"No More Political Labels,
Please." Mark Skousen, president of the Foundation for Economic
Education in Irvington-On-Hudson, New York, states his case against using political labels, in this article that originally appeared in Liberty magazine in July 1990.
Sample: "When somebody asks me, 'Are you a liberal? Conservative? Libertarian?' I answer, 'What's the issue?' Categorizing someone's ideas as either 'liberal' or 'conservative' is often used to avoid real thinking about actual issues."
"Political Labels Are a Poor Substitute for Critical Thinking,"
Says Lawrence Reed, president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.
Sample: "People are assigned the "conservative" or "liberal" labels with abandon, yet close inspection almost always yields good reasons why on at least some important issues, the moniker assigned doesn't fit at all. The confusion only worsens when the labelers go to work on foreigners."
"World's Smallest Political
Quiz." This is the popular political quiz created by Marshall Fritz's Advocates for Self-Government, described as "a valid measure of a person's political leanings" by The
Washington Post." Be sure to visit the Frequently Asked Questions about the quiz, from which the following sample is taken:
Sample: "The left-right model ... gives a skewed, distorted, inaccurate picture of American politics. It's a "flat earth" political map — inaccurate and misleading."
"Cardinal O'Connor's funeral showed the emptiness of political
labels." Mark Hare writes in the Democrat and Chronicle of Rochester, N.Y., on May 14, 2000 about political labels. It was reprinted by Common Ground for Life, which favors "economic justice" and opposes abortion, euthanasia and capital punishment.
"Did you see their faces? The Clintons, the Bushes (W. and
H.W.), the Patakis, Giuliani? Democrat and Republican, "liberal" and "conservative." Equally uncomfortable, visibly so, at Monday's funeral for New York's Cardinal John O'Connor. Unlike O'Connor, they are bound and defined by labels that keep them in permanent opposition. You wonder whether they are capable of even the simplest genuine communication with each other."
"Watch Your Language," a review of the book "Junk English" by Ken Smith." Washington Post writer Jonathan Yardley praises author Ken Smith's book "Junk English" as "terrific" for taking "mighty whacks in all the right places -- jargon, cliches, euphemisms, hyperbole."
Sample: "In the end ... being sensible about language boils down to insisting that words mean what they properly mean and are used accordingly."
"Political labels Q&A: Who Are We
Really?" The Web site of Ohio Citizen Action talks about how
political labels can be confusing.
Sample: "If a word is not effectively communicating an idea, stop using it," and, "If you fixate on political labels, you will miss opportunities for action, which are always greater than current labels would suggest."
"In Praise of Consistency."
Steven Martinovich of
EnterStageRight.com. observes that "a new class of pundit is rising up who isn't afraid to swim against the stream, ones worthy of following closely. Many of them (people like Nat
Hentoff, Camille Paglia and Andrew Sullivan) also happen to be on the left or outside of the conventional left-right paradigm."
"What we can take from people like
Hentoff, Paglia and Sullivan is the realization that mainstream conservatism has its problems, chief among them a lack of consistency in some of our most fundamentally held beliefs ... Occasionally it's good to cross the lines and fight for something that we may not necessarily agree with but is consistent with our line of thought."
"The complexities of left and
right." W. James Antle III, senior political writer for Enter Stage Right, tries to make sense of modern political labels.
Sample: "There is a very real sense in which left and right are insufficient as categories of political analysis. The left/right paradigm does not explain why William F. Buckley Jr., George
Soros, Ira Glasser and John O'Sullivan favor drug legalization while Al Gore, Trent Lott, Ted Kennedy, Norman Podhoretz and Bob Barr do not. Nor does it explain Camille Paglia's involvement in the war against political correctness, or Michael Kelly's critiques of the Clinton administration, or Pat Buchanan's call to lift US sanctions against Iraq."
"Why I Am Not a
Conservative." Nobel Prize-winning economist and philosopher Friedrich A. Hayek explains why he doesn't like being called a conservative.
Sample: "Though the position I have tried to define is also often described as 'conservative,' it is very different from that to which this name has been traditionally attached."
"Political Labels Not Always
Right." A June 30, 1990 letter to the editor of The Frankfort Times in Clinton County, Indiana, by Kenneth J. Wolf, who also has a Web site called "Writings for
Sample: "We must ... be very careful not to label every Democrat a liberal and every Republican a conservative. The truth is all Democrats are not liberals and all Republicans are not conservatives."
"Is Socialism Still On the Agenda?" Michael Albert of Z Magazine and Znet.com asks whether there is life for "socialism" after all that has happened since the downfall of the Soviet Union, but to answer the question, first he tries to define the label "socialism." This essay provoked a spirited, and at times windy, debate with Frontpagemag.com writer David Horowitz, who said the answer should be no.
Sample: "To answer the title question, I have to provide answers for three possible meanings of 'socialism' and also for a semantic issue, the use of the word 'socialism,' in any form."
"This Honorable Court:
The current crop of justices are anything but "ideologues." In this July 3, 2001 article, The Wall Street Journal's "Citizen of the World," Tunku
Varadarajan, discusses how to regard the U.S. Supreme Court justices.
Sample: "Clefts make for good copy, not to mention a smaller effort for the brain to understand the world, so the search is always on for labels that are easy to affix."
"Political Labels: What's in a Name?"
The subtitle of this article in The Scholastic is "Liberal, conservative, reactionary, leftist – politicians are constantly pinning labels on each other. But what do they really mean?"
Sample: "As much as it might make for colorful verbal combat, the labeling game tends to make compromise between the two political parties difficult. It also tends to feed cynicism about government in general, making it appear as if public officials are more interested in pulling off witty one-liners than in addressing the national interest."
"Are You a
Neocon?" In this June 26, 2001 article for LewRockwell.com, Daniel McCarthy, a graduate student in the classics at Washington University in St. Louis, offers a quiz and definitions for political labels to help readers figure out where they stand politically.
Sample: "After answering twenty questions I'll give you my impression of which of ten modern American ideologies is the best fit for you, along with links to sites representing the philosophy of each."
"Who Is Right-Wing in
America?" Syndicated talk show host Chuck Morse takes a stab at defining labels such as "right-wing" and "left-wing."
"The American Right stands for limited government, individual rights, morality, personal responsibility, and capitalism, while Right-wing Fascism, like Left-wing Communism, stands for Totalitarianism, which is the opposite."