I used to have political arguments all the time with my father that would end only in frustration… for me. He was happy to see his offspring boiling over ideas with smoke coming out of both ears. Because no matter what I said, he would always take the opposite position just to oppose me. I know this because I tested it. I would counter an argument he had just made by rephrasing it so that it was in different words, but meant exactly the same thing he had just said to me. Naturally he came up with opposing views immediately. One time I even flat out stated, “I agree with you!” Which naturally led to an immediate and complete reversal of the position on his part. I think now that he was training me to think more deeply about things than just parroting talking points heard on television. Either that, or he really really loved to argue.
The most important thing I learned in the endless arguments about Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole, Two Bushes, and Bill Clinton was that you have to establish the meanings of the terms you are using. Hence the reason for this post.
The words that made the most difference in my discussions with my father were “liberal”, “fascist”, “conservative”, and “communist”. When my dad used those terms, “conservative” always meant “good guys” and the other three words meant “bad guys”. But when I listened to the policies and concerns he wanted to talk about, whenever he said the word “conservative” he was really saying “moderate”. And because he was pretty much in the center of the political spectrum, he thought of fascists and communists as being the same thing. If my father ever was truly wrong about anything political, it was when he followed Ronald Reagan’s affable, smiling “Morning in America” politics towards the far right and abandoned the moderate principles he held dear. He had been deceived by Nixon, and regretted it… in fact, we all were deceived and we all regretted it. But that did not prevent him from being deceived by later Republicans. We both have had a long-standing admiration for President Eisenhower, Senator Bob Dole, Senator Chuck Grassley, and Senator John McCain. They represent the moderate wing of the Republican Party. But the GOP has marched relentlessly towards fascism and oligarchy of the rich, and we both feel that has tainted both Grassley and McCain. My dad ended up voting for Barack Obama twice. Obama, to him, is Eisenhower reincarnated. The problem, we both agree, has come anytime American politics have moved away from the center.
So let me begin defining terms by ridiculing the Loony Left.
Being liberal means promoting change. Hence, the Marxist devotion to revolution and the desire to have an on-going revolution of constant change. Unfortunately constant change is another way to define chaos. That is the main reason that communist-socialist experiments have generally ended in violence, economic collapse, and fascist-type strong-man oppression. The poor raggedy communist in my cartoon, standing on the left end of the spectrum is always doomed to poverty and violent death. If you don’t believe that, just ask Leon Trotsky if it isn’t so. Oh, wait, you can’t. Stalin had him murdered. Stalin ended the Russian experiment by cracking down on everything, making himself the antithesis of actual socialist ideas. I included the ultra-liberal philosopher and hedonist Alistair Crowley on this end of the spectrum because he fought against all social norms and rules. That sort of religion leads to sexual depravity, vice, and corruption to a degree that got Crowley labeled “the Most Evil Man Who Ever Lived” in a BBC documentary.
Sometimes being liberal is needed desperately. Then you get the kind of liberal change agents that JFK was (and thankfully, LBJ carried out his liberal changes to an American society crippled by racism and xenophobia). Martin Luther King Jr. was also that kind of agent of change. Bernie Sanders is a parallel agent of change to JFK in that Barack Obama’s policies are almost a mirror image of Eisenhower’s in the 1950’s. What the media today labels as a liberal is equivalent to moderate Republicans before Nixon. Very similar changes are needed in social and economic areas today. We have yet to see if Sanders can get elected in 2020 and then assassinated shortly thereafter.
You can probably tell that this article is not yet complete. I have a lot more loony liberal pontificating to do (and please note, I said “pontificating” not “defecating”. I am not a Trump voter.) But I am well past the 500 word goal for today, and so, I must leave the rest of the crap to be said in a part two article. Maybe also a part three. Please stop me before I reach part twenty-six.
2 responses to “Explaining the Words”
Mickey, terrific post. I often say that folks who use labels are being lazy by using a shortcut. To me, it usually means their argument is poor, so they use a label for others to know they do not need to listen further as this person is just a “fill in the blank.”
So, I usually end up discounting arguments by folks who throw labels around like grenades. I have seen many well thought and researched posts on WordPress, but then a troll-like person will toss grenades at them stating opinion and hearsay as fact and brandishing labels.
While someone may disagree with you, they should at least hear your argument and points. Especially if it is well thought it, but even if not, you should hear them out. Maybe your father was using an old debate teacher trick to make the debater defend both sides of an argument.
Keep on opining and sharing your thoughts. They are worthy to be heard. Keith
Thanks so much for reading and debating. You are right. My father was teaching me about backing up your point of view with something real and researched, even if he did it as a reflex instead of a teaching tactic.