“Liberal/progressive/socialist/Democrat”? That’s tantamount to accusing someone of being a “conservative/regressive/white-supremacist/Republican.”

Our current climate of debate has become so burdened by label-making that thoughtful discussion is virtually impossible.

What the encumbered “liberal” description above represents is a lack of knowledge. It proceeds from little or no understanding of political philosophy.

Such a clumsy definition has to be regarded with suspicion. To begin with, anyone suggesting it has obviously never studied George Holland Sabine’s “History of Political Theory.” An excellent primer on the subject.

For example, the progenitor of modern conservative thought famously said, “The only thing needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”

And the quote, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” was made by Sir John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton. British historian, author and always an ardent liberal. Not Thomas Jefferson, who was a staunch anti-Federalist.

The father of modern conservative thought rose in Parliament to defy his sovereign, King George III, and give a speech entitled “On Conciliation with America”.

In his remarks, he sided with those in colonial America dissenting against the crown. In so doing, he was not only rejecting British aims, but the very idea of Divine Right Rule. The King was not simply another political figure, he was the annointed of God.

The point is this: The premier exponent of conservative philosophy not only offered a condemnation of the policies of the British Empire, but stated that the colonists had every right to engage in rebellion. Even if it meant taking up arms against their divinely appointed monarch.

If the reader claims to be a “conservative”, then he/she must be able to describe how a Whig member of Parliament could make such a case. If that person cannot adequately explain the minister’s argument, then he/she quite simply doesn’t know what they’re talking about — and cannot assume the mantle of a “conservative.”

Therein lies the crux of the problem. The followers of Donald Trump do not know the founder of their “ideology,” nor can they describe its basic tenets.

Edmund Burke created modern conservative political thought. And the only way anyone can answer the question of how he could have supported colonial opposition requires two things: first, a full understanding of conservative beliefs, and second, a thorough study of Burke’s speech.

Anything less is unacceptable represents a person more interested in groundless bluster than the truth.

And this type of individual is the central focus of study in Erik Hoeffer’s seminal work, “The True Believer:” a blind follower whose views are so corrupted by indoctrination and tainted rhetoric that no amount of reason or proof can dispel his/her distorted preconceptions.

Those of us old enough to remember it recall the equally empty and vicious assault on the American psyche proffered by Joseph R. McCarthy, who gave his name to an era based on hearsay, guilt by association, innuendo and emotionally charged attacks that had absolutely no basis in fact. The operative label in that period was not yet “liberal socialist” but “communist.”

Finger-pointing, name-blaming, scapegoating or any other desperate attempt to falsely characterize opposing views is barren, desolate and utterly meaningless.

One Joe McCarthy is enough.

Ammon, a longtime lakes area resident, has written a book entitled “State of the Union: Observations on American Life.”