Political Terms: Danger in Misinformation

Election season is finally coming to a close, and politics are as confusing as ever.

 

For a few months now, we have not been able to escape political campaign commercials. Words like “far right” and “fascist” as well as “far left” and “communist socialists” have flooded both television and YouTube advertisements.

 

With so many political terms being tossed around interchangeably, we are practically conditioned to believe they all have the same meaning – but the reality is, they do not. In fact, most of these terms are drastically different in meaning.

 

Just like our world is not black and white, political views are not left or right. Everyone falls into a specific sector on the political spectrum, with some views being closer to the center and others straying farther to the extremes. Put simply: a liberal is not the same as an anarchist,

Photo by PLCS Schools

 

 

What are the definitions of each political term, then? Sourced from britannica.com, here are the most commonly used political terms and their definitions:

 

 

 

 

Liberalism: Political doctrine that takes protecting and enhancing the freedom of the individual to be the central problem of politics. Liberals typically believe that government is necessary to protect individuals from being harmed by others, but they also recognize that government itself can pose a threat to liberty.

 

2. Conservatism: Political doctrine that emphasizes the value of traditional institutions and practices. Conservatism is a preference for the historically inherited rather than the abstract and ideal. 

 

3. Democratic Party: Generally associated with more progressive policies. It supports social and economic equality, favouring greater government intervention in the economy but opposing government involvement in the private noneconomic affairs of citizens.

 

4. Republican Party: Supports states’ rights against the power of the federal government in most cases, and it opposes the federal regulation of traditionally state and local matters, such as policing and education.

 

5. Communism: Both a form of government and an ideology. As the latter, it predicts a dictatorship of the proletariat established through violence and the eventual disappearance of class and state. As the former, it is equivalent in principle to the dictatorship of the proletariat and in practice to the dictatorship of communists.

 

6.Socialism: Social and economic doctrine that calls for public rather than private ownership or control of property and natural resources. Socialism is not tied to any specific ideology, it presupposes the state, and it is compatible with democracy and peaceful political change.

 

7. Anarchism: Cluster of doctrines and attitudes centered on the belief that government is both harmful and unnecessary. 

 

8. Fascism: Extreme militaristic nationalism, contempt for electoral democracy and political and cultural liberalism, a belief in natural social hierarchy and the rule of elites, and the desire to create a Volksgemeinschaft (German: “people’s community”), in which individual interests would be subordinated to the good of the nation.

 

As you can see, these terms are not as similar as political commercials may have you believe. 

But why is that important? After all, it is a political tactic to use strong words against the other side. Well, the tactic is an issue in and of itself. There is a point when blowing up a situation with such inaccurate terms becomes a dishonest representation of a candidate. Not only that, the use of these words in incorrect contexts teaches us to associate them with their incorrect meanings – and that can greatly impact decision-making when it comes to voting.

 

Here in Miami, this has led to significant problems, especially among the Cuban-American population. Whether you support Joe Biden or not, after reading these definitions, it is plain that he is nowhere near a communist. He lies closer to the center of the political spectrum, leaning to the left but far from the extreme. A moderate, you can call him. But the false identification of Biden as a communist is not only politically ignorant; it spreads that ignorance to a point where it is harmful to both politics and people.

Photo by Periódico Cubano

As a Cuban-American myself, it is incredibly disappointing to see many from my cultural group believe the propaganda they are fed. I have posted on my personal social media accounts about my left-leaning political views, and my own family members have responded to posts with pure disgust, calling me “comunista” and “socialista” and even “castrista.” I am personally disgusted by communism, yet my own family groups me in that category solely for leaning toward the left. Anyone can see what is wrong with that.

 

As Americans, if we do not want our political views to be misrepresented, then we must defend the proper and truthful representation of both sides of the political spectrum. We need to be educated about political terms so that we do not fall prey to the lies of either the left or the right.

 

Are all right-leaning people racist and misogynistic? Are all left-leaning people anarchists or dictators? Definitely not. So, why should we permit the media and political candidates to represent us as such?

 

It’s about time politics was about the truth.