I started my political life thinking that I was a Democrat. After all, they are the ones who want to help people. Right? Then I thought I was a Republican. They are the responsible ones. Right? I really thought that I knew who I was politically when I heard Jimmy Carter say that he was a fiscal conservative and a social liberal. Ah. Perfect.
For many years, I was happy with describing myself the way then candidate and President Carter described himself. But as the political landscape has become dysfunctionally more polarized, the original definitions of Mr. Carter’s terms have become obsolete. “Fiscal conservative” no longer means simply handling taxpayer money efficiently and having tax and regulatory policies that support robust, responsible economic growth. For many, it is coming to mean that you are at least somewhat suspicious of the Federal Reserve, support a return to the gold standard, and want a retreat to the original Federal Income Tax rate of 2%. Similarly, “social liberal” used to mean, at least to me, live and let live when it came to lifestyles. Now, it seems to be morphing into meaning “anything goes.” And not only simple tolerance for the anything that’s going; we have growing numbers of groups demanding elaborate accommodations for, well, just about anyone who declares themselves to be different. So now what do I do? How do I describe myself politically? Can I find a home? Create a home?
Conservative. Liberal. Republican. Libertarian. Moderate. Democrat. Progressive. Independent. Fiscal conservative. Social liberal. Those are the descriptors that people apply to themselves.
Here’s what some people call and say about the others: “Libtard”, “Trumpist”, and, “You’re a Fascist,” “No, you’re a fascist.” These labels have lost all ability to fairly identify, educate and inform; they are simply insults. And we often hurl these “labels” at each other.
We have weaponized labels.
Stop. Restart. Together. Focus on Common goals (how’s that for the name of a party?) “Common Goals” will be the subject of our next talk.
Will Luden, writing from my home office at 7,200 feet in Colorado Springs.