10/25/2013 07:27

Labrators and Kimberlites

I think that most people consider the names of political factions as labels without any internal information content. (In my days of employment in information processing, I'd call attention to these kinds of labels by pointing out they could just as well be AAA and AAB.) In fact, if I went to a couple of 7th graders and told them that the names of 2 factions were the Labrators and Kimberlites, they would unhesitately begin to elucidate those groups' platforms based solely on connotation and association.

Never mind that one of the names refers to a group of rocks.

It's perfectly normal for 7th graders to try to position themselves in the wider world using all the limited facilities available to them. A connotation based on pronunciation is a better guess than a random match, although not by much. They are making legitimate attempts to organize the information they are given about the world.

For the average voter to use the same process is less acceptable.

Most of the time, I run on the opposite side of the river. When I see a reference to Liberals, I start asking, "What are these Liberals being free with?" Or if it is Conservatives, I wonder, "What is it that these Conservatives are trying to preserve?" When reading about politics in Europe, my mind has an even wider field in which to play: Labour, Christian Democrats, and all manner of other labels. One of the oddities of U.S. politics is that the parties have taken on names which, in the modern North American context, do not distinquish one from the other: Republican and Democratic both refer to exactly the same concept of government.

The negative aspect of my intellectual searching is that I many find an answer to my questions, and I may not like it very much. Yesterday I returned to my questions about Liberals and Conservatives. Here is what I said:

What is it that liberals are free with? They are often free with their imaginings of how the world could be. What is it that Conservatives are trying to preserve? They seem to want most of all to protect their fantasies.

It may be too much to hope that political speeches might be grounded in actual reality but I'd like to be able to believe that people will try to compare the political positions with the best information about reality available to them. That's how I imagine the world might be; it is the fantasy that I try to conserve.