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The Art of Politics

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(1) Whatever happened to present day politics? Everybody seems to be hitting below the belt! Abuse and insults seem to be an everyday occurrence. Political debates quickly degenerate into shouting competitions. Where are manners? Where is respect for opponents. It seems thirst for power is all-consuming. In 1946, George Orwell published his influential essay, Politics and the English Language, in which he shivered over the frightening ease with which politicians can exploit the public, use political rhetoric to influence the masses. It does seem as if we are moving towards this scenario.

(2) There have always been dictators, oppressive leaders and unethical behaviour in politics since time immemorial, however, in the present global political scenario, we seemed to have descended to new lows. One cannot but mention the recent political situations in the USA and the UK.

(3) Take Brexit. Sensationalism won the day. Scaremongering and fear were used, sometimes indiscriminately to influence the masses. Politicians were threatened. A left leaning politician was even murdered outside her home in England for speaking out against Brexit.

(4) An even more disturbing situation is unfolding right before our very eyes in the USA. The run up to the presidential elections on the 8th November are far reaching and effect almost all countries in the world in one way or another. The most powerful country in the world will have a new leader by the time you read this. Whether it is Hilary Clinton or Donald Trump the decision will have been made and it will be irreversible.

(5) The problem with politics today is that it has become a choice between ‘Bad and Worse! Hobson’s choice; being caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. With many countries in a duopoly situation (two main political parties holding the majority of power and seats in parliament). This situation has given birth to a new class of citizens and neo political movements such as the Anonymous Group.

(6) Technology has given political actors the capability to reach more people more of the time in more places than at any previous stage of human history. Technology is also ‘guilty’ of exposing mistakes and gaffs made by politicians online.

Political Vocabulary & Phrases

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Below the belt (idiom): unfair, not according to the rules
Abuse and insults: shouting at, using bad language with someone, insulting
Degenerate: get worse
Thirst for power (idiom): wanting more and more power
Shivered: shaking of the body normally due to cold, fear or sickness
Exploit the public: use the people without compensation
Political Rhetoric: The language of politics

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Dictator: undemocratically elected leader who oppresses the people
Oppressive: using power unjustly
Descended to new lows: to move down to low levels (of politics)

Paragraph 3

Brexit (new word): Britain leaving the European union (a mix of Britain and Exit)
Indiscriminately: blindly, aimlessly

Paragraph 4

Disturbing: worrying
Far reaching (phrasal verb): extensive, significant
Irreversible: cannot go back

Paragraph 5

Hobson’s choice (idiom): no alternative, no option
Caught between the devil and the deep blue sea (idiom): a dilemma, to choose between two undesirable situations

Paragraph 6

Gaffs: faults, oversights

Choose only one correct answer:

  • 1. What is the problem with politics today?

  • 2. What was George Orwell worried about when he published his influential essay in 1942?

  • 3. Which two countries are mentioned in the article?

  • 4. Which neo political movement is mentioned in the text?

  • 5. How has technology influenced politics in recent years?