Decode something a political candidate said
September 24, 2022 10:35 AM   Subscribe

A person running for political office in Canada took part in a debate. He closed his remarks with "keep 'em high and tight." What dog whistle was he trying to send?

The guy was a idiot (his solution to reduce carbon in the city is "sterling engines." He said the electorate deserves a representative who is not "emotional" and "who doesn't run out of the room." The current office holder is a woman. His solution to every problem is the equivalent of "just do it/just fix it."

And no, I can't believe I've actually put this up as a question, but it struck me as such a strange comment that I've been puzzling on it since I heard it.
posted by sardonyx to Writing & Language (15 answers total)
“High and tight” describes crew cuts, buzz cuts, and other haircuts popular with men of an authoritarian bent.
posted by infinitewindow at 10:43 AM on September 24, 2022 [4 favorites]

A “high and tight” is a military haircut a bit like a “crew cut.”
posted by slkinsey at 10:44 AM on September 24, 2022 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I should probably clarify something: I'm familiar with the haircut description, and according to the Internet, it is also a phrase to denote a certain type of men's grooming further south than the hairline. But I thought, perhaps, there was more to it than that.
posted by sardonyx at 10:45 AM on September 24, 2022

The "high and tight" is/was de rigueur amongst various neo-fascists (Proud Boys, etc.) for a while - to the extent that someone asked about it in this very place.

OTOH, the comment you're referencing could have been about testicles? Seriously.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:46 AM on September 24, 2022 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Also, the dude was in no way, shape or form military-esque. Laidback slacker was more his style.
posted by sardonyx at 10:46 AM on September 24, 2022

Have you seen the mention here? It seems to be used by the fandom of that show. (Looks like it's your *jeans* you should keep high and tight?)
posted by sagc at 10:49 AM on September 24, 2022 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Don't discount the possibility that he heard the phrase somewhere, did not actually understand it, and just repeated it to sound cool or part of whatever group he thinks it would appeal to.
posted by ananci at 10:55 AM on September 24, 2022 [31 favorites]

Urban Dictionary has several definitions that aren’t about haircuts (scroll down)
posted by nouvelle-personne at 11:05 AM on September 24, 2022

I believe it's also a baseball term for a pitch that's high and inside, used to brush back a hitter that's crowding the plate. Maybe he's meaning it as a clumsy way of saying "don't let them get too comfortable, keep them on the defensive?"
posted by platinum at 11:47 AM on September 24, 2022 [7 favorites]

You said he does not currently present as military-esque, but I wonder if he either has/had close family members who were/are, friends, connections - something to bring that into his line of thinking. It would fit well as a military-ish reference, especially with your description of his desires for "non-emotional" leadership.

Quotes because that often doesn't really mean a lack of emotions, just an inability/refusal to access the full spectrum of emotion. Often, the primary is anger, with sprinklings of disgust and/or fear.
posted by stormyteal at 12:28 PM on September 24, 2022 [3 favorites]

Also, they are Stirling Engines -- and they are not exactly hogwash, but certainly no fix for climate change.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:22 PM on September 24, 2022

So many ways to interpret this. This guy will go far.
posted by charlesminus at 8:13 AM on September 25, 2022 [1 favorite]

If this is about testicles, being retracted and the scrotum condensed can arise in cold events or fight/ flight events.

Sterlings aren't a bad idea for nighttime generation of energy (heat up boluses of rocks during the day, exploit the temperature differential during the night) - but it's not nearly cost effective.
posted by porpoise at 9:45 AM on September 25, 2022

Conversely - there's a saying "give your balls a tug" - to tell someone to relax, in a confrontational way.
posted by porpoise at 12:07 PM on September 25, 2022

Response by poster: I'm marking ananci's as best answer, since I have so little respect for the guy, that I'm just going to assume he doesn't know what he's talking about and was trying to be funny. That would be in line the rest of his debate performance.

Mind you, it could very well be a haircut/right-wing dog whistle. That "emotional" line really felt like a shot against women to me, but that could be my own bias showing. If it's about other parts of his male anatomy, then I just can't fathom why he'd think that was something appropriate to say, but then again, I'm often dumbfounded as to what people think is appropriate.

The guy has no website and I haven't seen any campaign literature from him, so I don't know anything about his background. A newspaper column described him as a "student" but if so, he must be a mature one, as I think he looks older than the traditional post-secondary student (although, under his bushy mountain-man beard, it's a bit hard to tell.) Because I have zero insights into his background, I can't say one way or the other if he is affiliated with military people. The only speculation I can make about that is that I'd say it's unlikely. He shares a last name that is common in a certain ethnic community in town. Members of that community have a habit of going into the construction and contracting trades and aren't known (generally) for their military service.

Sadly, I suspect charlesminus is correct. I can see this guy appealing to a certain type of voter, and while I don't think he has a chance of winning this election, given his competition, I can see him coming back again and again until he wins something. He just seems the type that's convinced he's got all the answers, even when he has none.
posted by sardonyx at 10:37 AM on September 26, 2022

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