Newmann: A party of one
Jan. 3, 2023, is a red-letter day for Congress, since, on that Tuesday, the 118th session of the august body will convene. Lots of new faces and, by all accounts, quite a few differing ideologies among the members. One might say business as usual.
There are liberals and conservatives. Some of the folks are hard-line liberals, others are equally hard-line conservatives. Then there are conservative liberals and liberal conservatives. And let’s not forget the progressives … and the regressives. And how about the RINOs, the DINOs, the MAGAs and even an independent or two (who may also fit into one or more of the above categories). And who knows how many other unidentified species we’ll have on that Capitol stage when it returns to business. Seems like you can’t tell the players without a program … if you can even find a program.
While all the different political labels seem to give an identity to the politicos and their devoted followers, they often end up being just … labels. For some odd reason, human nature has a tendency to defy being put in a neat little box. Say you define yourself as a political liberal. But you’re also a fiscal conservative. Hmm … where does that put you? Or maybe you style yourself as a staunch conservative but you also took advantage of government payments during the COVID-19 crisis. Bit of a paradox there. So much for labels.
Seems like many of us are individual hybrids of different philosophies, both political and social. We can be all in on a politician’s views and, in an instant, all out. We can rail against various programs … until we need their assistance. Or we can advocate for a multitude of political measures … until their funding hits us in our pocketbooks. You could go on and on with examples. Maybe it just depends on which scenarios work — or don’t work — for each of us at any given time. We can flip our labels when it suits us. And sometimes not even realize that we’re flipping.
We can be charmed, hornswoggled and bamboozled by the politicos and their labels. We can also be alarmed, maddened and skeptical. Sometimes it’s just a matter of timing and emotion.
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When the new Congress springs (or thuds) into action, we’ll hear plenty of rhetoric, lots of clashing between the parties — and a bunch of folks within each party claiming that their own particular labels are better than those of their teammates — and, of course, those of the opposition. They’ll try to garner support from their own members and from their electorates. And the competition for the best label will go on … and on. With all the accompanying baiting and switching that goes along with political labeling. And libeling.
For the rest of us … well, most of us probably have lives that revolve around more than a singular political or social label. Seems like a waste of time and energy to just look down a narrow path when there’s so much more to view on either side.
Tom Newmann splits his time between Edwards and Queenstown, New Zealand. He has been going winter-to-winter since 1986. He was also a journalist in Missoula, Montana, at the Missoulian for quite a few years. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.