By Erik Dolson
Yesterday, a man I’ve worked with and deeply respect said I wasn’t really a “liberal.”
He’s a “conservative,” and it’s one of his favorite light-hearted jabs when we agree on something before we move on to disagree about something else. Perhaps I shouldn’t move on so easily. By saying I’m “really a conservative,” my friend resolves the conflict that he respects the thinking behind my opinons.
We all dismiss with labels rather than reflect on the arguments. Maybe it’s easier to change the label than face the agreement.
I’ve dodged “boxes” most of my life. I’ve long said I was a “political economist.” To me, the ideologies of the left and right were more faith-based than data-based. Both ignore that the laws of economics are about as immutable as the laws of physics and we waste incredible energy and resources oblivious of that fact.
Rather than recognize the benefits of the other’s ideology, each seems inclined to ignore the cost of their own and emphasize the cost of the other.
Liberals seem to believe that no one should be responsible for themselves; conservatives forget that we all benefit when we take care of each other, and there is a role for government in warding off economic anarchy. My conservative friends believe too many “undeserving” are stealing the fruit of their labor, my liberal friends see the top one percent using privilege to steal from everyone else while trashing our common treasure.
Another good friend and I were out shooting the other day. I made some crack about the inconsistency of being “liberals who enjoy guns.”
“It’s NOT an inconsistency,” he fired back (sorry). He is more rigorous in his thinking than I am, and fine-tunes his labels more precisely. But consequently, he may have even more difficulty communicating to a world that prefers easy, broad-brushed colors of red and blue.
Believing that Trump is an intellectual derelict, as damaging to America as Covid-19, an ineffectual immoralist, a fountain of selfishness, hate and anger, doesn’t make me a “liberal.” Neither does my belief than no person in America should be without healthcare.
Believing that English should be our national language and a baker should be able to bake a cake for whom he chooses does not make me a conservative.
When do labels stand in the way of our agreements, and keep us from getting something done?