In the public discourse, certain words and phrases become a convenient shorthand for partisans. "Judicial activism," for example, generally means "court rulings that conservatives don't like." Similarly, "socialism," at least in Republican circles, is synonymous with "progressive policymaking."
The shorthand rhetoric is often misleading, and usually lazy, but it also tends to be inconsequential. If anything, the overuse of these words and phrases ultimately strips them of the value that made them worthwhile in the first place.
Donald Trump, however, has his own rhetorical quiver, which he turns to a little too often, routinely pulling one especially provocative arrow. Here, for example, was the tweet the president published overnight.
"I think what the Democrats are doing with the Border is TREASONOUS. Their Open Border mindset is putting our Country at risk. Will not let this happen!"
As everyone involved in the debate already realizes, congressional Democrats do not actually support an open-border policy. The Obama administration increased border security to all-time highs, and Democratic lawmakers have repeatedly tried to work out bipartisan compromises with the White House that would further strengthen border security. Trump has turned down each of the offers.
But it's that first sentence in his tweet that stands out: "I think what the Democrats are doing with the Border is TREASONOUS." What Dems are "doing," in this case, is balking at the president's border agenda -- to the extent that the White House has an actual agenda -- and choosing not to give Trump everything he wants.
A skilled president, at this point, might try to open policy negotiations in the hopes of reaching an agreement. This president turns to Twitter, to accuse his perceived enemies of "treason."
If this sounds familiar, it's because Trump keeps using this same word -- far more than he should -- without fully understanding what it means.