As you go through life, labels follow you like endorsements you didn’t seek.
The moment you take a stand on anything, the opposition to your stand will go after you with negative labels.
When I got out of the Army in 1971, people labeled me a “baby-killer,” and other things some people felt were necessary to call anyone in the military. Back then, the stereotype of a veteran was so negative it was toxic.
My eyes were opened and my world expanded serving in Vietnam and Cambodia. I knew the war was wrong. I knew what happened there was bad, and I didn’t feel good about some things I had to do. I came home with a mental condition that eventually cut my civilian career short. People know a lot about Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) now, but back then people with this issue were called “crazy” and worse.
The first time I ever voted, I voted for Richard Nixon. That was before Watergate. At the time I thought he knew what he was doing. Because I voted for him, people labeled me a Republican. I didn’t believe all the things the GOP stood for, but that didn’t matter.
The next president I voted for was Ronald Reagan. I liked the guy. He was a great speaker and (I thought) patriot. I felt he would protect our country’s interests, so I voted for him. I didn’t join the GOP. I just voted for a guy I liked.
One guy I didn’t like was Bill Clinton. When he ran the first time against George Bush Sr. in 1992, I voted for the Independent candidate Ross Perot (who ran under the banner of the “United We Stand” party). When Clinton ran again in 1996 against Bob Dole, I went with Perot again (this time he was under the banner of the “Reform Party”).
When George W. Bush ran for president in 1999, I found myself voting for the Democrat Al Gore. When Bush ran again in 2003, the Democrats pointed out a lot of serious things, like having our rights trampled on and being involved in a war for oil. The “weapons of mass destruction” smokescreen for invading Iraq was exposed.
Then Obama came along, and I thought he was a good speaker, but I voted for Bob Barr a Libertarian. My latest label, which I’m shedding now, will soon be replaced as others look for a way to explain my current political stance . When you write for the general public, you must be prepared to be labeled.
The idea of voting on issues doesn’t get much play. Some people like to project an independent political stance (like me),but come across as liberal. I try to do this high-wire balancing act in my column and blogs, but sometimes I take a position because I have strong beliefs on a particular issue.
The moment I do, I get labeled. The issue becomes secondary, and people attach a label to me in order to refute my position with the chosen party line. By using labels, people don’t have to think too hard about their political stance. Their chosen party tells them what to say on every issue.
When people hold up signs in public rallies calling our president a monkey (yes they called Bush a monkey too - but that same insult to an African-American immediately brings to mind a history of abuse from white Americans) a label is given to them. Racists.
Past president Jimmy Carter recently brought up the race issue in regard to President Obama’s presidency. The reactions were immediate from some who said he was senile or a racist himself. Just another good example of a label attached so people can justify calling him names.
Many Americans are comfortable with the two major parties which control this country. There are other parties out there, but they are labeled “fringe parties” and are seldom taken seriously by the Democrats and Republicans in power.
If you choose to believe what Rush Limbaugh says, then you can only be a “hard-line” Republican. If you believe what Keith Olberman reports, then you must be a “bleeding heart” liberal Democrat. If you call yourself a member of either party, does that mean you go with “their party line” on everything - even if it’s wrong or inaccurate?
Some people need to protect their labels, and are comfortable nestled in their ideologies. They don’t have to think of original replies when their political stance is challenged, as their “party” will provide it. Sound byte politics s is all the rage.
Too many people don’t really examine political issues in detail. America is polarized politically, and the effects are slowly destroying this country. We have a do-nothing Congress, and neither the Democrats or the Republicans, are prepared to put their “brand” aside to really serve the American people.
As It Stands, I suspect I’ll be labeled a trouble maker, for even bringing up this subject.
image via Google Images