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The art of the compromise
Hold your nose and close your eyes
We want our leaders to save the day
But we don’t get a say in what they trade away
— “The Room Where It Happens,” Hamilton

Tropes that are related to governmental systems, political ideologies, policies, and practices, and the way they shape historical/current events in both fiction and the real world.

Political facts and useful notes can be found on the Useful Notes index. Please be double-plus mindful of the Rule of Cautious Editing Judgement.

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    General politics tropes 

    Mass media politics 
  • Backed by the Pentagon: The entertainment industry maintains business connections with the national government; for example, Hollywood asking the US Department of Defense to loan military equipment for use in films.
  • Banned in China: A work of media has been (legally) prohibited from being released or distributed in a specific country.
  • Book Burning: The physical desecration of literature, which may be done as an act of politically motivated censorship (or protest).
  • Convicted by Public Opinion: When the public pre-assumes someone's guilt based on their feelings rather than facts.
  • Distanced from Current Events: When media gets censored in order to avoid accidentally drawing parallels to controversial news stories from real life.
  • Media Watchdog: Activist groups who want to protest or censor objectionable content in the media, perhaps for ideological reasons.
  • Movement Mascot: When a fictional character becomes political.
  • No Swastikas: Media depicting Nazi Germany avoids any display of swastikas.
  • Nuclear Weapons Taboo
  • Political Correctness Gone Mad: The belief that society has gone to pot because too many people are overly concerned about being politically correct.
  • Propaganda Machine: When mass media is used as an instrument of state propaganda that promotes the government's policies.
    • Wartime Cartoon: Animated films as pro-war propaganda, meant to instill viewers with militaristic and nationalistic sentiments against the enemy.
  • Propaganda Piece: A work of media or entertainment which was intended to politically indoctrinate its viewers.
  • Protest Song: A song protesting some political policy or official.
    • Anti-Police Song: A song specifically protesting against police/law enforcement.

