It is way too easy to just label someone instead of having a serious discussion. What does name calling accomplish? It accomplishes absolutely nothing. We are the can do nation so how can we move forward unless we have a serious discussion based upon the merits, and the strength or weakness of a person’s ideas?
For example President Obama has just about been called everything in the book, from a communist, to a socialist to a fascist. You can not be all three, it is impossible. The true meaning of the words lose their meaning when they are just bandied about.
It used to mean something to call someone a Communist. They were to be feared and hated. They were the enemy. But sorry that old dog won’t hunt. Communism is dead. Like the no return pet policy from Monty Python, the bird was dead, not sleeping or resting but dead. The parrot was nailed to the perch. And in this case Communism is dead, it is nailed to the perch due to a failure to understand human nature and the cult of the personality. There are a few relics still around to be sure, like Cuba, but the island will change once the Castro brothers pass from the scene. North Korea is but a dictatorship masquerading as a Communist state. China is trying to have it both ways, as it is a capitalist state and a communist state. We shall see how that one turns out, but my money is on capitalism.
Ah, my God, he is a Socialist. We hear that from time to time, but what does that mean? George Washington provided government health care for the Navy. Does that mean he was a Socialist? The Post Office is for the public and for years and years it was not privatized. Was it part of a Socialist plot?
Labeling someone has been part of politics and life forever. Personal attacks are laced with pejoratives. People used the N—word for a long time, racial slurs have been used to describe just about every ethnic group in our history. But labeling solves nothing, it is used to demean and lesson a person’s stature and respect in the public eye.
I personally hate to be labeled, as I believe that my belief system encompasses different labels. I am conservative on how we spend money. I don’t believe in overspending or wasting money. I want to preserve what is good, but I believe that government has a role in our lives. Government can provide things for the public that we can not provide for ourselves. What I do care about is whether things are working well, or working at all, and I am quite put out by people who are just happy with the status quo when action is needed. The point is, it is tough to label me.
We have heard political attacks not just on a person’s character, we have witnessed and heard attacks on a candidate’s family. This is nothing new! The politics of personal destruction should have no place in our political discourse.
During the Depression, Franklin Roosevelt only cared about whether some idea would work. Americans share his pragmatism and his sense of hope.
These days labels have lost their power to shock because both the left and the right-wing of the political spectrum have lost their relevance due to a paucity of ideas.
Americans tend not to be ideologues and prefer ideas that work. Families primarily care about having a good job, having a place to call home with a roof over their head and a good meal to eat. They care about their children their education and if their family is healthy.
Most Americans can not even name who their Congressperson is let alone know the definition of fascism, communism or socialism, and they’ve probably never heard of social democracy, Fabian socialism or dialectic materialism. So let us get down to business and take care of the basic needs of Americans and forget about labels. There is a huge disparity of income between the rich and the poor. The average wage has not kept up with inflation and we need a livable wage not a subsistence wage.
What we should be doing is to ask the right questions. We should ask the question of a legislative act, whether or not it is a good act? Is it needed? Will there be unintended consequences and what will they be? Is the law or judicial decision fair, is it just? We need to ask these questions if we are to have a better and more just society. Even if the answers might be difficult to ascertain these are the political questions we need to ask of our leaders.
It would be nice if we could come up with ideas, and alternatives to meet the problems of the 21st Century.
There is nothing wrong with classical conservatism and the reluctance to have change that is too hasty and dangerous to the maintenance of a civil society.
It is equally wrong, though, to refuse to change and accept the status quo when solutions to problems are required.
Labels used to be venerable and respected. Liberal or conservative had respectable origins worthy of respect.
We need to be tolerant of dissenting attitudes and even behavior that might be considered different. It is really difficult to be tolerant of other views when they are laced with insulting and demeaning words, labels intent on lessening the person’s stature.
If you call a person a liar, or a communist or any word or words that have a astigmatism attached to the words you have not helped the political discourse. A person’s reaction to such an attack is to attack back with a similar disrespectful tone and content.
As a guide for the confused and well-meaning let us stop yelling at one another in disrespect but in fact listen and really talk to one another.
Anger can come from fear. Perhaps life has not worked out for you and you did not become the millionaire you thought you wanted to become. We live in an age of insecurity and change is disruptive. Let us move forward and face our fears. Let our actions come from a love of country or from a love of our fellow-man.
Let us work together to make life better for all, and leave a legacy, for our children and for our grandchildren.
It is quite possible that the next economic crisis will be worse than what we experienced in 2008. It is also likely that over population and climate change will force upon us great change for our very survival as human beings. So let us ask the right questions and face the challenges of the future without personal attacks and name calling. The challenges are too great to do otherwise.
If we are not careful and change is forced upon us by circumstance, we may not like the role of government and the lack of choices we will have. So before it is too late let us seek to find common ground.