Murdoch: Too much weight is put in political labels

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This is a weekly installment of Craig Murdoch’s column series, “Dazed and Crazed.”

Political labels are often given too much clout. They divide us in a stupid way because people have so many different definitions of a particular label that two people may be using the same word to describe a political philosophy. But they are not talking about the same thing. For example, it may or may not come as a surprise to you that most Americans consider themselves more conservative rather than liberal.

What are some general conservative beliefs? These beliefs include: anti-abortion, the death penalty is not cruel or unusual, more guns mean less crime, universal healthcare would cause everyone to have the same poor quality healthcare, opposition of same sex marriage among other viewpoints. If you identify as a conservative you may disagree with some of these ideas, because there is confusion about the political label.

If you survey Americans about each issue, they appear to actually hold more liberal beliefs even though most identify as conservative. Only 20 percent of Americans believe abortion should be illegal, 96 percent of Americans favor universal background checks when purchasing a gun, and about 60 percent of Americans support expanding medicare to cover all Americans. Support for same sex marriage is at an all time high of 62 percent. The only area where Americans are more traditionally conservative is the death penalty: 49 percent are for it and 42 percent oppose it. (where did you get this information?)

I would like to quickly point out that news organizations will often mislead their readers by implying that because a majority of Americans identify as conservative, they hold conservative values. This is not true.

As a result, labels are futile. They are good to give you a basis of what someone might or might not believe, but they do not strictly define the person. When someone says they are liberal or they are conservative, many people are too reactionary to the word before hearing what they actually believe. There is somewhat of a tribal mentality when individuals hear “Democrat” or “Republican.”

It’s important to realize that most peoples beliefs are a certain way because they truly think its the best way to improve the country. Although, people in power often believe in certain ideals because it will personally benefit them and others like them. So they try to convince people into believing in ideals that will benefit those in higher power.

Obviously both sides can’t be correct. We are all Americans. We are all humans and for the sake of empathy, we should be tolerant of our differences.

Aside from basic party differences, there recently was a fracture of both parties. Now there are the populist, Donald Trump conservatives and non-Donald Trump conservatives. As well as the “alt-right” which has a lot of crossover with Trump supporters although not completely.

There is the Clinton, or establishment wing of the Democratic Party and the opposing populist Sanders, or anti-establishment wing of the Democratic Party. These fractures are fine and healthy in a democracy but they shouldn’t make you intolerant of the opposing side. It shouldn’t be the deciding factor in who your friends are or who you keep in contact with in your family.

Hate has taken over in a lot of ways and hate makes us weak as a nation.

For questions/comments about this column, email editor@thewhitonline.com or tweet @TheWhitOnline.

1 COMMENT

  1. Hello, these are my sources for the article in response to “Where did you get this information?”

    96% of Americans support background checks:

    http://news.gallup.com/poll/220637/americans-widely-support-tighter-regulations-gun-sales.aspx

    Only 20% of Americans believe abortion should be full stop illegal:

    http://news.gallup.com/poll/211901/abortion-attitudes-stable-no-consensus-legality.aspx (paragraph 1)

    60% of Americans either strongly or somewhat support a Medicare for all system:

    https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/divhts7l9t/econTabReport.pdf (Page 81, says page 84 in the table of contents)

    62% of Americans support same-sex marriage:

    http://www.npr.org/2017/06/26/534443494/same-sex-marriage-support-at-all-time-high-even-among-groups-that-opposed-it

    49% of people support the death penalty while 42% oppose it:

    http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/09/29/support-for-death-penalty-lowest-in-more-than-four-decades/

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