Dirty Words

IMG_2069 by Steph Holton

The Oregon primary is fast approaching (May 17, to be exact), and the presidential candidates have thrown around a lot of political terminology that can be confusing or misleading. These words seem so obvious that they never get explicitly defined, leading to misconceptions across party lines and the actual stigmatization of certain descriptors that shape entire campaigns. I believe that this lack of clarification is a major roadblock in our quest to become informed voters, and the stigmatization of such important terms creates a chasm that halts discourse between parties. So, for myself, for my fellow student voters and for good pub conversation, I have decided to provide here a definition (each compiled and simplified from multiple web sources including Dictionary.com and Encyclopedia Britannica) of two of the most talked-about terms in the 2016 presidential race, which in different social circles have reached profanity-level reproach.

Capitalism is an economic system in which private ownership drives production for profit. Capitalism has several manifestations – free market, welfare, or state, to name a few – all of which exhibit different goals.

Socialism is likewise seen in many forms. Democratic socialism, being the focus of the current presidential race, is an economic and governing principle that supports production in terms of social ownership, alongside governing through political democracy.

The terms and ideologies of capitalism and socialism are both awash with nuances and possible secondary implications, all of which are dependent on the specific politician in question. “Capitalism” is not synonymous with “fascism,” and “socialism” cannot be simplified into “communism.” What I’m really trying to get at, though, is that nothing in this presidential race is as straightforward as “this vs. that,” and knowing where our candidates stand on the issues and even within their own ideologies is a crucial step in feeling confident about our votes come Election Day.

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