Political cards

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Political cards are tactics used in politics, the media, and other adversarial settings in order to appeal to emotion or even prejudice rather than reason. The term is a metaphor for what happens in the card game of bridge, where one card can be played to "trump" (defeat) all other cards.

In contrast with most card games, however, a political card can be played at any time, no matter how irrational or irrelevant to the topic. Many liberal articles and commentaries consist of little more than playing one or more political cards.

A card is "played" when one side relies on a particular issue in order to gain an often-unjustified upper hand in the debate or controversy.

Liberals have had a difficult time playing a political card against the Tea Party Movement, due to its amorphous nature.

Political card Meaning Example Advantage Disadvantage
sexist card allegations men are ignorant slobs and women need a protected status as a voting bloc within the Democratic Party. Lawrence Summers was driven from his presidency of Harvard for merely mentioning the possibility that women may not have as much aptitude for math as men. safe haven for angry liberals and feminists implies women are helpless unless they receive special treatment from the government
race card Bringing race into a debate by suggesting that criticism is racially motivated or that one's opponent is racist Used effectively to silence criticism of Obama in 2008 prove you're not a racist is like saying, "when did you stop beating your wife?" the boy who cried wolf.
hate speech card Anything that highlights or is critical of the historical record of liberal governance. The Obama administration has used the FCC to harass and intimidate what it considers its media critics. [1] programmed response for liberal failures. mimics liberal talking points
Xenophobia card Bringing country of origin into a debate by suggesting that criticism is motivated by a fear of foreigners (eg. Australians) Polite and responsible criticism of President Obama is deemed xenophobic.[2] At first seems to be an effective way to pose the opponent as racist. Ultimately fails when both debaters are of the same country or when the person making the original claim is from the country of the claim.
anti-gay card Calling opponents of the homosexual agenda intolerant instead of focusing on the immorality of homosexuality. Used against Rick Santorum leading up to his defeat for reelection in 2006 assumes the posture of civil rights advocacy. African-Americans oppose the promotion of gay rights in greater numbers than the general population of the United States as a whole.[3]
intolerant card demonstrating inconsistencies in liberal ideology. the most despicable forms of liberal intolerance traditionally have been reserved for, and manifested in, the vile abuses heaped upon Black conservatives, Black Republicans, and Black Tea Party activists. in a democracy, the voice of opposition can always be labeled intolerant boomerang
extreme card in typical MSM newspeak, anything right of center or not liberal. Bill and Hillary Clinton persistently referred to the Republican Contract with America as extreme; President Clinton ultimately signed 7 of 10 Contract items in to law. Prior to the 9/11 attacks, was used interchangeably with "terrorist" by mainstream media sources. Polls show mainstream journalists are more liberal than the American public.[4]
greedy card Portraying capitalistic ideas or actions as greedy Attacking oil companies for their profits, even though oil companies create jobs and pay into the federal Treasury, and profits make up a reasonable portion of total revenue. Most people care about money and fairness. Seems hypocritical if the person using the strategy is wealthy (like most liberal politicians) or benefits from capitalism (like all Americans)
millionaires and billionaires card class warfare President Obama said on June 29, 2011, "I'm proposing we get rid of tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires." [5] appeals to voters motivated by envy politicians that use it are dependent on campaign contributions from millionaires and billionaires.
conspiracy theory card the one making the charge cannot explain facts. Hillary Clinton charged that her husband's behavior was the result of a "vast right-wing conspiracy". provides plausible reasons for the simple minded. contradictory evidence leads to more conspiracy theories.
homophobia card Accusing the opponent of having an irrational fear or hatred of homosexuals. Opposition to the radical redefinition of marriage as expressed in California's Proposition 8 was deemed homophobia.[6] Old stand-by in the arsenal of liberal slander attacks. Attempts to ostracize and criminalize an emotional disorder. Many if not most homophobes are gay.
anti-environment card A claim that tries to portray the opponent badly by placing them as someone who "hates the environment". "The GOP wants babies to be fed poison from the environment" [7]
Watch the Video
The simple-minded will swallow any line of garbage. purview of extremists
over-sensitive card failure to behave in a realistic manner and being afraid to upset people Plays on others' fear of seeming weak.
uneducated card Because a person is stupid, they are unqualified to be president. Reading from a prop, Dan Quayle once misspelled "potato", and liberals destroyed him by playing this card. A momentary lapse is seized upon to make a person look like an idiot. Works well until a liberal candidate utters a statement like the United States is made up of 57 states.
fundamentalist card seeks to link Islamic fundamentalism with Christian fundamentalism. Richard Dawkins screed, The God Delusion. puts Billy Graham and bin Laden in the same boat. A majority of Americans are neither atheist nor secular humanists.
Dominionist card implies evangelical Christians want to impose an Iranian style theocracy on the United States. Used by misogynists to attack Michelle Bachmann. [1] appeals to the fears of atheists and religious bigots. based on social pseudoscience, propaganda, and journalistic hacks.
free speech card cry "free speech," "free speech" for everything offensive to Christianity, while censoring the truth and limiting political speech Supreme Court ruled exotic dancing protected free expression but disallowed a high school football team's pregame prayer under the same grounds. Legally it is technically correct Just because something is "free speech" does not mean it is not wrong
birther card claims those asking unanswered questions are conspiracy kooks Truthers vs. Birthers: Not All Conspiracy Theories Are Created Equal [8] hides the question of natural born citizen exposes the original meaning of natural born citizen.
abortion card a defense of feminism Senator Ted Kennedy implied that Justice Bork would turn back Roe V. Wade forcing women to have back-alley abortions. fear Republican laws and personal responsibility you can't run from your conscience and consequence of actions can lead to a lifetime of suffering
