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By Mike Cronin
The realm of politics is huge, and it can be confusing. Pundits are always talking about liberals & conservatives, Democrats & Republicans, ideologues & demagogues, and many other terms. How can we make sense of it? In basic social studies or political science classes, teachers may introduce and discuss a model called the political spectrum. If you “google” images for “political spectrum,” dozens, if not hundreds, of different models will be displayed. The most basic (and most commonly employed) model places Fascist totalitarianism (like Germany under Hitler) on the extreme right side of the scale, and Socialism or Communism (like the former Soviet Union or modern North Korea) on the extreme left side. A government, a country, or a person’s political position can be gauged on this spectrum.
The problem with this model is that while the ideologies of Fascism and Communism may differ on the surface, in practice they result in the same conditions for the vast majority of people who live under them: tyranny, fear, and poverty. There may be distinctions between the two on paper, but in reality both ideologies are collectivist; that is, they believe that the state, or the party, or the race, or the group, i.e. the collective, is more important than the individual, and that the individual exists to serve the larger group. In other words, both of these forms of politics, communism and fascism, treat humans like bees or ants, i.e. as drones (or slaves). No individual is important, only the party, or country (or hive/colony, i.e. collective), matters.
The achievement of the founding fathers was in creating a nation founded on the concept that the individual has rights that are inherent, that is, they are not granted by the state, and that the purpose of the state is to protect those individual rights.
So, with mid-term elections coming this November, consider this: Whether a politician identifies as a liberal or a conservative, a Democrat or a Republican, does not matter as much as this: What does his or her character and voting record reveal about their understanding of individual rights? Will you elect a defender of your rights, or a beekeeper?