    Political officials and citizens 

    Political concepts and philosophies 

    Political actions and policies 

    Democratic and bureaucratic politics 

    Rebellious and repressive politics 
  • 2 + Torture = 5: Torturing prisoners into accepting a government-mandated idea that is factually (often obviously) false.
  • Apocalyptic Gag Order: An apocalyptic event is on the way but the government denies it or keeps knowledge of it under wraps.
  • Anarcho-Tyranny: A corrupt government or tyrannical regime creates a state of perpetual lawlessness, so that everyone is too busy fighting each other to worry about them, which is criminal neglect on a nationwide scale.
  • Assassination Attempt: Government officials and political activists of all kinds tend to attract enemies who want them to be killed, sometimes successfully.
  • Ban on Politics: Discussion of politics is forbidden or taboo in this place.
  • Banana Republic: An expy of a Latin American country, usually portrayed as being poor and weak due to being ruled by a cruel and/or incompetent leader.
  • Big Brother Is Employing You: A character, up to and including the protagonist, works for the dystopian government.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: Mass surveillance of the general population by state security forces.
  • Bigot with a Badge: A racist law enforcement officer.
  • Bread and Circuses: When media, entertainment, and other distractions are used to keep the masses too content and stupid to care about whatever shady shit that the government or corporations are up to.
  • Broken-System Dogmatist: Someone defends a broken sociopolitical system, even if it's clear it's beyond saving.
  • Burning the Flag: The desecration of a national flag (whether of one's own country or a foreign one), often as a statement of protest.
  • Les Collaborateurs: Traitors who actively serve a foreign military occupation in their own country.
  • Conscription: When the state legally forces people to join the military rather than only recruiting volunteers. Can become a political controversy when draft-dodgers and anti-war activists oppose the practice.
    • Draft Dodging: Someone refuses to follow draft laws which compel them to enlist in the military, whether out of moral/political/religious beliefs or for more personal (self-serving) reasons.
  • The Coup: The current government leader(s) get overthrown and replaced by some of their own subordinates.
    • Military Coup: When military commanders seize power from (usually civilian) government leaders.
  • Crushing the Populace: A ruler of a newly-conquered land proceeds to oppress much of its population.
  • Day of the Jackboot: A democracy is successfully taken over by evil dictators.
  • The Dictatorship: An autocratic government where every decision is made by one person.
  • Dystopian Edict: A dystopian nation is built around one very specific, very absurd law.
  • Eco-Terrorist: An individual or organization commits violent acts in the name of protecting nature/the environment.
  • Emergency Authority: A public official is given more power than they normally have in order to deal with an emergency situation, which often ends badly.
  • Fantastic Terrorists: Terrorists in a Speculative Fiction setting.
  • Fascists' Bedtime: Curfews. Never leave home with them.
  • Final Solution: Genocide, or the systematic mass murder of entire ethnic/religious communities that are strongly despised and persecuted by the state.
  • Full-Circle Revolution: When an old tyrannical government gets replaced by another new government that is just as (if not even more) repressive as the old regime.
  • Happiness Is Mandatory: Pretend that you're completely okay with your mediocre living conditions or else...
  • I Own This Town
  • Icon of Rebellion
  • Illegal Religion: The government bans an entire religious sect, and punishes anyone caught practicing it.
  • The Kingslayer: Someone who has committed regicide (the murder of a monarch).
  • Mandatory Motherhood
  • Newspeak
  • No Adequate Punishment
  • Only Serves for Life
  • Oppressive States of America: A dystopian version of the United States of America.
  • People's Republic of Tyranny: The common tendency for dictatorships to (poorly) masquerade as democracies.
  • Police Brutality: It can become politically charged when law enforcement officers engage in excessively violent force against political protesters and anti-government dissidents. Also, the whole phenomenon of police violence can inspire protests and activism against this specifically.
  • Police State: Totalitarian regimes make sure to monitor and control as much of their citizens' lives as possible.
  • Population Control: The government tries to keep their country's population from growing out of control, usually through coercive methods (like forced abortions and sterilizations).
  • Reign of Terror: The government (or revolutionary forces) ruthlessly crack down on all people who are part of the opposition, both real and imagined.
  • Renegade Splinter Faction: A faction splits off from its parent group due to ideological differences, and is often considered dangerous (or at least more dangerous than the parent group).
  • La Résistance: Underground rebel forces who oppose the current regime in power.
  • Revolutionaries Who Don't Do Anything: Activists who talk a great deal about overthrowing the government or resisting political corruption, but don't actually try to even make any meaningful changes to the status quo.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Bureaucratized: A regime was just overthrown, Now What?
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: Rebels and revolutionaries are not too merciful towards pro-government loyalists (or even their own allies who start getting the wrong ideas).
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Vilified: A rebel revolutionary force are the good guys.
  • Revolving Door Revolution: A politically unstable country keeps getting new governments that seem to rise and fall with the changing seasons.
  • Right-Wing Militia Fanatic: Extremist conservatives who really like their guns and violence, and really dislike the government.
  • Slavery Is a Special Kind of Evil: Slavery is such an awful violation of human rights, that it has inspired political movements to legally abolish this system.
    • Slave Liberation: Freeing people who live in forced servitude, whether by peaceful or violent means.
  • Staged Populist Uprising: A populist uprising that is actually being led by an outsider who isn't loyal to the people's cause.
  • The Stateless: Someone who is not a citizen or national of any sovereign nation-state. Sometimes this can be done voluntarily, but otherwise it happens because no country is willing to legally recognize them (or the government of their homeland may have even forcibly stripped them of their former citizenship/nationality).
  • Super Registration Act: When the state attempts to legally regulate superhuman beings with special powers, or at least costumed vigilantes and costumed criminals.
  • Thousand-Year Reign: A faction declares it will rule for a very, very long time.
  • Thoughtcrime: When it's not enough for a totalitarian government to just censor whatever you try to say; they need to ensure you're unable to even feel any disagreement with them.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: A repressive autocrat replaces a former Reasonable Authority Figure.
  • Velvet Revolution: A revolution that is fought with little to no violence (at least, from the rebels).
  • Voice of the Resistance: All rebel propaganda requires a good spokesperson to represent them.
  • Walls of Tyranny: Great big walls are built to remind the people they cannot escape their country's tyrannical rule.
  • We Are Everywhere: A member of a group is taken out, but they assert that other members of that group are so pervasive in society.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: Factions that are nominally allied find it hard to focus on their common enemy because they're too preoccupied with fighting each other.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: Depending on one's personal bias, political militants can be either villains or heroes in their eyes.

    International and interstellar politics