Suppose I were to call myself a liberal – now I'm a SUV-hating, gun-banishing, baby-killing, animal-hugging, take-a-bullet-for-gay-marriage fanatic, right? Or if I say I'm conservative – now I'm a homophobic, abortion-clinic-bombing, madman-with-a-gun-and-a-car-bomb religious nut, right?

There seems to be no middle ground, as if one's entire moral code is structured around those two labels. Perhaps for some people they are, but I prefer to analyze the situation at hand, rather than simply agreeing with my fellow wingers, and this leads to system of beliefs far more complex than simply "liberal" or "conservative." That isn't to say that others don't – the purpose of this essay isn't to condemn others for defining themselves so narrowly; it's to beseech others not to define other people so narrowly.

I'm all for liberalism and conservatism, as concepts. What I'm not for is liberals and conservatives as people; I will agree if you say that a certain idea is right-wing or left, but to call a person by such labels, I think, is oversimplifying to issue too much. I myself have been called both, at different times, because I hold beliefs that could be classified differently, and to assume that you know my entire moral code, who I'm going to vote for, and what kind of car I drive simply because I made one statement that was conservative or radical is wrong. I am more complex than that, and I'm willing to give others the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are as well.

Sometimes we seem to lose focus of this: rather than a clashing of ideals, we see a clashing of people, of Congressmen and candidates blaming each other for the economy or the unemployment rate, calling out people as radical, conventional, or moronic, rather than calling out their principles as wrong or amoral. It ends up, in the political arena and even on the reviews pages of FP.com, as an immature clash of people calling each other names that all come down to "liberal fanatic" or "conservative religious nutcase."

As I said, sometimes people lose focus of the core issue: ideals, not people, are at war. Labels like conservative and liberal only make it easier to turn things into a flame war, but I'm perfectly willing to live with such labels, as long as we can all agree to use them on beliefs and not other humans; as long as we can agree not to define others, or their entire belief system, with a single word. I'm sick of being defined as a conservative when most people who call me such don't even know half of my principles, and I'm sick of being looked down upon by my classmates for it; just as I will not look down on people who express liberal ideas, I ask my fellow FP users not to look down on myself or others who express opposing ideals.