When it comes to politics, our society is crazy with labels. But there are some significant problems with certain political labels. Everyone has some label they immediately attach to themselves to make a point. You’re a “republican” or a “democrat”, a “liberal” or a “conservative”. But why? Do these labels really describe your core-centric philosophy on politics?
Of course not. They are a tool to convey a general piece of information to another party. If you say you are conservative, then that message will be read as you’re somewhere to the right on the political spectrum. But that doesn’t detail your actual beliefs, and any variations in the values of conservatism you may hold.
And that’s where the problem lies with political branding. It doesn’t give us much information. If anything, it can just stifle discussion.
Problems With Political Labels: Destroying Discussion
Instead of actually addressing your core values and beliefs, you attach a label to summarize them.
However, these descriptions typically aren’t adequate. It’s unlikely you toe the party-line on every single issue, which means your values differ from the general branding. You may call yourself a libertarian, but have different views on immigration. Thus, you aren’t fully attached to that label. And by calling yourself that, it doesn’t convey that information correctly.
By just describing yourself as any type of political label, you don’t get any message or discussion going. It’s a dead-end.
It’s also a division. We’re divided into two predominant camps in the US: Republican and Democrat. This turns it into an “us vs. them” attitude. This attitude is in direct contrast to what we should be doing, which is addressing the underlying values of both beliefs. It’s just all party politics instead of what we want to get done.
If someone immediately categorizes you by your brand, you won’t get your values across. And thus can’t adequately change their minds or debate properly.
Let’s take an example. Suppose you’re talking to a leftist and you say you are a conservative. They can take this a million different ways. They can target specific weaknesses in generalized conservative arguments that you may not even agree with. You’ll be immediately categorized and they will “zone-out” upon further discussion.
Instead, had you said you have your own personal political views that aren’t completely dependent on a party, you may get somewhere. The discussion could include your values and ideals. Instead of just your party’s brand.
This is not to say political labels are never useful. They can be useful in certain contexts, such as when you want to get a general message of your beliefs across. Or for an identity label that supersedes simple ideology. The main thing I’m targeting here are generic party labels, such as Green, Libertarian, Republican, and Democrat.
Political Labels Are Ever Changing
Modern liberalism is nothing like liberals of the past. Similarly, modern conservatives tend to deviate far from their origins.
By attaching a label to yourself, you suggest that as society changes, so must yours.
This is problematic in the issue that your core values and beliefs should not change unless presented with strong reasoning. Most of the time, this doesn’t happen. Political labels change based on the demand for more appeasement to get more power within the party.
Such as the Republicans being staunch against immigration, to later becoming much more friendly with it now that immigrates have a large stake in the polling booths.
Likewise, had you talked to a liberal of the past and told them about modern liberalism, they would immediately abandon that label. The core tenants, the principle beliefs, have changed. Now, conservatives are the old-school liberals.
As you can tell from these examples, labels are practically meaningless. They are only superficial placeholders. If your core tenants can’t totally flip-flop over a set time period, it isn’t an accurate discretionary tool to use.
The Problems With Political Labels: Avoid Them
It’s simple to avoid these problems: just don’t brand yourself.
You can vote for a conservative while holding some leftist views. But you shouldn’t be changing your entire belief structure to fit your party line. Nor attempt to explain the vast details of your political values after someone already has generalized you.
Make educated thoughts and philosophies, instead of just adopting a party label.
One easy way to do this is to call yourself a member of neither party. That way, you have their full attention and can take your discussion in any direction. It can make providing logical arguments, and convincing people of those arguments, much easier.
While we’re talking about logical arguments, check out my article on common logical fallacies.