“When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

That pithy advice endears us to the movie “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” but it's polluting contemporary political discourse. If you get out front with a catchy dismissal of an opposing viewpoint, and if you keep saying it over and over in a loud enough voice, the legend becomes fact. It is the inevitable effect of too much internet and TV.

It takes effort to read a book, so why not save yourself the time of researching a statement that might only disabuse you of a dearly held bias? Case in point. There are intelligent arguments that can be made why a politician like Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders might not be the best president, but it takes time to make the case. So just call them “socialists.” That insufferable straw man argument is the best many conservative critics can muster. Neither Bernie or Elizabeth is arguing for what they decry. How depressing to hear people rant that food stamps and the ACA are turning us into Venezuela or communist China.

Protecting the environment is not socialism. Providing a national defense is not socialism. Providing for the welfare of the citizenry (health care ) is not socialism. In fact, it’s mandated in a little document called the Constitution. “Provide for the general welfare.” Anyone who paid attention in Econ 101 should know that some necessary services will never be provided by individuals via the free market because of economies of scale which only the government can provide.

Making capitalism work better and more fairly is not socialism. Calling it such is the hallmark of the dumbing down of America.

Dan Woll

River Falls