Label me this, label me that

Gary Gould — Managing Editor

Gary Gould — Managing Editor

As the election year plods ahead, inevitably political rhetoric and partisanship begins to rise.

I have written here before, and still maintain, the country’s deepening political polarization has created a climate where it is hard to comment on anything happening politically without drawing the ire of those who don’t share your viewpoint.

Differences of opinion are to be expected, and should certainly exist to be certain all viewpoints are brought to the table. But why must it inevitably degrade into name-calling and labeling?

Expressing a political view these days will quickly get you slapped with a label. Liberal. Conservative, Democrat, Republican. Communist. I’ve been called all of these in the same year, based on what people take away from my column when I decide to express a political view.

Admittedly my beliefs are varied these days. I wish for a political landscape in this country where you can select the ideas you like from either the right or the left and combine them into something that works — like a buffet I guess.

Unfortunately, as I have learned over the years as I’ve made my political journey to the middle, there really isn’t a happy medium. Many people have such a hard time looking past the party line they can’t work with the other side, or even find something remotely possible to agree upon.

It’s an endless power struggle and, honestly, it’s getting really old.

One side gets power and spends its time in office sticking it to the other side, while the side biding its time until the next election sits back, berates and belittles the one in power and waits for its turn. It’s a viscous, unproductive, self-destructive cycle and it never changes. That’s how I feel about politics.

So don’t call me un-American because I question the system. Ask yourself if it really works and if you agree it doesn’t, think about how we could change it and make it better. If you think it works, then more power to you — just tell me what works about it instead of suggesting I be a “good American,” keep my mouth shut and support the country.

Don’t call me unpatriotic if I allow a reader to express an unpopular viewpoint in the paper and tell me not to “hide” behind the First

Amendment when I tell you they have a right to their opinion.

Think about what the words say:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…” I’m not hiding behind the First Amendment, I’m upholding that right for others. Taking that right away would make me a “leftist.”

Now you can call me “uninformed,” “misguided” or flat out wrong. I have been called all those things at one time or another and probably with good reason. I do make mistakes and I will be the first to agree with you if I’ve made a mistake.

I’m just asking you don’t slap a political label on me based on what you think you know. I make it my job to listen. I just wish everyone else would listen to what other people have to say before dismissing them.

Politics should be a process of communication filled with diverse ideas and people all working toward a common good. It should not be one-sided, but rather inclusive of all thoughts and ideas. The only label we should all be slapped with is that of “American.”

But I guess until that day comes, I’ll just label myself “dreamer.”

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