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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
armed resistance to authority or government,
similar to revolution.
- 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.
- 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
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.
a change or modification of something that
refugee - a person
who has been driven out of his homeland by war or
natural disaster and who seeks safety in
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
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
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.
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
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
retroactive legislation -
legislation that applies to a specified period
before the legislation was passed, as well as to
the present and future.
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
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
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
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.
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