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Meaningless Words in Politics

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Published : August 27th, 2012
476 words - Reading time : 1 - 1 minutes
( 104 votes, 4.7/5 ) , 13 commentaries
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Category : Editorials





As we enter the fall political season, we will hear a great deal of rhetoric from both major political parties and their many candidates for office. It's important for us to remember, however, that words can be made meaningless by misuse or overuse. And when we as citizens allow politicians to obscure the truth by distorting words, we diminish ourselves and our nation.

For example, we've all heard politicians use the words "democracy" and "freedom" countless times. They are used interchangeably in modern political discourse, yet their true meanings are very different. They have become what George Orwell termed "meaningless words". Words like "freedom," "democracy," and "justice," Orwell explained, have been abused for so long that their original meanings have been eviscerated. In Orwell's view, such words were "often used in a consciously dishonest way."

Without precise meanings behind words, politicians and elites can obscure reality and condition people to reflexively associate certain words with positive or negative perceptions. In other words, unpleasant facts can be hidden behind purposely meaningless language. As just one example, Americans have been conditioned to accept the word "democracy" as a synonym for freedom. Thus we are conditioned to believe that democracy is always and everywhere benevolent.

The problem is that democracy is not freedom. Democracy is simply majoritarianism, which is inherently incompatible with freedom. While our Constitution certainly features certain democratic mechanisms, it also features inherently undemocratic mechanisms like the First Amendment and the Electoral College. American is a constitutional republic, not a democracy. Yet we've been bombarded with the meaningless word "democracy" for so long that few Americans understand the difference.

If we intend to use the word freedom in an honest way, we should have the simple integrity to give it real meaning: Freedom is living without government coercion. So when a politician talks about freedom or liberty--regardless of the issue being discussed-- ask yourself whether he is advocating more government force or less.

The words "liberal" and "conservative" have also been abused. "Liberalism," which once stood for civil, political, and economic liberties, has become a synonym for omnipotent coercive government. Liberalism has been redefined to mean liberation from material wants, always via a large and benevolent government that exists to create equality on earth.

"Conservatism," meanwhile, once meant respect for tradition and distrust of active government. But in recent decades conservatism has been redefined as support for big-government grandiosity via military adventurism, corporatism, and inflationary monetary policy. The modern political right has redefined conservatism into support for an all-powerful central state, provided that the state furthers supposedly conservative goals.

Orwell certainly was right about the use of meaningless words in politics. Our task, therefore, is to reclaim our language and reclaim our liberties. If we hope to remain free, we must cut through the fog and attach concrete meanings to the words politicians use to deceive us



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Congressman Ron Paul of Texas enjoys a national reputation as the premier advocate for liberty in politics today. Dr. Paul is the leading spokesman in Washington for limited constitutional government, low taxes, free markets, and a return to sound monetary policies based on commodity-backed currency. He is known among both his colleagues in Congress and his constituents for his consistent voting record in the House of Representatives: Dr. Paul never votes for legislation unless the proposed measure is expressly authorized by the Constitution. In the words of former Treasury Secretary William Simon, Dr. Paul is the "one exception to the Gang of 535" on Capitol Hill.
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Thank you Mr. Paul for reminding folks about labels. While I disagree with him for a number of reasons over a number of issues, by and large, I'm thrilled that he is presenting an alternative to dumbass Red vs dumbass Blue.

Sadly, we have our junior high scholars whom still have access to their Mom's computer L Chat...ignore the junior high commentator. It is not yet ready to discuss issues with adults.
Rate :   27  3Rating :   24
Platitudes from Ron Paul that belie his attitude toward Lincoln and the Civil War -- and what his real attitude toward freedom is.

He is for freedom, but in the context of State Rights. Which is why he's argued Lincoln had no right to defend the Union against Southern secession -- nevermine such secession would have prolonged the sufferings of thousands of African-Americans, the rapes, the tortures, the forced separation of children from families.

