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What is IOKIYAR?

Michael Pollick
Updated May 17, 2024
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IOKIYAR is an acronym which stands for It's OK If You're A Republican, referring to allegations of hypocritical behavior by powerful members of the Republican party. Someone making this allegation might charge, for example, that a Republican-led commission may grill a Democratic official for days about an alleged ethics violation, but spend only a few hours questioning a Republican official for a similar ethics complaint. The idea is that unethical or illegal behavior by the ruling party is protected by an unspoken IOKIYAR mentality. Clearly, not all Democrats support this concept, and some Republicans might support IOKIYAD: It's OK If You're A Democrat.

One claimed example of IOKIYAR in action concerned the impeachment proceedings brought against former president Bill Clinton, an influential member of the Democratic party. The accusations included lying under oath and obstruction of justice, both in connection to an extramarital affair. The impeachment, which many believed was orchestrated by conservative Republican opponents of Clinton, ultimately failed, but it did expose other examples of political wrongdoing.

Many Democrats later raised a point that many of the same Republican leaders who led the charge against Clinton on moral and ethical grounds were later proven to have committed similar personal and professional acts. Former Republican representative Newt Gingrich, for example, admitted to having an extramarital affair at the same time he publicly condemned Clinton for the Lewinsky affair. Other Republican officials were named as clients of prostitution rings or outed as homosexuals during this same time period. This hypocrisy gave rise to the derisive acronym IOKIYAR, used primarily by Democratic political pundits and bloggers.

One of the underlying causes of the IOKIYAR phenomenon is the close association between religious conservatism and the Republican party as a whole. Many Republican candidates were elected based on their strong ties to Christianity and the moral and ethical behavior it suggests. Republican leaders who loudly and publicly denounce a Democratic politician's unethical or immoral behavior often cite their own religious leanings as evidence of their own propriety. Under the IOKIYAR philosophy, a conservative Republican caught in a moral or ethical scandal can justify his or her behavior more readily than a liberal Democrat possibly could.

It goes without saying that many Republicans object to this term and the implications behind it. Obviously, IOKIYAD could start to appear on political blogs, if it hasn't already. The essential idea behind IOKIYAR is that hypocritical or morally questionable behavior could be downplayed by the ruling group even as members of another group are vilified for lesser offenses or peccadilloes.

America Explained is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Pollick
By Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to America Explained, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range of topics. His curiosity drives him to study subjects in-depth, resulting in informative and engaging articles. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael honed his skills as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.
Discussion Comments
By anon315225 — On Jan 23, 2013

@anon310789: "The lady doth protest too much, methinks."

By anon310789 — On Dec 27, 2012

"Obviously, IOKIYAD could start to appear on political blogs, if it hasn't already."

Obviously Democrats aren't moral authoritarians who are constantly caught committing the very acts they preach against, so IOKIYAD would just be more Republican dishonesty.

By anon282278 — On Jul 28, 2012

So a site defines a term, and people pop up claiming bias? Get over yourselves!

I'll make it really clear for them: If they had said, "IOKIYAR is a correct evaluation of the republican party, as it is rife with hypocrisy", then people could claim bias. But if they just define it, so that people know what it means, and people claim bias, that's just wrong.

By anon249714 — On Feb 21, 2012

I have no dog in Republican/Democratic partisan politics, and am the most fair-minded, logical person you could ever ask to analyze a political question. The wisegeek.com entry is even-handed and cites facts which point up the meaning of this term. This thread is hereby closed. Thank you. Have a day.

By anon184324 — On Jun 08, 2011

Goodness gracious, the replies to this article remind me of how a bunch of men will sit around telling "stupid chick jokes" but you say one thing out of place, they are calling you vile, sexist names in a "How dare you?" mouth frothing.

(Did I just do that?)

And I'm sorry, I cannot believe we're supposed to take a post seriously by someone who hearkens back to "Moses".

By anon49135 — On Oct 17, 2009

Ooh, you stepped on some toes by being neutral. Some equate neutrality with supporting us ultra-left-wing socialists. Oogah-Boogah!

