quid pro quo - a Latin phrase meaning one thing for another; tit-for-tat. For example, during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, President John Kennedy gave a personal (although not official) pledge that the crisis could be defused by a quid pro quo: If the Russians removed their missiles from Cuba, the U.S. would within a few months remove its own missiles from Turkey.

quisling - a traitor or collaborator, after Vidkun Quisling, a Norwegian who was a Nazi sympathizer and revealed state secrets about Norwegian defenses to German agents in 1940, six days before the German occupation of Norway began in World War II. Quisling served as a puppet prime minster during the war; he was executed in 1945.

quorum - the number of members of a legislature, or of any organization, that have to be present before official business may be conducted.

racism - the discrimination against a person or group solely because of their race. Any political doctrine that claims the superiority of one race over another.

radical - favoring fundamental change in society. Traditionally radicalism has been identified with the left, but radicals can be on the right too. Often in twenty-first century America, both left and right regard each other as radical. People on the right, for example, tend to see President Obama as a radical ???socialist??? who wants to increase the role of government in people???s lives, while those on the left see the conservative agenda as a radical attempt to reshape society and undo the entitlement programs people have come to rely on. Radicalism has a long history in Europe from the eighteenth century on; in America it was advocated by Tom Paine.

raison d'etat - French phrase meaning a reason of state. A reason of state is something that is of vital importance to the state, which justifies the action that a state may perform in regard to it, but which usually cannot be made public at the time.

raison d'etre - a French phrase meaning the reason for a thing's existence. The raison d'etre of the American civil rights movement was to secure equal rights for African Americans; the raison d'etre of the U.S. military is to defend the nation.

rank and file - in military usage, refers to the main body of soldiers in an army, excluding the officers. The term also applies to the ordinary people who form the main part of any group, as in the party rank and file supported the most conservative candidate.

ratification - the formal adoption of a treaty by a state, by a vote of its legislators. For example, the GATT treaty had to be ratified by the Senate before it became binding on the U.S. The term also applies to approval by the states of constitutional amendments.

rationing - the control by a government of the right to purchase essential goods, when those goods are scarce. Usually used as a wartime measure to ensure that everyone has at least a minimum supply of essentials.

raw materials - materials in their natural state that are used in manufacturing to create something else. Raw materials become of political importance when their supply is obstructed or threatened, as happened in 1990, when Iraq's invasion of Kuwait threatened to put a sizable portion of the world's oil supplies in unstable hands.

reactionary - resisting progress; wanting to go back to the old ways of doing things, even if those ways are no longer appropriate. Usually used in a derogatory sense. People rarely describe themselves as reactionaries. But someone who thinks of himself as a conservative may be a reactionary to his opponents.

Reagan Doctrine - The name given to a policy pursued by President Ronald Reagan, of American support for anti-communist revolutions. Reagan announced in his state of the Union address in 1985, "We must not break faith with those who are risking their lives on every continent . . . to defy Soviet-supported aggression and secure rights which have been ours from birth . . . Support for freedom fighters is self-defense." The Reagan adminstration advocated this policy for three main reasons: Anti-communist rebels should be supported because they were fighting for an end to tyranny; if they were defeated their countries would fall under Soviet domination; it was necessary to back anti-communist rebels because defending freedom was a long-established American tradition. The policy was applied to rebel movements in Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, and Nicaragua.

realism - that which deals with the facts, with things as they are, not with idealistic notions of what they might or should be. Practical rather than visionary or imaginative. In politics, realism is similar to realpolitik in meaning.

Realpolitik - German term now used in English that means politics based on strictly practical rather than theoretical or idealistic notions, and practised with a hard or cynical edge, without any sentimental illusions. Realpolitik is power politics; the practitioner of realpolitik pursues the interests of his own group or country ruthlessly; he expects the other side to the same.

rebellion - armed resistance to authority or government, similar to revolution.

recession - usually defined as a contraction in the Gross National Product that lasts six months or longer. A recession might be marked by job layoffs and high unemployment, stagnant wages, and reductions in retail sales, and slowing of housing and car markets. A recession is much milder than a depression, and is often considered a normal part of the business cycle. In recent years, the U.S. economy has been in recession several times, in 1990-91, 2001, and 2007-2009. The recession of 2007-09 was the most serious of these, and is sometimes referred to as the Great Recession.

red herring - something irrelevant that is used to confuse or take the attention away from the something else. The politician who is asked an awkward question may introduce a red herring into his answer, to divert attention away from the awkward issue. The term comes from the use of red herrings in hunting, to distract the hounds.

