Words are hard

A lot of political terms in the United States that you hear regularly thrown around are somewhat contradictory and confusing. I sometimes wonder to what degree the convoluted nature of our political vernacular plays into political misunderstandings.

A few examples:

  • In the context of the United States, people who are “liberal” fall somewhere on the left-wing end of the political spectrum. However, a person who identifies as a “classic liberal” is really a libertarian. That falls on the right-wing end of the spectrum.
  • “Socialism” falls on the left-wing end of the spectrum. However, “National Socialism” is really Nazism, which is fascism, and that falls on the right-wing side of the spectrum.
  • “Neo-conservatism” and “neo-liberalism” are both right-wing concepts, but their names suggest that they are opposed to one another.
  • Many people in the United States use “independent”, “moderate”, “centrist”, and “unaffiliated” as if they are synonymous. They’re not. Generally speaking, “independents” do not identify with a political ideology or movement; the term “unaffiliated” is generally used when referring to person who has not joined a political party. “Moderate” usually connotes adhering to political beliefs not considered extreme, whereas “centrist” is someone whose beliefs fall on the center between the left-wing and right-wing of the political spectrum.

These are just a few examples I’ve seen.