By knittingpro — On May 13, 2009

Thank God, nobreather and frankjoseph, for your level-headedness. (And I'm not being sarcastic!) It's hard to take anyone seriously who uses phrases like "The Dems are everywhere," or "rampant idiotic leftists" or say that all Democrats are lacking in morals. For the record, if someone said any of those things about Republicans or right-wingers I would be equally skeptical. Quit lumping all people together. People are individuals, and in any group, there are ridiculous ones and very rational ones. And, by the way, nobreather makes an excellent point. Probably someone asked the question "What does IOKIYAR mean?" and the site answered it. In a fair and balanced way. Look at these statements from the article: " Clearly, not all Democrats support this concept, and some Republicans might support an IOKIYAD: It's OK If You're A Democrat." and "IOKIYAR is an acronym which stands for It's OK If You're A Republican, referring to allegations of hypocritical behavior by powerful members of the Republican party." *Allegations.* Goodness. If someone wrote a report on Hitler, are they a neo-Nazi? Yes, I just enacted Godwin's Rule of Nazi Analogies. Sorry about that.

By nobreather — On May 13, 2009

i am surprised by the firestorm that this article has received here in the comments. it seems clear to me that the article is a neutral response to a question. although i am an independent, i don't understand how anyone could be offended by the answering of a question.

i hope all the posters realize that merely answering a question does not indicate a particular bias. answering the question "what is a nazi" does not make one a fascist, and answering the question "what is a vegan" does not make one anti-meat.

By anon31920 — On May 13, 2009

Is it only those with standards who can be hypocritical? I suppose by definition if one has no standards, one cannot be hypocritical.

So far as moral and ethical lapses are concerned, the Democrats have not distinguished themselves by never having had any.

All of us fail to live up to the highest level of behavior. It has been 3200 years since Moses is reported to have gone up on Mount Sinai. The people then couldn't even behave for the short time he was gone. Are we doing any better? Of course, a good many reject any religious basis for guidance about how to act so reference to any religion would fall on deaf ears.

Is our society lurching toward lawlessness? So far at that goes our laws are not all that good anyway and the legal system has been kidnapped or bastardized into doing things that are not appropriate.

At its best the law codifies the values of a society. Does our society have the proper values?

Donald W. Bales

By anon31918 — On May 13, 2009

Love it. And it's so true. Naturally, any self-respecting Republican will quickly contest any slight suggestion against the integrity of their almighty party. See, it is primarily built on mere appearances rather than actual substance. The common, albeit purile tactic, is misdirection. The problem is we quickly forget these "evil-doers" (Bush, Rumsfeld, Rove, Cheney, anyone?) and allow them to indulge distractions of much lesser importance. Not any longer. America is waking up. And it's about time.

By anon31914 — On May 13, 2009

Ouch! Facts can be painful as seen by the reaction to this article. Especially when hypocrisy is publicly unmasked. What can you say besides claiming outrage?

By anon31910 — On May 13, 2009

Nice propaganda.

Should be IOKIYAR because rampant idiotic leftists will dominate the media to push idiotic socialist agendas, and if you are against them, they will persecute you for your logic.

This site is not political, please don’t keep it that way.

If your aim was to offend (like most lefties), you’ve done it. In true fashion you have also done it with out credible facts and nothing but sarcastic insult. Way to be divisive. Just what we all need.

By anon31902 — On May 13, 2009

I have long felt that this site was sort of Liberal, but how in the WORLD can you compare Newt Ginrich with the likes of Bill Clinton? Have you tried making Ben Frankin List?

By anon31901 — On May 13, 2009

Why in the world would you post this? This type of one-sided biased article does not make me smarter. Wow, the Dems are everywhere......sickening. I guess it is possible that the internet will be regulated very soon, Big Brother coming near you.

By Diwiyana — On May 13, 2009

I hadn't seen this one or heard it. But then I wouldn't, living in the heart of the Bible Belt.

By screenwriter — On May 13, 2009

The editing for this site is clearly bent in one direction! Not all POV's are welcome. Good-bye!

By anon31885 — On May 13, 2009

Geek is off the mark here; Bill Clinton surely was impeached, and not for any immoral transgressions, but for perjury.

By frankjoseph — On May 13, 2009

It should be IOIYPOMG: it's OK if you're part of my group. Most people give preferential treatment to their own group members. Politicians, people of the same religion, race, and perhaps most commonly family members.

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to America Explained, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a...
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