An isolated case? No. In the debates he argued against Obamacare, but not against a State enacting such. You see he believes the Federal Government has NO authority over anything a state decides to do.

The naive and confused man is retiring from politics after this last unsuccessful bid for the Presidency.

Adios and good riddance.
Rate :   14  109Rating :   -95
Come on. Lincoln was not anti slavery, you know that.

The war against southern independance has nothing to do with slavery and all about the empire. Nothing has changed, but it may be the time, or it will implode from within.
Rate :   72  7Rating :   65
You'll notice that Jim is purposely oblivious of anything in the history books that would detract from the Sainthood that Jim would give Lincoln if he had the ability. The fact that an individual with the character of Jim C is even allowed to comment on someone who has at least three times served his country with integrity and honor (in the military, as a doctor, and in congress) is difficult to endure, but such is our world. The willfully ignorant can armchair snipe and accuse without the need to take responsibility for their remarks.

I wish Ron Paul would have a lot more years left in him so that his leadership could effect a positive change so desperately needed now and in the years to come.

Rate :   50  8Rating :   42
Mr Hart:

Although Mr. C can be harsh with his critiques of Mr. Kunstler and Mr. Paul, it does not mean they are invalid. I've noticed you never respond to his arguments but only result to insult. And you even advocate that he be expelled from this site.

Mr. Kunstler attacks public figures freely and opens himself to like treatment. I urge you to focus on the arguments of the individuals and not the individuals themselves.

I advise this to keep these otherwise excellent boards free of personal animosity.

Ms G.
Rate :   8  56Rating :   -48
Given the number of down arrows Mr. C receives I would have to say you are in the minority.

As for responding to his arguments, I've done that on several occasions and it's only brought out more ludicrous drivel from the individual. Mr. C doesn’t respond well to reason or historical facts if they don’t happen to fit his personal beliefs.

You defend someone who’s sole purpose in commenting is to smear the authors, bring up issues which have no relevance to the article, and simply see his own slewed thoughts in print. One almost has to ask if Lovetochat is yet another one of Jim C’s logins. I’ll turn this back to you, you only seem to comment when it’s in defense of Mr. C after he’s made a comment that’s not related to an article and someone takes him to task for this. You never have much to say about any particular article, at least not that I’ve ever seen.

I’m sure everyone would be happy to see less of Jim C’s off the subject ranting’s as well as my posts trying to keep things focused. So you strike a deal with Jim C to stay on topic and I won’t have to show my distain for individuals who try to jack a thread.

I would far more enjoy more of the intelligent sharing of idea’s that happen with articles not written by authors that Jim C harbors some personal hatred for.

Rate :   43  5Rating :   38
Mr. Hart:

Well, I tried. I'm not the first person here you have decided to personally attack rather then respond to issues. It's a lost cause and I won't waste further words with you.

Ms. G
Rate :   4  49Rating :   -45
Rate :   21  3Rating :   18
Mr. C:

Mr. S. is correct in saying Lincoln was pro-slavery, at least initially. If Lincoln could have saved the Union by keeping slavery he would have. And Mr. Paul's primary objection to Lincoln was the lives lost on both sides which could have been avoided by diplomacy.

Ms. G
Rate :   8  8Rating :   0
Ms. G,

Lincoln was NOT pro-slavery. His earliest recorded writings explain as much. He did not want the Civil War, but once commited, resoved to end slavery entirely. Has everyone here forgotten the 13th Amendment, that he initiated and that was implemented after his murder????

As far as Ron Paul is concerned, no one at the time envisioned the tremendous loss of life that would ensure. It was expected by all to end within a matter of months.
Rate :   10  41Rating :   -31
No war was necessary to end slavery. Most countries abandonned it peacefully
Rate :   36  2Rating :   34
Why would anyone give you a down arrow for making the statement that most countries peacefully abandoned slavery?
Rate :   16  3Rating :   13
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SNAFU - 8/28/2012 at 11:20 AM GMT
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