earmarked - to set aside for a special purpose, as when in a budget, funds are earmarked for certain projects.

ecclesiastical - pertaining to church matters, as in ecclesiastical courts, ecclesiastical history, etc.

ecology - the branch of biology that deals with the relation between living things and their environment. Ecology is an important political issue today, although it is usually comes under the umbrella of "environmental" issues. These include the human-made destruction of the environment (cutting down of rain forests, thinning of the ozone layer, for example) which in the opinion of environmentalists constitute a grave threat to life on earth. See environmental protection; greenhouse effect; ozone layer; toxic wastes.

economic growth - the increase in a nation's production of goods and services, often measured annually in the Gross National Product (GNP) and the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). For example, from 1947 to 2010, the average quarterly U.S. GDP growth rate was 3.31 percent. The record growth was 17.2 percent in March 1950.

economic warfare - conflict between nations over economic issues, that results in each side taking action against the other, to raise tariffs, restrict imports, or boycott the others' goods.

economics - the science of the allocation of limited resources for the satisfaction of human wants.

economy - the entire system of production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services in a country.

ecumenical - universal. Used in reference to cooperation, understanding and unity between different churches, as in the ecumenical movement.

ecumenism - the ecumenical movement within Christian churches, which has been a notable feature of Christianity over the last 40-50 years. Also refers to the cultivation of greater understanding and tolerance between different religions.


executive privilege - the privilege extended to the executive branch to withhold certain information from Congress or the courts. The need to withhold may be to preserve the confidentiality of communications within the executive, or to serve the national interest. Throughout U.S. history, presidents have invoked executive privilege, although the concept is not explicitly stated in the constitution. The privilege was restricted by the Supreme Court in 1974, after President Richard Nixon invoked it in the Watergate scandal. The Court ruled that executive privilege could not be applied to prevent evidence being supplied in a criminal case. In 1998, President Bill Clinton invoked executive privilege in an attempt to prevent his aides testifying before a grand jury in a criminal inquiry. As in 1974, the courts ruled that executive privilege must give way to the needs of a criminal case. The administration of President George W. Bush (2001-2009) invoked executive privilege on many occasions.

egalitarianism - the doctrine that advocates equal political and social rights for all citizens. As such, egalitarianism is enshrined in the U.S. constitution. It does not mean that all people should be equal, but that they should all have equal opportunity.

election - the process by which public or private officials are selected from a field of candidates by the marking of ballots in a vote.

electorate - all the people in a district that are eligible to vote in elections.

eleventh hour - the last moment; only moments before it would be too late, as in, "the arrival of the U.S. cavalry at the eleventh hour saved the settlers from an Indian attack."

elite - an exclusive, carefully selected group or class, usually small, which possesses certain advantages, either of wealth, privilege, education, training, status, political power, etc. One might refer, for example, to the governing elite of a country, or to the U.S. marines as an elite force.

elitism - the doctrine that advocates leadership by a select group or elite. Elitism is not something that any U.S. politician would openly advocate, since it runs counter to the democratic ideal. However, it often proves a useful term when one politician wants to snipe at another one. For example, If a politician appears to be advocating a policy that denies equal opportunity for all, he might be accused by his opponents of elitism.

emancipation - setting free from slavery or oppression, as in the Emancipation Proclamation, a declaration by President Abraham Lincoln that became effective in 1863, that all the slaves who were in the Confederate States, who were in rebellion against the United States, were free men.

embargo - a government-imposed ban on trade with a specific country. For example, the U.S. has a trade embargo on Cuba; a similar embargo imposed on trade with Vietnam was lifted in 1994. Sometimes an embargo can be imposed on a particular commodity only, as when the U.S. imposed a grain embargo on the Soviet Union as a protest against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.

embassy - the official residence and offices of an ambassador in a foreign country.

embezzlement - the act of fraudulently taking for oneself money or goods that have been entrusted to one's care.

emeritus - retired from service but retaining a rank or title, as in professor emeritus.

emigration - going to live permanently in a country other than one's own.

