There is a lot I don’t like about the world: slow walkers, erratic drivers, people who chew with their mouths open, txt-speak, and kittens. Okay, I don’t hate kittens. Kittens with spikes all over them (war kittens!), maybe, but not regular kittens.
Anyways, there’s one thing I hate above all else: the idea that there are only two kinds of people in politics. Everyone encounters it. You’re either a Democrat or a Republican. You’re a conservative or a liberal. You’re a crazy, left-wing, terrorist-loving moonbat or a war-mongering, right-wing, bible-thumping wingnut. You’re either with us or against us.
This is bunk and everyone knows it. The world isn’t black and white, people. There’s a hell of a lot of gray in there.
False thinking like this is incredibly annoying. I can’t count how many times I’ve been called a liberal or Democrat because of a comment I make that’s widely considered to be stereotypically liberal or Democratic. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m not a liberal. Never have been, never will be. Indeed, I’m pro-choice, in favor of gay marriage, and against the war in Iraq. But I’m still not a liberal. On the flip side, I’m not a conservative, either, even though I’m very much in favor of free markets and very much against welfare states. This not-so-unique combination of beliefs makes me a libertarian. In other words, I’m smack dab in the middle of that gray area I mentioned earlier.
The same problem crops up when talking about conspiracy theories. Some people have the strange idea that all liberals believe in conspiracy theories, and therefore, I, as an assumed liberal, must believe in every conspiracy ever. Other people assume that, since I consider conspiracy theories to be the products of paranoid people with overactive imaginations, I’m a neo-conservative pining for a New World Order. Indeed, I see nothing wrong with globalization, but no, I’m not being paid by the government to discredit conspiracy theorists. I do that last bit out of the goodness of my own heart.
Not only is this kind of black and white thinking ignorant and completely misguided, it has the potential to be extremely dangerous. Take Michelle Malkin and her insistence that the Left (always capitalized, like all fictitious entities are) is engaged in a war against military recruiters. She makes the completely daft assumption that, since anti-war anarchists tend to be left-leaning, every liberal in existence hates the military and wants to blow up recruiting stations. Right.
There is no Left and Right. The political spectrum isn’t a line with two extremes and a bunch of stuff in the middle. That’s why it’s silly to say that liberals are communist and conservatives are fascists. They share ideals, yes, but they’re not the same. A political compass is the better way to look at things. Conservative demagogues like Malkin look at politics based completely on social views. However, that’s not all politics is. Political compasses like The Political Compass or the World’s Smallest Political Quiz include economic views in addition to social views. They’re more accurate because they avoid the idea that politics are black and white.
I doubt that this sort of thing will ever go away. As long as politics exist, so will the idea that there are only two camps. It certainly doesn’t help that the United States is essentially a two-party system. But I won’t get started on that. Not in this post, at least.