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Say a group of people vote for a leader in an election but the leader then goes on to "speak for the people" but actually he's speaking for himself and his cronies. I'd like it to be clearly in a derogatory sense.

"Mr ..... claimed he was speaking on behalf of the people who voted for him but he was actually [stealing] their voice"

What word would best fit here?

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6 Answers 6

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You could use the term co-opt:

co-opt v. tr.
3. To take or assume for one's own use; appropriate: co-opted the criticism by embracing it.

From TFDO

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  • This is the one I was considering posting but you beat me to it, have a +1. Nov 23, 2016 at 16:16
  • +1; I have seen (mis)appropriate used in this context, thanks for co-opt. Nov 23, 2016 at 16:33
  • I'm not sure co-opt has the negative connotation the OP is looking for.
    – Hank
    Nov 23, 2016 at 17:58
  • It is spoken almost entirely in a pejorative context. In fact, I have never once heard it spoken in a positive light. It's what activists say when some politician who supported their cause gets persuaded by some other force or group to go a different way: they got co-opted.
    – Robusto
    Nov 23, 2016 at 18:11
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The answer is in the title of your question

Misrepresent

to give a false or misleading representation of usually with an intent to deceive or be unfair

to serve badly or improperly as a representative of

For example:

He claimed he was speaking on behalf of the people who voted for him, but he was mispresenting them when he announced the new policy that would...

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  • "intent to deceive" isn't enough?
    – John Feltz
    Nov 23, 2016 at 16:08
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The most suitable word for my context was "Highjack" bringing strong, explicit implication of stealing for their own purposes. The word was contributed in a comment that was subsequently removed. Thanks to that unknown contributor!

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  • And "thanks" to the anonymous comment deleter.
    – Hot Licks
    Nov 25, 2016 at 18:09
  • Good stuff all around. And excellent answer. Nov 26, 2016 at 0:26
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How about pervert?

From Google search:

pervert verb: alter (something) from its original course, meaning, or state to a distortion or corruption of what was first intended

Your example:

Mr ..... claimed he was speaking on behalf of the people who voted for him but he was actually perverting their voice

It's hard to find a verb more derogatory than pervert, not to mention its other obvious connotations as a noun.

Also, as suggested by @alwayslearning, how about misappropriate?

From Dictionary.com:

misappropriate: to put to a wrong use

Your example:

Mr ..... claimed he was speaking on behalf of the people who voted for him but he was actually misappropriating their voice.

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How about 'Garble'? According to M-W

  • Garble: a : to so alter or distort as to create a wrong impression or change the meaning
  • garble a story
  • the candidate complained that his views had been deliberately garbled by his opponent

'Misrepresent' also works though.

-1

Ventriloquize:

to speak or sound in the manner of a ventriloquist.

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