When liberalism held sway and cachet, to be "politically correct" meant that one talked in a certain self-conscious liberal way that came to resemble nothing so much as the quacking of ducks in a Republican carnival shooting gallery.
Liberals are vanquished, the ducks are all shot. Conservatives won -- but with power comes the mantle of the New Political Correctness. Take notes, class. There will be a quiz in 2006.
Moral Values: Conventional wisdom has it that the 2004 federal election was decided by Moral Values. Moral Values are what Republicans have. Democrats have fuzzy, relative values. The difference is best illustrated by mathematics.
Republican values can be summed up by simple equations like "Faith in God equals Good." Or "Patriotism is Good." Or "Abortion is Bad." Or "the French are really, really bad and season their food intemperately." To understand Democratic values, you need knowledge of multivariate calculus, which is only taught at elitist institutions in New England and California.
If a Democrat professes to have Moral Values, you can be sure there is some trickery afoot. A Democrat will always attempt to contaminate the basic Republican Moral Value equations by introducing new variables such as social justice, privacy and health care.
The First Rule of the New Political Correctness is that the Party that Wins the Election gets First Dibs on the Use of Capital Letters to Describe Its Positions. Blue states have to roll over on this one. Red states have Moral Values. Blue states have qualms with Moral Values, which can best be described as "issues," of the sort that are best dealt with in psychoanalysis, which also helps create jobs. Issues are referred to using lower-case letters.
The Christian Right: No, no, no, no, no, no, no. No. They don't like to be called that anymore, according to ABC News, as reported by Slate. It's a slur, and saying that a churchgoer belongs to the "Christian Right" is now just about as bad as saying that a gay person is a member of "The Hell-bound Pervert Tribe." No one is sure, yet, where this leaves gay conservatives like Andrew Sullivan, other than as chronically disappointed.
The Christian Right, which once upon a time called itself the "Moral Majority," is now to be called just "Evangelical Christians," according to Peter Jennings, who rejected their first choice of "Avatars of Niceness." The preference of Democrats for "Faith-Based Life Forms" was doomed to irrelevance by the election results.
Liberals: Liberals can continue to be called "Liberals" for so long as even one of the blockheaded, pseudointellectual elitists embraces the term or for four more years, whichever is longer. When encountering a "Liberal" on the street, an Evangelical Christian should resist the urge to use an offensive greeting such as "Who's your daddy?"
Republicans: There is currently no English word or phrase to describe a state of federal government in which Republicans firmly control all the moving parts, since the situation has been hypothetical since the time of Calvin Coolidge, when, perhaps coincidentally, cocktails were illegal. The electorate rejected the Liberal choice of "Fascism" and those intemperates who persist in using it can reasonably expect to feel the jackboot of freedom on their larynxes. Karl Rove's suggestion - "The Permanent Majority" - requires more than four more years of testing, or a constitutional amendment, before it can be accepted for use.
Democrats: Democrats are either "Liberals" or they are "Conservative Democrats." A "Conservative Democrat" is in a political pupa stage; when one emerges from its cocoon, it looks remarkably like Zell Miller. The term "New Democrat," which gained currency in the '90s, is old. It now refers only to disaffected youth voters, who are easy to tell apart from Young Republicans.
Conservative(s): In general, with the exception noted above, Republicans have free use of the word "Conservative" (upper case) as an adjective or noun. Conservatism is a Republican virtue embraced to at least some extent by all supporters of President Bush.
Political Capital: Political Capital is what President Bush earned in winning the election, and he can spend it as he pleases. Unless your name is Alan Greenspan, it is offensive to suggest that his Political Capital is borrowed and will be paid for by disaffected youth voters and Young Republicans.
God: See "Moral Values." Politically, God (uppercase) is Good, and He (masculine) is particularly Good for Republicans. It is, however, offensive for Republicans, who can afford a little magnanimity, to refer to Liberals as being godless. "Leaderless" will do fine.
The clear and expressed Will of the People (by about 3 percent) is that God opposes gay marriage, abortion rights and the development of alternative energy sources, while favoring nation-building in Iraq (which is near where He was born) and drilling for oil in national parks. God is ambivalent about the federal deficit and suspicious of the United Nations, where He lacks a plurality.
Heartlanders: People from states in which President Bush won a majority should be called "Heartlanders," with warmth and enthusiasm. (Note upper case). New Yorkers should stop referring to them as "(expletive) tourists."
Liberal Republicans: "Liberal Republican" has become an oxymoron and is politically incorrect except when used for historical authenticity, as in, "Lowell Weicker was a Liberal Republican, and you saw what happened to him." Supporters of President Bush who are not Evangelical Christians, Conservative Republicans or just independent-minded Heartlanders should be referred to as "moderate Republicans," as in, "Evangelical Christians don't really trust moderates such as Arnold Schwarzenegger or Rudy Giuliani but they don't loathe them as they do Liberals."
Moderate Republicans: Under party rules, moderate Republicans can become governors of states or even U.S. senators, providing they do not aspire to become chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
Mandate: For now, it is politically incorrect for either Evangelical Christians or Liberals to publicly suggest that President Bush has or claims a "Mandate" from God. You can, however, celebrate or mock the idea in the privacy of your own brain during Supreme Court-sanctioned moments of silence, as you choose.
The president's Mandate comes from the 3 million voters who provided his margin over John Kerry, all of whom are invited to the Inaugural Ball.
John Kerry// Should generally be referred to as "Vanquished Opponent No. 2." Avoid the use of the proper name unless absolutely necessary. This will distinguish him from "Vanquished Opponent No. 1," what's-his-name.
Religion: Hear this, liberals: Saying that one favors the separation of church and state is no longer a knee-jerk applause line and is not the Politically Correct interpretation of the Constitution. Faith is "in." You can whine and make sarcastic comments about "faith-based government" but that is just plain wrong now. It is niggling at the Moral Value of "Faith in Government Equals Good" and marks you as a loser.
The Second Rule of the New Political Correctness is that Religion is Mostly Good. The "mostly" part is a little disturbing to both Red Staters and Blue Staters, to be sure, for different reasons. It leaves room for interpretation. But God has a Big Tent, and we can count on our elected officials to work out the details of who sits where.
War: Wars, military or otherwise, should no longer be referred to as being "in" or "of" places, as characterized principally by their location. Never say, for example, "The War in Iraq" or the "Battle of Fallujah." The phrases lend themselves to use with negative and offensive words such as "quagmire" and "unwinnable."
Wars are to be referred to by what they are "for" or "against" (or "on"), as in the "War on Terror" or the "Fight for a Free Iraq." Note that we still have a semipopular "War on Drugs" long after we gave up on the " War in Vietnam."
Help is on the Way: All catch phrases associated with President Bush's opponent in the 2004 election are now returned to their original purposes. "Help is on the Way" is a phrase so annoying that I never want to hear it again unless I have fallen down a mineshaft.
Jeff Schult is a writer and recovering political junkie living in Seymour.