Jack Simpson - Are we living in a country divided by labels?

Have you noticed how prone some people are to putting labels on everyone else and their ideas? Where do you fit - black, white, Catholic, Jew, Republican, Democrat or Independent? If you are a Democrat, are you a New Dealer or a Yellow Dog?

When one speaks, is he or she a conservative, moderate, or liberal? What do all these terms mean anyway? Are we required to carry around a Webster's Dictionary to determine if an expressed idea is liberal because it stands for tolerance, reform and progress? Maybe the speaker is conservative, opposed to change and in favor or preserving established institutions. If he has avoided extremes, the speaker is probably moderate, but how do we know what label he really should be placed under?

Perhaps when he expresses himself, the speaker isn't being malicious, only direct and not even thinking of political correctness. I suppose there are many citizens with multi-interests who consider themselves independent minded and really do not believe their ideas are worthy of any special label. They are not particularly partisan minded and are only trying to say what they mean.

Should one of these persons happen to mark a ballot based on the ideas of a particular party, does that mean they are forever frozen under that particular label? People do study and learn from experience and they do change their minds as events evolve. Thinkers do not enjoy being frozen ideologically incapable of decision making based on new facts and later developments.

For example, recent news stories reflect some voters labeled Republicans are now unhappy with that label. They share discontent with the President and his war policies. Some have publicly distanced themselves from President Bush in seeking reelection.

Some are expressing concern about where the country is headed in matters of national security, healthcare, immigration, service to veterans, the war, budget, setting aside of national principles and other plans for the future of the nation. Once the GOP label was comfortable for these individuals, and now, maybe, a new label is being sought. What will it be?

Any new designation will immediately bring forth a wrecking crew standing by to criticize ideas not in keeping with their own. Patriotism, character and motives will be questioned, and even name calling will result.

Whatever label we are placed under, most Americans do not want to see poor children pushed deeper into poverty as the gap between the rich and the poor widens, while tax cuts and subsidies for the affluent continue rising. The middle class hopes to regain some of their purchasing power.

In the next election, voters may seek a label that includes a renewed sense of moral courage in government. Citizens seem to be seeking change. They do not like leaders who have put self interest above public welfare. The people would like a renewed public confidence in our political system and in our leaders. They will cast a vote for those who indicate they have the courage to address the uncertainties and inequities in the system. People want to live in a nation that places emphasis on justice, fairness and hope. This is what America is about, isn't it?

What label does this fall under? Get out the Webster.

Jack Simpson is a former educator, veteran, author, and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each Sunday.