Metaphors act as cues to social identities. Political discourse that communicates the distinctiveness of the rulers' identity sustains authoritarianism by cueing people to act as either oppressors or oppressed, while political discourse that cues identification by citizens with politicians promotes democracy by encouraging people to participate. In Politburo speeches from the era of Soviet authoritarianism, metaphors of size, superiority, distance, and subordination were abundant. These metaphors are suitable for emphasizing the separateness of politics from ordinary life and for communicating the inferiority of the populace. In Politburo speeches from the transition year 1989, these metaphors had already begun to decrease in frequency, while new metaphors, often borrowed from the discourse of international diplomacy, deconstructed the rulers' claims to continuing authority. In Russian political discourse from the first years of electoral politics, authoritarian metaphors decline even more sharply and are replaced by metaphors of choice and identification suitable for encouraging people to align themselves with electoral candidates.