Letter to the Editor

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If the conservative movement in the United States insists on referring to the liberals as “radical left socialists,” then perhaps it makes sense for the liberals to constantly refer to conservatives as “radical right fascists.” One makes as much sense as the other. Both are rhetorical hyperbole. Both are geared to capture the imagination of people too busy, too ill-informed or just plain old disinterested to think past the sound bite.

Conservative rhetoric is often prefaced with the phrase “radical left socialism,” equating it to the Marxist/Maoist revolutions of the 20th Century. The liberal rhetoric, on the other hand, tends to be more ethereal failing to catch the imagination of the masses. The conservatives give the people something to hate or fear, capturing their attention exciting their survival instincts. Liberals give people something to dream about.

Dreaming is pleasant and feels good, but fear grips the human psyche. It is instinctual, unavoidable. Liberals take note: fear gets attention; platitudes do not.

Conservatives are united in their messaging. They all beat the same drum. Liberals, form factions of disparate ideologues, each promoting its own ideology with few practical solutions.

Conservative rhetoric fails to acknowledge that institutions like public education, unemployment insurance, Social Security and such are examples of socialism. When asked if those socialist benefits should be eliminated, the answer is a resounding no. Liberal rhetoric promises to expand such left leaning programs but little of the danger of the conservatives’ desire to eliminate them.

In truth both are wrong, but that is the nature of rhetoric. Today, conservative rhetoric is stronger. Liberals need to up their rhetorical game. Liberals should focus more on decrying the ills of “radical right fascism.” Looking up the definitions of rhetoric, fascism and socialism in any good dictionary is a useful exercise.

I take no position, right or left. But I am acutely aware of history’s lessons, though, and they teach in civilization after civilization, from antiquity to modern times, as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, revolution becomes ever more nigh.

Jon Barton

Coos Bay


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