Pete Karas does not like labels. Like many of that segment of the population that show a consistent preference for more government intervention in our lives, in the form of taxes and regulations, and who minimize the importance of family, individual responsibility, and free markets to address our social problems, they don't want to be labelled. They don't want to be called liberals.
But labels are important shortcuts that make dialogue possible. Do we ask for a disc shaped slab of ground and cooked cow flesh wedged between two pieces of bread when we go to McDonalds (itself a label), or is it easier to ask for a hamburger?
Even the name Pete Karas is a label. Without his name, or label, we might have to describe him as "that politically active Racine alderman most noted for his opposition to guns and his support for a publicly owned power company."
Labels are not a bad thing. We need them. But labels should be accurate, and in this regard, Pete may well have a point. The term "liberal" has different meanings for different folks, because of the modern liberals, I would argue.
"Liberal", as it pertains to political philosophy, is defined as "favorable to individual liberty, social reform and the removal of economic restraints." Most folks that are commonly known as liberals today are more interested in imposing economic restraints (higher taxes, more regulations) than in removing them, so perhaps "liberal" is not the best label for Pete and for those who believe as he does.
Some known as liberals prefer the term "progressive." This term is defined as "favoring political and social progress and reform." But this term is far too broad as virtually anyone with even the slightest interest in politics would favor progress.
So how do we label them accurately? Here, Pete can be most helpful. Let us look at his policy preference, as this may help us to accurately label him.
Pete, as I have already mentioned, is most noted for his opposition to guns, or at least the right to carry them while concealed, and for his support for a publicly owned power company. I strongly suspect that Pete supports the public ownership of schools and education, and I suspect that he favors universal health care. I trust Pete will correct me if I have mistakenly characterized his positions.
Pete's positions demonstrate a consistent preference for the collective. Government should control the production and distribution of education, health care and power. Conversely, individuals should have less or no control in these matters, except that which they can garner through the political process. Even his position on gun control indicates the preference for the collective. Individuals would be prevented from defending themselves against predators with guns. That job should fall to the government.
Socialism is defined as "a political and economic theory advocating collective ownership of the means of production and control of distribution. It is based on the belief that all, while contributing to the good of the community, are equally entitled to the care and protection which the community can provide."
Given Pete's well known politcal positions, it would be more accurate to label him as a socialist, a statist, or a collectivist than it would be to describe him as a liberal or a progressive.
I therefore label Pete Karas a socialist, not in an effort to disparage or humiliate him, but rather to accurately describe his political philosophy. Should Pete or anyone else find this label offensive, I have but one question. Is it accurate?