Wednesday, May 24, 2006

READER RESPONSE -- Political Labels

Posted by Craig Westover | 8:18 AM |  

A couple of interesting comments to this post about party affiliations and political labels --
Part of the problem with the current mania to label everybody as being at one pole or the other of a left-right spectrum of political thought is a complete /absence/ of thought on too many issues. By simply dismissing the views of someone that we ourselves label "a wacko liberal" or a "Leviticus conservative," we rid ourselves of the difficult and time-consuming need to advance a rational argument for our own "centrist" and incontrovertible positions.

J. Ewing 05.23.06 - 10:46 am #
Good point by J. Ewing.My liberal friends think I am too far to the right; my conservative friends think I have some whacko liberal beliefs.

I think ultimately that I simply do not have the "standard checklist" attitudes about the "left positions" or the "right positions." And - as far as I'm concerned, neither "checklist" is straightforward.What is the "right" and "left" position on immigration? On security? On privacy?Better to deal individually with all the issues (no matter how long and how messy it is) that to trivialize others' positions into sound bites and dismiss those who disagree with us by a degrading label.

Peg 05.23.06 - 5:58 pm #
Ewing’s point is well-taken and Peg takes it to the next step by putting a focus on issues rather than labels. But there is a third step to be taken.
Often we equate stands on issues with the terms “conservative” and “liberal,” giving the person a label depending on which side of the spectrum they lean to. A common expression of this is the person who describes himself as “conservative on fiscal issues, but liberal on social issues.” That’s also a confused definition of a “libertarian.”

It’s my argument that it’s not one’s ultimate position on an issue that makes one “liberal” or “conservative,” which is what Peg identifies with the question “What is the "right" and "left" position on immigration? On security? On privacy?” What makes one a liberal or a conservative is not what one believes, but how one reasons to what one believes. That is a significant difference.