Op-Ed: A Case for Being Pedantic


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The debate surrounding Defund the Police is just one example of many where politicians lie about their opponents for their own political gain at the expense of the health of our political system (Source: https://bit.ly/3e6Qo3T).

Liam Thompson, Contributor

Socialism: it’s when the government does stuff. This common meme phrase is often used to highlight how readily/easily people accuse things of being socialist when they do not like those things. Perhaps the clearest example of this is when Georgia representative Marjorie Taylor Greene declared that vaccine passports “are fascism, or communism, or whatever you want to call it.” Communism and fascism are two very different political terms, and a vaccine passport is neither.

Call vaccine passports an authoritarian overreach, a gross violation of civil rights, a tool to help ensure the safety of the population, or whatever you want. But don’t call them something they’re not. Oversaturating the public sphere with false accusations diminishes the magnitude of these terms and warps our understanding of government.

A clear example of this is the rhetoric surrounding the Defund the Police movement. While it is true that certain members of the Democratic Party support the movement, President Joe Biden is wholly opposed to defunding the police. Fear mongering by accusing President Biden of wanting to defund the police not only spreads falsehoods, but also distorts our understanding of the policy itself. Defunding the police comes with a clear agenda, and maligning all Democratic police bills changes the term from being policy oriented to becoming a tool to aggravate reactionary forces and inhibit all attempts at change.

Former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, highlighted this problem in a Democratic Primary Debate. Buttigieg said, “if we embrace a far-left agenda, they’re gonna say we’re a bunch of crazy socialists. If we embrace a conservative agenda…they’re gonna say we’re a bunch of crazy socialists.” By embracing this type of rhetoric, politicians may hope to gain an edge in their current election. Long term, however, this type of rhetoric will harm society by removing depth from political debates and forcing everyone towards extremes.

Maybe people are aware of this but don’t care. There are politicians who have lied about their opponent to further their own electoral chances without caring about future repercussions, and there will be more in the future. Regardless of party affiliation, there will always be those who put their own career over the good of the country. But we, as the collective political whole, must work to undo the damage done by these individuals. We cannot allow our discourse to devolve into name calling and fear mongering. If we do, we will end up in a position where we are all so convinced that everyone who isn’t us holds such extreme views that we isolate ourselves. Together, we must overcome the desire for political opportunism and work to build an environment of healthy political discourse.