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Memories of the 28th Century

Nomenclature of Political Parties

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For some reason I started thinking about the Guelphs and Ghibellines, Tories, Know Nothings, Northern Leagues, and various other names that political parties have chosen. While some of the names were intended to show what the party was about, the stance of the party on issues and political preferences tend to evolve over time; thus the name might cease to be appropriate. And some of the names are just words that were applied to a political group.

Perhaps the most interesting terms have been "conservative" and "liberal". Conservative means "disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc." Ironically, the policies supported by political conservatives usually are things that formerly existed, but no longer exist and things that were replaced by what is currently in place.
Liberal is from the Latin word for freedom. The word was long used in the term 'liberal arts', which means those arts that are appropriate to free men. It wasn't applied to politics until the early 1800's, when it was used for Enlightenment ideals of freedom, such as free speech, free press, free trade, etc. Liberal still retains that meaning in most of the world, but in the United States of America it had a shift in the 1960's and 1970's, when it was adopted by doctrinaire Socialists who wanted to appear to be acceptable to American voters. The Socialists were having a hard time recruiting, because of the association of Socialist with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), and the Doctrinaire Socialists terms such as "politically correct" started to move into the general language.

Another result in the shift in meaning of liberal was that people of a liberal mindset had to call themselves "Classical Liberals to differentiate themselves. And the next liberal political party in the U.S. calls itself "Libertarian", which meant belief in free will.

Then there are the Republican and Democrat parties. The Republican Party started as an abolitionist party, and it became the party of freedom until the Democrats borrowed those issues back when Nixon was president, but the Republicans had dropped those issues and took up Nixon's issues of monarchism, support military contractors, tax the poor, and the other issues that they still support.

The Democrats have had a longer and more twisted history. After starting out as the Democratic Republicans back in the 1790's, as the party for democratic institutions, they kept that identity through thick and thin and degeneration to the level of Andy Jackson. But the interest in Democratic institutions waned; although a preference for the federal constitution did not; thus they became the political party that opposed the power grab by the federal government who had just taken control of the federal government. Thus, the Democrats came to be regarded as the party of the South, and the Republicans were regarded as the party of Lincoln and liberty.

Fast forward to 2019 and we have a mentally defective Republican in the White House, and the Democrats seeking to replace him and mostly doctrinaire Socialists, while the few remaining liberals call themselves Libertarians.

I would like to propose a simple system of nomenclature: Those that favor treating everyone equally will be called Egalitarian, and those who favor treating some people better and'/or worse than other will be called a Discriminator. There would still be room for the Monarchists, Fascists, etc., and some of the minor parties might become major; it has happened before, and it might happen again.

This system of nomenclature would be superior to what now exists, but it would break down at some point. It might actually be better to have the Guelphs and Ghibellines again, and people could make the name mean whatever they wanted.

Note: See the linked page for information about the Guelfs and Ghibellines, note the change in meaning after 1268.

The Economist has an inconsistent concept of what conservative means. Ideas like this make it hard to justify that as a valid term for anything.