For the past couple of years, the most important word in American politics has been the worst — “rigged.”
Emanating from slang back in the 17th century, developing into a description of financial fraud, and then branching out to apply to cheating in sports and elections, “rigged” had a breakthrough year in 2016, and it shows no sign of loosening its grip.
It is a word of grievance and conspiracy. It is a word of institutional distrust. It is a word of larger forces beyond our control taking advantage of us. It is a word that says, “We wuz robbed — and we will make them pay.”
In short, it is the perfect term for a fevered era in our national life.
“Rigged” began to get its currency as a charge thrown around by the anti-globalization movement and left-wing critics of income inequality. The anti-poverty group Oxfam issued a report in 2002 on globalization called “Rigged Rules and Double Standards.” The word popped up during the heyday of Occupy Wall Street. So it wasn’t unexpected that Bernie Sanders made the “rigged” economy a rallying cry. (Read more from “The Worst Word in American Politics” HERE)