The Fallacy Of Labels

And now it’s Secretary Clinton’s turn to be tagged with a label by Donald Trump! After applying sobriquets to Low Energy Jeb Bush, Little Marco Rubio, and Lying Ted Cruz, The Donald is now alternating between Incompetent Hillary and Crooked Hillary.

By doing so, the leading Republican Presidential candidate is drawing attention to the validity of such labels. Are they ever truly accurate? Or are they simply misrepresentations of the beliefs and positions of our political leaders?

While pondering these questions, it may be helpful to consider the American President who may have accomplished more than any other to usher in the modern era of limited government. He presided over the deregulation of the airline industry, the abolishment of usury and other interest rate regulations, and the phase-out of price controls over domestic oil supplies in the United States.

Indeed, he may well have been the most free market oriented leader of the five American presidents who held office during the 1960s and 1970s. Was he Republican President Gerald Ford? Or Richard Nixon?

Believe it or not, this Presidential promoter of capitalism was Jimmy Carter. He signed the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 into law. He also signed the Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act of 1980. And he signed the National Energy Act of 1978, followed by the Energy Security Act of 1980.

These laws, considered in tandem, collectively implemented the massive deregulation of the American transportation, financial services, and energy industries. That’s why a conservative libertarian web site and a liberal progressive web site agree that the left wing label that is often affixed to President Carter requires “rethinking.”

Ironically, the two Republicans who served in the Oval Office immediately prior to Carter may have been the most economically liberal Presidents in modern times. How so? Gerald Ford, for instance, ultimately decided to participate in the fiscal bail-out of New York City after he initially rejected the Big Apple’s plea for federal aid. And Richard Nixon temporarily ordered “a freeze on all prices and wages throughout the United States” in order to tame inflation.

Apparently, like the liberal label on President Carter, the conservative labels on Presidents Ford and Nixon are extremely misleading monikers. Ironically, many contemporary pundits have declared that Donald Trump’s self-characterization as a conservative is actually fallacious as well.

So what should we do with these political labels? Perhaps we should simply pay no attention to them. Instead, perhaps we should strive to understand each politician’s policies and positions before we draw conclusions about their philosophical leanings.

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