The Fourth of July was a great opportunity to celebrate our country’s independence. It was also a perfect time to engage in conversations about our government.

I was at a picnic where one guest was complaining that there were so many unfamiliar terms and expressions throughout all aspects of the government that most of the time he is confused about what is being discussed.

I thought, as a public service, today I would provide definitions to many of the common terms used by our government. I went to the Glossary of Terms in U.S. Government and Politics website, which was very helpful. Unfortunately, my internet connection was so bad that it kept disconnecting before I could copy down any of the definitions; but it really didn’t matter, because so many of the terms in the glossary mean exactly what they sound like they might mean. Today, I will give you all of the definitions you will ever need in order to sound like an expert on the United States. Just fold this list up, put it with your U.S. flag bathing trunks, and break it out next Fourth of July.

Affirm — A term used when you are talking to a salesman and he asks what you are looking for in a new mattress.

Civic Education — When the person you are buying a used Honda from has to explain how to shift gears with a five speed.

Grandfather Clause — Santa’s dad.

Acquisitive Model — A model who asks a lot of questions during a photo shoot.

Monarchy — How you describe a moth that looks a lot like a butterfly.

Block Grant — What opponents tried to do when playing against former NBA star Grant Hill.

Appellate — A tiny piece of compressed wood burned in your stove to produce heat.

Constitutional Democracy — In a house with more than one occupant, this term refers to the bathroom being available in the morning to the first person who gets there.

Dictatorship — Kim Jong-un’s personal yacht.

Emergency Power — The gas generator in your garage.

Flat Tax — Thumbtacks in the road that have been repeatedly run over by cars.

Gag Order — When you call the party store and purchase multiple whoopee cushions.

Gross Domestic Product — Varies country to country. In France, the gross domestic product is escargot.

Isolationism — A fancy term for putting your kid in “time-out.”

Mandate — When two gentlemen go out to dinner.

Nazi — Comes after “Not W,” “Not X” and “Not Y.”

Poll Tax — A levy imposed by the government when an individual purchases a rod [and] reel.

Skewed Sample — When the guy manning the grill at a picnic gives you a taste of the meat from the shish kabob he is cooking.

Watchdog — The job you are getting paid to do when house-sitting for a friend.

Framers — The people who mat and prepare your diploma to be hung.

Anarchy — The device Ann R. uses to open her door.

Closed Primary — In Vermont during mud season, when the main road is only accessible to people who live on that road.

Devolution — The ultimate goal of fans of the ’70s Rock group Devo.

Demand-side Economics — When the person you are playing Monopoly with insists that you throw in Marvin Gardens and the Reading Railroad before she will sell you Boardwalk.

Elector — What fans of Hillary Clinton were advocating in 2016.

Sunshine Law — If the sun is shining, it is a day that you have to be at work.

New Deal — When the casino employee shuffles and gives out a fresh hand.

Deterrence — The reason you call the exterminator.

Government Bond — The spy who was an officer in MI6, Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service.

Loophole — A term that involves crocheting, but is way too complicated to explain in an 800-word column.

Nihilism — An expression that refers to the waterway in Africa i.e., “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt!”

Oversight — The hunting term for when the scope on your rifle is not properly adjusted and you shoot 10 feet higher than your intended target.

Party Activist — The parent who chooses who will come to a child’s birthday celebration and the games that will be played.

Private Bill — My friend, William, who likes to keep to himself.

Sunset Provisions — Making sure there are enough beers in the cooler for the rest of the evening.

Mark S. Albury lives in Northfield Falls.

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