Some time ago, several millennia in fact, a wise man known as Confucius admonished the Chinese people to “call things by their proper names” in order to better perceive and grapple with reality, and to avoid disorder. It is said that he was among the first to understand the importance of language in politics.

If he were still around he might well have plenty to say about the English language in general, and our political lexicon in particular. A number of the terms commonly used in American politics conceal more than they reveal and seem almost designed to confuse. One of the more confusing political terms out there is “conspiracy theory.”

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