politics


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a week is a long time in politics

proverb 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. I'm exhausted by the amount of bombshell stories about the candidates that have come out this week. I know that a week is a long time in politics, but yikes. A: "Thank goodness this election is over in a week." B: "Don't get too excited—a week is a long time in politics after all."
See also: long, politics, time, week

all politics are 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 are local, after all." We know that, fundamentally, all politics are local, that's why we're pushing so hard to get this infrastructure bill passed. Keep in mind that all politics are local. People will vote for you if you've taken action that positively affected their communities.
See also: all, local, 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." We know that, fundamentally, all politics is local, that's why we're pushing so hard to get this infrastructure bill passed. Keep in mind that all politics is local. People will vote for you if you've taken action that positively affected their communities.
See also: all, local, politics

gotcha politics

Political activity and discourse focused primarily on catching one's opponents in a scandal or error so as to discredit them, rather than by focusing on one's own strengths and goals. The senator vowed not to engage in gotcha politics during his presidential campaign, but in the months leading up to the election, he focused almost exclusively on his opponent's alleged tax irregularities. I'm not saying we should excuse infidelity when it comes to light, but I'd rather judge a politician on their accomplishments and beliefs than engage in gotcha politics all the time.
See also: gotcha, politics

green politics

Political action and beliefs focused on environmental sustainability and protection. The senatorial candidate promised to make green politics the focus of her time in office. There has been a surge in support for green politics in recent years after dramatic increases in pollution and natural disasters.
See also: green, politics

identity politics

1. The ways in which one's political views are informed by the facets of their identity, such as race, gender, age, and class. Can we really escape identity politics? How can you divorce yourself from your own experience?
2. The ways in which people with similarities in societal identity (as related to race, gender, class, etc.) focus on and promote interests relevant to them, separate from a broader political group or party. With identity politics at play, it will be hard to attract younger voters to our party.
See also: identity, politics

kitchen-table politics

Political issues that directly affect individual people and their families on a daily basis. If you want to win votes in this part of the country, you need to focus on the kitchen-table politics first and foremost—things like jobs, taxes, and education.
See also: politics

leave politics at the door

To avoid sharing one's political views in a particular setting or group. A possessive adjective can be used between "leave" and "politics." Unless you want to argue with Uncle Ned all night, I'd leave your politics at the door. I appreciate that everyone on in the office leaves politics at the door. It's impossible to work together if people are arguing over that stuff.
See also: door, leave, politics

old-school politics

slang Political dealings undertaken in a manner typical of an earlier era or older style. Can either refer simply to political practices that are considered antiquated or old-fashioned, or to those that are regarded as sneaky or nefarious (which are stereotypical negative traits of politics). Today, young congress people discuss issues on social media, but I know that face-to-face meetings with other members of Congress are how you really get things done on the Hill. Old-school politics are always the answer if you ask me. If you thought the Speaker would be loyal to you after your term was up, well, you don't know old-school politics.
See also: politics

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

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

politics as usual

Proceedings that are or seem typical in a political system. Said especially of that which is unpleasant or undesirable. Of course she hasn't kept any of his campaign promises now that she's in office. That's just politics as usual. Total gridlock sadly becomes politics as usual when the president is from the party that does not have control of Congress.
See also: politics, usual

politics makes strange bedfellows

proverb The pursuit of a political agenda or advantage often results in people working together who would not otherwise normally socialize with one another. A prominent gun-rights advocate and a famous animal welfare activist have come together to champion the new legislation. Politics makes strange bedfellows.

pork-barrel politics

The use of government funding to win support or popularity in a particular place or area. He won that district's votes the tried-and-true way, with pork-barrel politics. He managed to get a bill passed that funded their new community building.
See also: politics

put politics aside

To abstain temporarily from focusing on or prioritizing one's political views. Those of us in Congress need to put politics aside and work together to rebuild our economy. That's the number one thing our fellow countrymen need right now. Can we all just put politics aside for one evening and enjoy a family dinner together?
See also: aside, politics, put

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
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

play politics

act for political or personal gain rather than from principle. derogatory
See also: play, politics
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

strange bedfellows

An odd couple; a peculiar combination. Shakespeare appears to have originated the term, with his “Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows” (The Tempest, 2.2). Several centuries later, Edward Bulwer-Lytton wrote (The Caxtons, 1849), “Poverty has strange bedfellows.” Today we often say that politics makes strange bedfellows, meaning that politicians form odd associations in order to win more support or votes.
See also: bedfellow, strange
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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