The political world is a big bowl of alphabet soup. Turn on the TV or open up your favorite newspaper and the talking heads of the world will rattle off about how the EPA and the ACLU have teamed up with the FDIC to fight against the POTUS to circumvent NATO and CBO and increase our GDP. Did that make any sense to you? No, probably not. Government is full of acronyms, and as young politically active people, we often find ourselves googling or scratching our heads trying to figure out which acronym means what. No matter how smart you are, acronyms can get the best of all of us, so we’re going to break down nine of the most necessary acronyms for you to know in government.

1. POTUS-President of the United States

In a world where the newspapers want to cram in every word, you’ll often read the term “POTUS” when reading about Obama, and it will likely continue use into the next administration, whether that be under Trump or Clinton. It is also the President’s Twitter handle, which is definitely something our Founding Fathers never anticipated. Likewise, FLOTUS is the Twitter handle and preferred acronym for the First Lady, Michelle Obama. No word yet on what acronym would be used for Bill Clinton if Hillary Clinton wins the presidency.

2. SCOTUS-Supreme Court of the United States

SCOTUS stands for the Supreme Court of the United States, and while we don’t hear much about them expect when they make rulings, especially in the summer, it is still a good term to know. In this election, you’ll likely hear all about potential “SCOTUS picks” for each candidates and “SCOTUS decisions” they want to overturn, whether that is Roe v Wade or Citizens United.

3. HB-House Bill

It’s hard enough to follow legislation when it is created so often, but the denotation “HB” doesn’t make it any easier, especially when political pundits toss it around like it is the word “the” and everyone is used to it. HB stands for House Bill which, you guessed it, is a bill or piece of legislation started in the House, whether on the state or federal level. The most famous example in our current news cycle is North Carolina’s HB2, dubbed the “Transgender Bathroom Bill,” which places limitations on bathroom use relative to gender at birth.

4. FDIC-Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation

You know how some people put money under their mattresses because they don’t trust banks? The FDIC is designed to fight that urge. The creation of the FDIC in 1933, during the Great Depression, insured your money and your bank, so please stop keeping thousands of dollars in mattress or hollowed books or whatever you kids are doing these days.

5. FAA-Federal Aviation Administration

Are you glad your pilot isn’t drunk? That your airplane has a seat belt and air conditioning and a full tank of gas? Do you watch CNN’s insistent coverage of plane crashes and wonder why we don’t see disappearing planes in our country? That’s because of a little think known as the FAA, a federal authority that regulates civil aviation in the United States. 

6. FDA-Food and Drug Administration

Food recalls? Safe drugs? The Food and Drug Administration is one of those executive departments that you hate and love almost simultaneously. Yes, they keep us safe from fun E.coli infections at Chipotle and the like, but they also make pharmaceutical companies jump through hoops to get approval for drugs, which many speculate is the reason that so many diseases haven’t been cured or aren’t able to be properly treated. They certainly make life a bit harder for food and drug companies, but as an average citizen, I’m grateful for the lack of mad cow disease in our meat supply and safe drugs.

7. FEC-Federal Election Commission

Why are US elections not nearly as fraudulent as those in other countries, despite the hard work of the DNC? Why can’t you donate a million dollars directly to your city councilman candidate? That’s because the FEC was created in 1975. The FEC is tasked with making sure that proper campaign finances are disclosed, that funding is handled appropriately, et cetera. The FEC sets the rules that say you can only give so much to a candidate and so much to a PAC, and so on and so forth. They also play a role in monitoring campaign finance abuse, such as foreign donations to US candidates, which may come to play a role in the 2016 election.

8. NATO-North American Trade Organization

Even though it has been in effect since the end of WWII, NATO is getting a lot of media time these days. NATO is an international, intergovernmental military alliance between countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, Belgium, France, Germany, Spain, Turkey, Poland, and others. NATO’s website says that their mission is to safeguard the freedom and security of its members through political and military means. Basically, that is why we care about military coups in Turkey and terror attacks in France and Belgium on more than just a human basis. That’s our ally you’re messing with.

9. IRS-Internal Revenue Service

Hate the hassle of filing out the endless stack of tax forms? Fear the word audit more than you fear the dentist? That’s because of the Internal Revenue Service, the body designed to collect taxes that has been accused of overstepping their boundaries and getting political, especially against conservative and Tea Party groups. You’ll be hard pressed to find someone who likes the IRS, and then you have people like Ted Cruz who want to abolish it completely. We all know taxes are kind of a necessary evil, to some degree, but the IRS doesn’t make it any easier.

Aryssa D
FFL Cabinet Member