eminent domain - the right of a government to take private property for public use, even if the owner refuses consent, provided that adequate compensation is paid. The right is described in the Fifth Amendment of the constitution, which says, "nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

empire - a state that unites many different territories and peoples under one rule, as in the Roman Empire, the British Empire. Often the territories are spread widely apart across the globe, and do not possess the same constitutional status as the "mother" country.

enclave - an area that is surrounded or enclosed by territories that belong to another country. The area of Nagorno-Karabakh, for example, is an Armenian enclave within the state of Azerbaijan (and was the cause of a long-running war in the 1990s.) The term can also be used when a country or territory is divided along sectarian grounds. One might speak for example, of a Roman Catholic enclave within largely Protestant Northern Ireland.

entente - an international agreement or alliance. A famous entente was the Entente Cordiale, signed between Britain and France in 1904; another was the Triple Entente, an alliance between Britain, France, and Russia, which grew out of the Entente Cordiale and lasted until 1917.

entrepreneur - someone who sets up a new business undertaking, raises the money necessary, and organizes production and appoints the management. The entrepreneur bears the financial risk involved, in the hope that the business will succeed and make a profit.

environmental protection - the preservation of natural resources. In 1969 the National Environment Policy Act of 1969 stated that such protection is the responsibility of the federal government, and it was with this in mind that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was formed in 1970. Since then a network of environmental laws has been passed, covering such areas as the quality of air and water, toxic wastes, endangered species, and pesticides. See also greenhouse effect; ozone layer; toxic wastes.

envoy - a person sent by a government to a foreign country to conduct diplomatic business. An envoy ranks below an ambassador.

equal opportunity - the idea, which enjoys a broad consensus in the U.S., that opportunities in education, employment or any other field, should be freely available to all citizens, regardless of race, gender, religion, or country of origin, or any other factor that could be used to discriminate against someone. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which was created in 1964, promotes equal opportunity in hiring, promotion, wages, and all other aspects of employment.

equal pay - the principle that pay should be according to the work done, not according to who the worker is. In other words, women who perform the same tasks, demanding the same skill and level of responsibility, as men should receive the same pay. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 prohibits discrimination in the workplace regarding pay, based on gender.

equilibrium - in economics, the term refers to a stable economic condition in which all significant variables remain constant over a period of time. For example, a market will be in equilibrium if the amount of goods that buyers wish to purchase at the prevailing price is exactly matched by the amount that the sellers wish to sell at that price. There is then no reason for the price to change, which it would do if either of the variables (supply or demand) were to alter.

equity - the capital, or assets, of a firm, after the deduction of liabilities.

establishment - the group that holds power in any section of society, political, military, academic, religious. The establishment is much broader than a political party or social class; it is usually conservative, upholding traditional ways of doing things; to outsiders, some establishments can seem like closed, secretive, elusive "clubs."

ethics - the study of standards of conduct and moral judgment.

ethnic - someone who is a member of an ethnic group (a group distinguished from others by race, customs, language, etc.), particularly a member of a minority group within a larger community. The U.S. is composed of a large number of ethnic groups. The extent to which an ethnic group should subordinate its heritage in order to become an "American" is a controversial issue in the twenty-first century. Sometimes ethnic groups that are comparatively recent arrivals in the U.S., largely those from Asia and Africa, are accused of clinging on to their ethnic heritage and refusing to become assimilated into mainstream culture, unlike earlier, largely European immigrants, have done. Such is the thinking behind the right-wing demand that English should be the official language of the U.S.- to prevent the nation losing its coherence and breaking down into a patchwork quilt of ethnic groups. Ethnic divisions have an influence on U.S. politics, not only with the obviously highly charged issue of racism against African Americans and Hispanics, but more subtly, as when a politician will give a twist to a policy to win favor with a particular ethnic group.

ethnocentrism - belief in the inherent superiority of one's own cultural, ethnic, or political group.

ethos - the characteristic attitudes, beliefs, and habits of a group, as in, say, the conservative ethos of hard work and self-reliance.

extradition - the giving up by one nation of a person accused or convicted of a crime to another nation where the offender is to be tried or, if already convicted, punished.

exile - the banishing of someone from his homeland for a specified period, or for life; the person who is so banished. Exile is not as common a punishment as it was before modern times. But exile is still the frequent fate of deposed dictators, who would otherwise have to face charges in their own land. Sometimes they choose voluntary exile rather than face the consequences of their rule. In 1994, the military rulers of Haiti chose to go into exile rather than resist a U.S. invasion.

expansionism - the policy of expanding a nation's territory or sphere of influence. The term usually has a negative connotation, suggesting that a nation has its eyes on more than its fair share of things, as in Soviet expansionism.

export - the sending of goods or services to a foreign market for the purpose of selling.