snark card Using snarky (sometimes even offensive) humor to attack the opponent. Rachael Maddow, Jon Stewart, etc. Often a cue for other liberals to "join in" the laughter Nobody else is laughing (or they are laughing at the snark attempt-er).
Jesus card Claiming "What would Jesus do" to try to paint the opponent as not a true Christian (a common liberal tactic when cornered on a religious issue, such as homosexuality) As noted above, liberals often use this to defend homosexuality [9] by claiming that Jesus never specifically mentioned it. Certain Bible passages can easily be quote mined. A true Christian can easily find the flaws in such an argument by pointing our how it is taken out of context.
gun nut card slurs anyone who wants to take away defensive weapons The shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was blamed on Sarah Palin; opponents of Constitutional Rights immediately clamored for bigger and more government oppression.[10] Appeals to pro-gun-control people's negative stereotypes of gun enthusiasts. angers those with guns
Liberal redefinition card changing the definition of a word to suit one's purposes "Promote the General Welfare" became "living on the dole". An insidious way to reframe debate that can be effective if one's opponents are not vigilant or use imprecise thinking. Moral relativism.
misuse of statistics card Liberals often use certain "trends" to support their claims. Citing the Clinton surplus vs the Bush deficit At first makes the user look like they have done their research Often taken out of context (for example the Clinton surplus was largely due to a Republican congress and the end of the Cold War, while the Bush deficit was caused greatly by two wars and need for Homeland Security.
cherry picking data card selectively picking out cases that support one's arguments from a wide variety of material and ignoring all the cases that don't Obama White House claims the stimulus "created or saved" 2.4 million jobs.[11] Many people struggle with statistics, so poorly-informed observers may assume the user is correct. dishonest and easy to point out counterexamples
never-admit-a-mistake card [12] inability to admit a mistake; lack of openmindness Obama said his stimulus would hold unemployment below 8%; instead it rose to over 9% and straddled the U.S. with the debt ceiling crisis. [13] the quick fix incrementalism leads to compromise
denying Biblical scientific foreknowledge card
Anti-American card Denying American exceptionalism. Trots out false examples of how European countries have better standard of living.
deceit card Lies or distorts truth in order to win argument. Obama's critics are racists. Can impress ill-informed or credulous observers. You're only fooling yourself if you believe any of it.
Poe's card Impersonation of politicians to discredit their positions. Liberals often create straw men during this impersonation. Adds to negative stereotypes of real conservatives, especially where people have not met many genuine conservatives.
Elite card claiming that a policy benefits the rich and powerful Appeals to people's "Robin Hood" impulse to support underdogs and mistrust the wealthy. The rich pay all the taxes.
Compassion card arguing someone must be right because he has more compassion Liberal uncharitableness and Liberal politicians and uncharitableness has been well documented. Attempts to paint opponents' pragmatism as cold-heartedness. The calling card of limousine liberals.
Hypocrite card claiming some inconsistency in positions The idea that a pro-lifer must oppose death penalty Some people actually buy it. Often the people making the Hypocrite claim exhibit hypocrisy themselves (see Liberal hypocrisy)
Guilt by association card insinuating that someone is bad because he was once in the same room with some extremist "shaking hands with Saddam Hussein." [14] slander at will look who's calling the kettle back.
nativist card the idea people born in a given country are xenophobic exclusionary bigots. Opposition to the Ground Zero mosque. divides the people against themselves hard to prove in a melting pot
Godwin card invoking the name of Hitler. Liberal George Soros likened the Bush administration to the Nazi regime. appeals to emotion and extremists, and less educated leftists. typical totalitarian tactic.
Patriot card Seeks to paint loyal Americans as racist. "patriotism is little more than a disguised form of racism"[15] Some "Patriot movement" groups call for tighter immigration control. Democrats can be sensitive to the charge of being unpatriotic.
Immigration card Implies Democrats are sympathetic to a person's immigration status, despite the fact there is no historical record of legislative achievements in this area and Democrats associate being opposed to illegal immigration as being "anti-immigration" as a whole, which is bigoted and completely insulting to people that come to this country legally. The Obama Dream Act, a "cynical exercise in political charades", failed to pass the Democratic controlled Senate, 55-41. Seeks to pit voters against each other along racial and ethnic lines, which Democrats view as a win. Most immigrants come to America seeking conservative values, such as a right to work, religious freedom, or being free of big government oppression. Millions have fled intolerant atheist regimes.
redneck card implication rural inhabitants are uneducated and possibly racist Used to smear most conservatives pejorative aimed at Bluedog Democrats, Red State dwellers, and others in flyover country. When motivated, this group forms an important part of a center-right majority.
bitter and cling to guns or religion card Why don't common people vote Democrat? Used by Obama and Howard Dean. Attempts to justify Democrat's failure to coffeehouse liberals, and persuade hick voters by belittling them. Insulting to average voters.
NASCAR card insinuates NASCAR fans are uneducated and racist NASCAR fans tend to vote Republican,[16] more so than fans of most others sports. Republicans failed to balance the budget by cutting $7.4 million from the Pentagon's sponsorship of NASCAR for Army recruiting. [17] NASCAR has an estimated 75 million fans.
insensitive card failure to behave in a politically correct manner. a former Miss California was stripped of her crown for saying she thought marriage was between a man and a woman. [18] ostracizing others among the unenlightened masses leads to feelings of superiority. not everyone keeps up to date on the lastest liberal tripe.
McCarthyism card accuse someone of being like the (false) liberal portrayal of Joseph McCarthy "Racist!" as an Epithet of Repression [19] baseless smear, such as calling someone a racist. Extremely flexible, and with great glee you can ruin someone's life just for fun. Requires no morals or conscience.
Victim card Pretending to be a victim of the right wingers. Liberals looking for alleged conservative bias everywhere. Rallies base. Makes them look weak, petty and paranoid.


