By Stephen Smith
Everyone seems to be obsessed with labeling everyone and everything. It is the one quick fix statement that eliminates empathy, an exchange of ideas, reason and any need for any further argument. I have two favorite pet peeves. My first is calling someone an extreme right-wing conservative. Since the word conservative means having traditional values and being resistant to change, do you think that the accuser meant that they were extremely resistant to change and had strong traditional values. Shame on them. What really offends me is progressives calling George Bush or Donald Trump a fascist or Hitler. First, neither have butchered millions like the fascist and Communists did, or represent a political philosophy that has far more in common with the Bernie Sanders wing of the Democrat Party than our founders’ vision of limited government.
With apologies to Mort Sahl, let me offer you a philosophical tool to better understand where I am coming from. Way back in the dark ages when I went to UCLA and the university’s Communist Professor Angela Davis and the Black Power movement were dominating the news, I was taught that political systems could be described on a sliding scale with the Communists on the far left, the United States in the middle and the Nazis and fascists, occupying the far right. Those who professed this model were highly influenced by Marxist thinking. In 1973 I was touring Dictator Josip Broz Tito’s Communist Yugoslavia. There I witnessed protestors who carried signs proclaiming, “Death to Fascism.” Far left backed Black Lives Matters and Occupy Wall Street protestors have pretty much done the same. Communists have always viewed “Fascist” as their opposite and their greatest enemy, even over American style free market capitalism.
Our founders had a very different view of the political system model. Theirs put Communists and Nazis on equal footings. I have come to agree with them. So now is the time for you to use your best arts and crafts skills and see the political spectrum as they did.
Lay down a letter-sized paper horizontally. One-third from the top draw a horizontal line from left to right leaving an inch or two at the margins. Place a short vertical line equally bisecting the horizontal exactly at the halfway point. Place two more vertical lines in the same manner one-fourth of the way from the left and the other one-fourth from the right.
In the same manner but just a little lower, above the one-fourth vertical left now, for those who love “labeling,” this is the time. Two inches above the line on the far left, print in easily read characters “TOTALITARIAN” and on the far right “ANARACHY” (sic). Above the one-fourth vertical line on the left print “TYRANNY” and above the one-fourth vertical right “LIBERTY.”
In smaller print below TYRANNY print “Serfdom” and under LIBERTY print “Freedom.”
Below the horizonal line on the far-left print in a column justified left, one line at a time, print, “True Far Left, Monarchy, Communism, Fascism, Socialism and Statist.” In the same manner on the far right justified right print “True Far Right, No Government, Lais sez-faire, Buyer beware, Total Freedom, Chaos.”
Now, below the horizontal line, dead center print “PRINCIPLES.”
You may now start compiling (a) list of core principles of the progressive left below the horizontal line left of center marker and the same for Constitutional Republicans placed right of the center marker.
Left. The population is viewed as the collective. They all are classified into various sub-groups, usually based on race, class and gender and are further divided into the oppressed and the oppressors. Independence is discouraged and reliance on the state is encouraged. Obedience is required. Good character is not relevant.
Right. Motto “e pluribus unum,” out of many one. Self-reliance, Liberty, Freedom and independence are the goals. Being of good character is required for this system of limited government to be successful.
Left. State manages, directs or owns means of production. Success is determined by political considerations.
Right. Free market capitalism. Success is determined by how well you provide your customers what they want. Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.
Left. Wealth is finite and cannot be created. Must be redistributed to achieve social justice.
Right. Wealth can be created by adding value through your enterprise. You should be able to keep what you earn and pursue happiness.
Left. Social Justice. Egalitarian. Equal results guaranteed through redistributive change. All citizens are equal; however, some comrades are more equal than others (ruling elite).
Right. Equal Justice for all under the law. We are all created equal, however results will vary depending on talent, knowledge, work and good fortune.
Left. Rights are what the government must do for its citizens and are a gift from the state, subject to change at the whim of the leadership. Achieved through powerful central government.
Right. Rights are about what the government may not do to its citizens. Our rights are given to us by our Creator and not subject to change by the state. Achieved through limited government.
Now have some fun figuring out where we are now on this scale. Our founder’s ideal was having just enough government to avoid Anarchy, but weak enough to ensure Liberty. I would put their ideal about one-fourth from the far right. I would put Bernie Sanders’ form of socialism about one-fourth from the far left. The question is, where do you think we are headed towards? Liberty or Tyranny. (Hint, I would put today’s Republican Party to the left of JFK.) Good Luck.
The Views and Opinions expressed in these columns are those of the writer, not necessarily those of Valley Publications/Santa Clarita Gazette