Eurocommunism - communism in Western Europe, particularly in France and Italy, and with the exception of Britain, has gained more of a foothold than it has in the U.S. Western European communist parties tend to be more democratic than their Eastern European or Russian counterparts were, and have some measure of genuine public support. They have also tended to pursue policies that are independent of Moscow, particularly in the wake of the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. The term Eurocommunism became current in the 1970s.

European Union (EU) - The EU has 27 members, including Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom. For over 50 years, member countries have been developing common policies on a wide range of issues such as agriculture, environment, trade, labor practices, research and development. In 1993, all barriers were removed to the free flow of trade, goods, services and people between all member countries, which made the EU the largest trading bloc in the world. Another step towards European unity was taken in 1998, when the EC created a European Central Bank. In 2002 eleven member countries adopted a single currency, the euro, used by sixteen countries as of 2010. Membership of the EU is open to any European democracy. The presidency of the EC rotates every six months among member nations; summit meetings are held every June and December in the host country. Headquarters for the EU is in Brussels, Belgium. The EU has many institutions, including the European Parliament, which has 518 delegates from the member countries, elected every five years. It meets each month for one week in Strasbourg, France. It keeps watch over EU activities, and supervises such organizations as the European Atomic Energy Commission (Euratom).


greenhouse effect - sometimes called global warming, it is caused by atmospheric pollutants, mostly from the burning of fossil fuels (like the gasoline in automobiles) that form a barrier in the upper atmosphere which traps the heat being radiated from the earth. Since the heat cannot escape, temperatures at the earth's surface begin to rise, creating changes in the earth's weather patterns. In 1997, an international agreement was reached in Kyoto, Japan, to reduce six "greenhouse" gases, including carbon dioxide emissions, which are the principal cause of global warming. The U.S. agreed to reduce emissions by 7 percent over the next 15 years. The Kyoto Protocol went into force in 2005; as of 2010, 191 states have signed and ratified it. However, this does not include the United States, which withdrew support for the Protocol in 2001.

euthanasia - the act or method of causing death painlessly, as an act of mercy to someone suffering from an incurable disease. Euthanasia is illegal in the U.S., but it is a controversial issue in America today. More and more people are believing that they should have the right to decide, if they are suffering from an incurable and eventually fatal illness, when and how they should die. Publicity for euthanasia was generated in the 1990s by Dr. Jack Kevorkian (christened "Dr Death" by the media) who helped over a dozen terminally ill people end their lives. He was convicted of second-degree murder in one case of euthanasia and served eight years in prison, from 1999 to 2007.

evangelical - strictly speaking, the term refers to anything that is contained in the four gospels in the New Testament, or to the Protestant churches that emphasize salvation by faith rather than good works. But nowadays the term is also used more loosely, often simply to describe a "born again," or fundamentalist, Christian.

evangelism - a zealous effort to spread the word of the gospel, i.e. the beliefs of Christianity.

ex officio - Latin term meaning because of one's office. It means that if, for example, someone is on a committee as an ex officio member, he is on the committee because of the office he holds, rather than because he was elected or otherwise appointed to the committee.

expatriate - someone who has renounced his citizenship of the country in which he was born and has become a citizen of another country.

exploitation - taking advantage of something for one's own use or benefit, especially in an unethical manner. Thus an employer who pays unreasonably low wages or makes unreasonable demands on his employees is guilty of exploitation. In Marxist theory exploitation refers to the making of profit (by capitalists) from the labor of others (the proletariat).

expropriation - the confiscation of private property by the state, often without adequate compensation. This was often done by communist regimes. Another example: when whites in South Africa in the 1990s realized that there would soon be a black government in power committed to land redistribution, many feared that this might lead to the expropriation of their property (a fear that did not proved justified.)

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