rail, third

play politics

act for political or personal gain rather than from principle. derogatory
See also: play, politics
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Like ethics, politics is a clumsy word because it is singular but ends in "s.