The Art of the Smear: Language, A Key Mechanism of Control by Newt Gingrich

Art by Rob Goldstein
from Language: A Key Mechanism of Control by Newt Gingrich


In 1995 GOPAC was a conservative Republican group whose general chairman was Representative Newt Gingrich.

Gingrich published a handout called Language: A Key Mechanism of Control.

It contained a recommended list of 113 words, for use in attacks on progressive ideas and democrats.

“Words and phrases are powerful,” wrote Gingrich.

“…memorize as many as possible and remember that like any tool, these words will not help if they are not used.”

“Apply these (words) to the opponent, their record, proposals, and their party.”

Newt Gingrich proposed that republicans take control of the nation’s
political discourse by using negative language to smear democrats and their ideas.

The words on his list were: “traitors, betray, sick, pathetic, lie, liberal, radical, hypocrisy, corruption, permissive attitude, greed, self-serving, ideological, anti-flag, anti-family, anti-child, anti-jobs, unionized bureaucracy, impose, and coercion.”

Republicans called their opponents “sick, pathetic, incompetent, liberal traitors whose self-serving permissive attitudes promote a unionized bureaucracy and an anti-flag, anti-family, anti-child, anti-job ideology.”


• abuse of power
• anti- (issue): flag, family, child, jobs
• betray
• bizarre
• bosses
• bureaucracy
• cheat
• coercion
• “compassion” is not enough
• collapse(ing)
• consequences
• corrupt
• corruption
• criminal rights
• crisis
• cynicism
• decay
• deeper
• destroy
• destructive
• devour
• disgrace
• endanger
• excuses
• failure (fail)
• greed
• hypocrisy
• ideological
• impose
• incompetent
• insecure
• insensitive • intolerant
• liberal
• lie
• limit(s)
• machine
• mandate(s)
• obsolete
• pathetic
• patronage
• permissive attitude
• pessimistic
• punish (poor …)
• radical
• red tape
• self-serving
• selfish
• sensationalists
• shallow
• shame
• sick
• spend(ing)
• stagnation
• status quo
• steal
• taxes
• they/them
• threaten
• traitors
• unionized
• urgent (cy)
• waste
• welfare

To be clear, Newt Gingrich and the Republican Party did not offer 113 new policies that republican candidates might use to win an honest campaign.

They decided instead to poison the political debate by smearing Democrats and

They decided to cheat.

In our democracy the people are the government.

As citizens we pay taxes into a common fund which we use to promote the public good.

The public good is public education, housing, healthcare, and nutrition for our children.

We provide access to these essentials because a person without class mobility is not truly free.

It’s time to take our language back from these political opportunists.

These are my new affirmations, repeat after me:

Smear campaigns are not public policy

I am a citizen, not a consumer.

Words have meaning.

I will not be conned.

This year I will #VoteBlue

RG 2015








14 thoughts on “The Art of the Smear: Language, A Key Mechanism of Control by Newt Gingrich

  1. This is an excellent article. It’s amazing the extent to which the language that Gingrich appropriated has become common currency, particularly in online interactions. Yes, we should make an effort to take out language back and to use it in a thoughtful way. Language can be a powerful tool to unite us if we make the effort to use it that way.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent post, as always……I am chagrinned to realize that this word, “consumer,” has been co-opted by, well, everyone from Newt to Uncle Sam (Walton). When I was a medical student in the 1980’s, Big Corporate “Medicine” loomed on the horizon, waiting for its opportunity to gobble up everything. A group of forward-looking citizens in my county formed the “(C) County Health Care Consumers” as a way to fight back against the tide that seemed, at that time, as if it could be beaten back if only the “consumers” of health care would band together, stand up for our rights to be more than numbers in some juggernaut’s computers….but look, it has turned against us and now we are consumers of corporate “health care” services in the same sense as we are consumers of the billions of pounds of necessary and unnecessary goods we buy every day……and maybe we grouse a bit about the crappy tee shirt made in China, but we swallow billions of pills made in dubious factories in India, with brand names like “Dr. Reddy’s”–like my antipsychotic pills, not a trivial thing! As you see, Rob, you have touched a nerve with me. It is a sad, sad thing. I wanted to be a horse-and-buggy doctor when I grew up, and I still do…but in order to serve the “consumers,” I need to have malpractice insurance, and process their “health insurance” claims, both of which I refuse to do. So I guess I will have to hope for that in another life, or else wave goodbye to that dream, too bad for everyone. Thanks for this post! –Laura


  3. I think that this is actually true of a lot of places worldwide, not just America . And to be honest, I’ve never thought about how wrong it sounded, it just seemed normal to be described as consumers. As always, your blog topics are usually very informative:)


    1. I agree with you tat this is more widespread, but what I know is the United States-

      I have always been bothered by what what I consider
      a demotion in status from citizen to consumer…Thank you for reading my blog, I am very appreciative of your comment…:)

      Liked by 1 person

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