Posts Tagged ‘Libertarians’

LABELMANIA

In 1975, the International Ladies Garment Workers Union launched a TV campaign supporting American-made clothing. Workers—men alongside women—sang a charming ditty, “Look for the Union Label.” Given that so many jobs first fled union shops then were lost to offshoring, that label inside a garment made sense. Ultimately, the campaign failed. Americans preferred cheaper foreign-made goods. Today, we live with many other kinds of labels. They’re not working, either.

I refer to political labels. Democrat and Republican are two. You can also be a Libertarian, Green, Socialist or Communist (not many of those around). Here’s where confusion begins. Many people who register with a party aren’t members and don’t attend conventions or conferences. They don’t necessarily toe the party line, either. They use their registration to vote in primaries or caucuses. Now, states with open primaries make such registration unnecessary.

Another political label has gained prominence: Independent. Bernie Sanders used to be one. An Independent stays free of party registration or affiliation. Yet many registered Democrats and Republicans as mentioned above function as Independents. They freely cross party lines. Witness a label from the recent past: Reagan Democrats. You might even remember Dixiecrats. They became Republicans.

Labels also exist within labels. Some Democrats call themselves Progressives (Go Bernie!). Others Moderates (Go Hillary!). Or maybe also Progressives. Republicans identify as Conservatives or Tea Partiers or both. A few flirt with the label Rockefeller Republicans, i.e. Centrists. They tend to hide in the closet. Libertarians may call themselves Social Liberals and/or Economic Conservatives or downright Anarchists.

Then there are supporters of Donald Trump. Republican? Not necessarily. Conservative? Sometimes. Sometimes not. They often drift to another label: Authoritarian. Trump supporters may hold varied positions on such issues as immigration, taxes, abortion, and Muslims. But they share a deep anger at Washington. An Authoritarian leader, they believe, will disregard Congress and impose solutions. How? By being Authoritarian. Donald Trump will “make America great again” because he says he will.

Consider also Insiders and Outsiders. Congress’ popularity remains well under 20 percent. (Interestingly, the Gallup Poll of May 23–29, 2016 shows President Obama’s approval rating at 52 percent.) Many Americans believe that Congress accomplishes little to nothing because it’s composed of Insiders, also known as Politicians. Politicians’ first concern isn’t the general welfare but holding office. Not surprisingly, loyalty to their Democrat and Republican labels—thus assuring campaign funding—prevents Politicians from reaching across the aisle to get anything done.

And let’s not forget The Establishment. These rich people pull strings behind the scenes. Everyone hates The Establishment. Except everyone wants to be rich, which would make them part of The Establishment.

What to do? The philosophy of the famed comedian W.C. Fields has gained traction: “Hell, I never vote for anybody, I always vote against.” Voters can thumb their noses at The Establishment by replacing Washington Insiders with Outsiders. Although victorious Outsiders immediately become Insiders.

Labels offer easy choices between Right (your position) and Wrong (the other guy’s). Unfortunately, they keep us from thinking as individuals and approaching issues not as no-brainers but as complex. This November, we could do America a favor by dropping Labelmania and separating fantasy from reality. We might label that Patriotism.

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PARANOIA AND BANG-BANG

Last Saturday, we celebrated July Fourth, official birthday of the United States. But we’ve never been all that united. We endured a bloody Civil War, after all. Blacks and whites lived separately. And only yesterday did South Carolina decide to remove the Confederate battle flag from Statehouse grounds. Key issues divide us. Many seem fueled by paranoia.

Liberals often see themselves and/or others as victims. All of society’s ills stem from ongoing racism and capitalism. Whites cling to entitlement. The “one percent” constitutes a brotherhood of predators. Solution: Tax the damn rich until they bleed! Maybe raise the minimum wage to $25 an hour and guarantee every individual $25,000 a year in income. Plus housing. Doesn’t it work that way in Sweden?

Conservatives fear a rapacious federal government that seeks to strip away Americans’ wealth. They include middle- and lower middle-class citizens struggling from paycheck to paycheck with no wealth to lose. They also believe that liberals don’t care about crime; they abet it. Moreover, the White House and its Black president are waging a war on Christians. Solution: Stock up on guns and ammo, the most lethal money can buy.

If posts I see on Facebook are credible, people I know in Texas, where I once lived, and Arizona really fear for their personal safety. They expect someone to knock down their door and commit mayhem. The news doesn’t comfort them. For example, Baltimore’s homicide rate is up 48% over last year; the mayor just fired the police commissioner. Will ghetto violence spread to white suburban and rural enclaves? Conservatives fear it will.

Conservatives also want to defend their freedom from Washington’s ill intentions. (The libertarians don’t like Washington but appear less threatened.) They celebrate military gear and skills, seeing themselves on freedom’s frontlines like the defenders of the Alamo. (Carolyn and I were married next door.) Interestingly, none ever volunteered for military service.

Honestly, if you love to hunt, kill it and eat it. Target shooting? Enjoy. (It’s fun!) Feel you need a gun for personal protection? I have no beef. But I do offer a caveat. My father’s best friend carried a gun. He was a union biggie in New York, a job entailing considerable risk. However, when a couple of mob goons told him he could retire either standing up or lying down, he moved to Florida. He knew they had much more firepower.

Could it be that guns aren’t the answer? A July 6 report on Yahoo News (Stephanie Pappas for LiveScience) offers the results of yet another study. “’We found no support for the hypothesis that owning more guns leads to a drop or a reduction in violent crime,’ said study researcher Michael Monuteaux, an epidemiologist and professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. ‘Instead, we found the opposite.’” The article adds that studies find that as gun ownership goes up so do gun homicides.

But those are just facts. The National Rifle Association insists that guns don’t kill. People do. Conservatives support that position, including politicians threatened by NRA money. Liberals won’t listen to the fears of conservatives—people they fear. (Remember what I wrote about Baltimore?) So Americans will keep turning away from each other rather than seeking common ground. But shoot, at least we’ll all be united—by paranoia.

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