Washington Post’s (April 15) carries an article under the title, “Hillary Clinton sounded a little like Elizabeth Warren in 2008, too” accompanied with the following lead copy.

“Hillary Clinton's announcement video Sunday included a clear-as-day shout-out to Elizabeth Warren. "The deck is stacked" against average Americans, Clinton argued, echoing Warren's "System is rigged" mantra.” From The Washington Post.

AP Radio News (April 13) also reported that:

"The former First lady, Senator and Secretary of State jumped into the race in an online video. She wants to be the champion of average American, adding "the deck is still stacked in favor of those of the top."

What does "The deck is stacked (against average Americans / in favor of those of the top)” mean? Could you paraphrase it in plain words?

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    It should be noted that you're not quoting a campaign "slogan", given the normal definition of that term. A "slogan" is a term chosen to appear on signs, bumper stickers, and other advertising. At most it might qualify as a "pet phrase" of Ms Clinton at this stage. If repeated often enough it could become a de-facto "slogan", however. (Note too that politicians tend to reuse the same speech several times during a campaign, so one is not surprised to hear the same phrases several times.)
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 16, 2015 at 0:06

1 Answer 1


As I understand it in normal card game it would mean someone manually prepared the cards so they know what is coming (have advantage)

In the context of the speech I think it means that average Americans are at disadvantage.

Similar to system is rigged in your post.

stack the deck (against someone or something) and stack the cards (against someone or something)

- to arrange things against someone or something; to arrange things secretly for a desired outcome. (From card playing where a cheater may arrange the order of the cards - stack the deck - that are to be dealt to the players.) - I can't get ahead at my office. Someone has stacked the cards against me. Do you really think that someone has stacked the deck? Isn't it just fate? - TFD idioms

  • "As I understand it in normal card game it would mean someone manually prepared the cards so they know what is coming" Correct, but keep in mind the implication that said preparation is dishonest/cheating (as stated after, in your quote). Apr 15, 2015 at 16:04
  • @AlecGilliland Are there any card games where you manually set the card order and it isn't cheating?
    – Shane
    Apr 15, 2015 at 16:12
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    @Shane: In Magic: The Gathering, there are several cards that allow you to look through your (or an opponent's) deck and rearrange things. Stacking the deck without playing such a card, though, is still considered cheating. Apr 15, 2015 at 16:57
  • @Shane not that I'm aware of, but I'm also not a big cards player. The sentence read to me as very neutral, leading me to believe it could read as neutral to others as well. Apr 15, 2015 at 17:10
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    @AlecGilliland: I don't know of any card games that allow you to stack the deck in general. Many modern games allow you to stack the deck in limited ways in specific circumstances (as with Magic the Gathering), but even in these, it is still cheating to stack the deck outside those bounds. That said, there is another common use for stacking a deck of cards where it's not considered cheating: stage magic, where it is one of the most common ways to set up card tricks. Apr 15, 2015 at 18:40

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