  1. http://spectator.org/archives/2009/10/20/fcc-church-conspiracy-to-silen/print#
  2. See:JournoList
  3. http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/feature/2008/10/30/proposition_8
  4. The Liberal Media, Every Poll Shows Journalists Are More Liberal than the American Public — And the Public Knows It, Rich Noyes, Director of Research, Media Research Center, June 30, 2004.
  5. The Washington Post Fact Checker column said, "in the context of a $4 trillion goal, it is essentially meaningless. The item is so small the White House could not even provide an estimate of the revenue that would be raised, but other estimates suggest it would amount to $3 billion over 10 years."
  6. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/26/AR2010082605233.html
  7. http://www.uncoverage.net/2011/03/new-tv-ad-for-epa-republicans-poison-babies/
  8. Truthers vs. Birthers: Not All Conspiracy Theories Are Created Equal; Birthers aren't remotely as crazy — and dangerous — as Truthers. September 23, 2009 by Arthur Chrenkoff. Pajama's Media.
  9. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-shore/what-would-jesus-do-if-in_b_480013.html
  10. http://articles.nydailynews.com/2011-01-09/news/27086902_1_gun-ban-sarah-palin-gun-incident
  11. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124451592762396883.html
  12. Thomas Sowell writes, (a) goals are redefined after the fact to give the public the illusion of success; (b) bad motives are ascribed to the opposition or society in general; (c) good intentions of the anointed are highlighted; and (d) they attack the accuracy of the data showing failure. Thomas Sowell, The Vision of the Anointed, Chap. 2.
  13. http://www.abqjournal.com/main/2011/07/20/opinion/only-hope-is-undoing-obamas-mess.html Only Hope Is Undoing Obama’s Mess], Kenneth Brown And Micha Gisser, Albuquerque Journal, July 20 2011.
  14. Google Search Results.
  15. http://atheism.about.com/od/politicspoliticalissues/a/problempride_2.htm
  16. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/04/24/109269/-Why-do-NASCAR-Fans-Vote-Republican
  17. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/19/sports/autoracing/19nascar.html
  18. http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2009/04/20/carrie-prejean-says-answer-gay-marriage-question-cost-miss-usa-crown/
  19. “Racist!” as an Epithet of Repression, Dr. Paul Trout, Montana Professor Journal, Fall 1995.