redistribution - reallocation by a government of the wealth of a nation. This is usually done by taxes and welfare benefits-high taxes for the wealthy finance benefits for the poor. Redistribution is one of the central tenets of the welfare state, and of socialism.

referendum - a national or local vote on a single issue. Most U.S. states require referendums on amendments to the state constitution.

reform - a change or modification of something that already exists.

refugee - a person who has been driven out of his homeland by war or natural disaster and who seeks safety in another country.

regime - refers to a method or system of government; is often used to refer to a military government, or to a government that lacks legitimacy.

regimentation - making people think and act in the same manner. Regimentation is a characteristic of totalitarian societies.

regionalism - policies that recognize the distinctive character of different regions in a country, and allow them some autonomy over their own affairs. Regions, for example, can be distinctive due to language, culture, and history.

rehabilitate - to restore the good name or reputation of, as in former President Richard Nixon spent many years after he resigned over the Watergate scandal trying to rehabilitate his reputation. In sociology, the term is used to refer to restoring a criminal to a condition in which he can return to society and refrain from commiting further crimes.

rehabilitation - the act of rehabilitating or state of being rehabilitated. Rehabilitation is one stated purposes of the U.S. prison system, which is why in most states the system is run by a department called the Department of Corrections. The tension between the need to punish and the need to rehabilitate has always been present in the prison system, and the balance fluctuates from time to time. In the 1990s and beyond, because of public fear of crime, there was a swing toward the idea of punishment and retribution (in 1995, for example, the state of Alabama restored chain gangs), and against rehabilitation through programs such as jobs and education. This was in spite of several studies which show that the availability of educational programs reduces the recidivism rate.

reparations - payments demanded of the losers in a war by the victors as compensation for damage suffered, usually to civilians and property. For example, heavy reparations were exacted by Britain, France, and the U.S. from Germany after World War I.

repatriation - the sending back of a person to his country of origin, as in the repatriation of prisoners of war.

representation - that which is performed by a representative, delegate, or agent, especially a representative in a legislature.

representative government - a system of government in which the people elect agents to represent them in a legislature.

repression - in politics, refers to crushing of dissent, crackdown on a rebellion, or similar, as in writers and intellectuals fought against government repression.

reprisals - retaliation taken in revenge for some injury suffered, as in, the government decided to take reprisals against the country responsible for terrorist acts.

reprieve - to delay the punishment of, particularly with reference to capital punishment; to give temporary relief to.

republic - the form of government in which ultimate power resides in the people, who elect representatives to participate in decision-making on their behalf. The head of state in a republic is usually an elected president-never a hereditary monarch. A republic is founded on the idea that every citizen has a right to participate, directly or indirectly, in affairs of state, and the general will of the people should be sovereign. The U.S. is a republic.

retaliation - revenge or reprisal, on a tit-for-tat basis. Retaliation is the repaying of an attack by an enemy with an attack on him.

retroactive legislation - legislation that applies to a specified period before the legislation was passed, as well as to the present and future.

reverse discrimination - the term is used by those who oppose affirmative action programs, who say that the effect of such programs is no longer to end discrimination against African Americans but to discriminate against whites.

revisionism - the drastic reevaluation of an accepted theory or doctrine, or historical event or person. A revisionist historian for example, might offer a completely new view of a highly revered figure that shows him in a negative light, or vice versa. President John F. Kennedy and Sir Winston Churchill are two historical figures who have recently been subjected to revisionist treatment by historians.

revolution - a rebellion in which the government is overthrown, usually by force, and a new group of rulers takes over. Sometimes the whole social order is overthrown. Can also refer to any large-scale change in society, as in the Industrial Revolution.

revolutionary - a person who advocates or instigates a revolution; that which causes a drastic change in society.

rhetoric - the art of persuasive and impressive speaking or writing. Can also mean speech or writing that is elaborate or showy or insincere.

right to work - state laws that prohibit collective bargaining agreements made between employers and unions from including the closed shop, or any clauses that mandate union membership for employees.

right-wing - on the far conservative side of the political spectrum, the opposite of left-wing. Right-wing politics usually favors: a free enterprise system in which business is unfettered by government regulation; a strong military; does not favor much spending on social services, and is "tough on crime." The term right-wing can include authoritarians and reactionaries. See also conservative; reactionary.

riot - a violent public disturbance by (in law) three or more people.

royalty - kingship; the office of king or queen; a royal person or persons.

rubber stamp - to approve something in a routine way, without giving the matter much thought.

rule of thumb - a rule about the performing of an action that is based on practical experience rather than theoretical or scientific knowledge. Any way of doing something that works, whether it is technically "correct" or not.

ruling class - the group of people, as a class, that holds power in any society.

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