Brian Bailey Preface to the Revised Edition

Label Madness

Though I enjoy politics, I am continually frustrated at the constant attempt to label an opponent or proposal into submission. In other words, if I can simply attach a negative label to you or your idea, and thereby define you, I will win. Let's review some recent attempts:

Vast right-wing conspiracy
Ultra-right-wing conservative
Left-wing liberal
Card-carrying member of the ACLU
Voodoo economics

and my personal, all-time favorite, Al Gore's

Risky tax scheme

Are there left-wing liberals in the world? Yes. Right-wing conservatives? Of course. But, no matter how many words are attached as a matter of emphasis (ultra, far, vast, fascist, communist, etc...) these are simplistic terms that do nothing to advance the debate and are disrespectful to opponents as well as the voters.

Also, these phrases avoid the fact that people (yes, even politicians) are far more nuanced than the labels we force on them. Nothing is as simple as it seems. For instance, consider this personal profile:

I own an electric lawn mower
My favorite show is The West Wing
My TiVO regularly records Austin City Limits and Soundstage
My favorite computer is a Powerbook
I regularly read the NY Times on the web
I have a degree in Philosophy
My wife and I drive Honda's
I love World Cup Soccer
My CD shelf is dominated by the Grateful Dead and Phish

Liberal or conservative?