Ultra Vires

Demonstrators rally for voting rights outside the U.S. Supreme Court to hear oral arguments in the Moore v. Harper case on December 7, 2022 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The writer in me appreciates a well-done Orwellian turn of phrase—though the voter in me despises the politics behind it.

Donald Trump’s habit of dismissing his antagonists as “enemies of the people” has a raw old-school charm to it, for instance. There’s no mucking about in that one; it’s a blunt object of demagoguery, true to the man himself.

“Real America,” a favorite of the modern right, is another good one. So is Kellyanne Conway’s immortal “alternative facts.”

The left has its own Orwellian vocabulary, lately preoccupied with (what else?) matters of identity. Theirs is typically more comic than tragic: As Oscar Wilde might have said, one must have a heart of stone to read the term “birthing people” without laughing.

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