Labels can be helpful if you’re shopping for clothing or food. If food companies are made to disclose the irradiated baby seal hearts they’re using as sausage filler on the label, that’s quite helpful for the irradiated baby seal heart intolerant. But political labels…pshaw. Yes, I said “pshaw,” and I don’t regret it. I’m tired of them and what they stand for.
I admittedly fall on the left side of the spectrum. I usually call myself a liberal. Some say “leftist.” Some say “lefty,” using the diminutive form with a sneer, as if you really make a cogent political point by adding that long-e sound, when what you really do is make yourself look like a puffed-up name-caller.
The problem with political labels—and what are the parties but the biggest brand-name labels?—is they elevate ideology above thought. Voters reflexively disparage their opposing labels, and politicians do stupid things to maintain their own labels. It’s part of the overall dumbing down of American politics. That said, I’m going to do some of my own dumbing down to make my point.
The Republicans lean so far to the right that if you went into a GOP convention and shouted “Free government cheese!” most of them would smash their foreheads on the right side of the door frames trying to flee the nanny state. And most of them would have stuffed their pockets with cheese.
The Democrats have moved so far over to compromise that most of them seem like also-ran Republicans. They still trumpet a few key planks from the platform so that you know they’re Democrats, but the notes they blow are shrill and random. They’re just all over the place, like a roomful of frightened cats with a lot of Hollywood friends.
The Libertarians stand smugly aside because they have actually convinced themselves that simply because they are not the other two parties that it means their self-serving nonsense is better than all the other self-serving nonsense. It’s like whooping cough congratulating itself for not being small pox or diphtheria.
There are other parties, but they tend toward the single issue. Like the Jeans That Fit Party, whose platform consists of demanding jeans that fit both a tubby midsection and stubby legs. I’m not a card-carrying member, but I did hand out flyers for them once.
I’m increasingly convinced our government would do better if it were selected from a playground. Take a group of kids playing well together and put them in office. That sense of fair play, kindness, and community would serve us well. We’d probably play nicer with the rest of the world, and we’d also get longer recesses and free pudding. That’s a win-win scenario.
So eff politics by label and catchphrase. I want to start the Nuanced Party. We’ll never win an election because our policy answers will be too long for sound bites. I’m going to launch the party by leading a march on Washington where we carry blank signs so that people have to really think about what should be on them.
But now I gotta go. I need to label my comic book storage boxes.