“1984” or 2016? Doublethink in politics.


Photo by Sarah Scherer

In George Orwell's "1984," the Party's paradoxical slogans reveal the way the Party kept power over the people of Oceania.

Sarah Scherer, Managing Editor

In his dystopian novel “1984,” George Orwell introduces many disturbing concepts. These ideas, which include “newspeak” and “doublethink,” still remain relevant in politics today.

The language of Oceania, or newspeak, limits an individual’s range of thought by way of an over-simplified, restricted language. One might compare newspeak to the two-sidedness of politics today within America’s two-party system. While finding the middle-ground of any given controversial issue is relatively easy, the press hardly ever discusses these rational compromises.

Perhaps this you’re-with-us-or-you’re-against-us mentality exists because to compromise is considered failure. However, recognizing at least some validity within the other side’s argument is crucial for intellectual growth. The appropriate response would then be to adjust one’s position, which is not at all dishonorable, but rather honest, or strengthen one’s argument by accounting for the hole identified by one’s opponent.

Surely, filling of the holes in one’s argument can only be done if his or her argument is intellectually honest, which equals holding consistent, noncontradictory beliefs.

Intellectual honesty is something that is void in politics today.

Doublethink, Orwell’s second concept, pervades the platform beliefs of both the Democrat and Republican parties, and among self-proclaimed liberals and conservatives. Doublethink is the ability to hold two contradictory beliefs at the same time, and still accept both of them.

Let’s explore the doublethink in politics today.

pro life

Typically, conservatives are pro-life when it comes to abortion, but do not oppose capital punishment, or the death penalty.

Conservatives support their pro-life stance with two core beliefs: the religious belief of the sanctity of life and the constitutional belief of humans’ natural right to life. So, why do these important beliefs become null-in-void when discussing capital punishment?

Does sanctity of a person’s life depend on the actions of the person? As a Christian, the Jesus I know befriended those rejected in society, including the tax collector, the prostitute. As He died on the cross, essentially a victim of murder, He said, “Father, forgive them.” He did not call for Judas’ or Pontius Pilot’s death in revenge.

Does the government have the right to end someone’s life? The founding fathers would likely say “no,” considering the document they wrote makes explicit the opposite.

The Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

pro choice

Conservatives aren’t the only ones who hold contradictory beliefs when it comes to the issue of life. Liberals will turn a blind eye when innocent children are robbed of a chance at life, all while screaming injustice when a murderer is sentenced to death, deprived of the rest of his or her life.

bush doctrine

Conservatives spout the importance of the U.S. Constitution and the philosophical genius of our Founding Fathers when they declared “all men are created equal.” Our unalienable rights, conservatives will insist, are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Too often, conservatives confuse the term “all men,” meaning all humankind, for meaning “all Americans.” Perhaps this is why they see no contradictions in their support of what is known as The Bush Doctrine or preemptive war. The Bush Doctrine is described in the 2002 National Security Strategy:

“And as a matter of common sense and self-defense, America will act against such emerging threats [WMD] before they are fully formed. In the new world we have entered, the only path to peace and security is the path of action. We will disrupt and destroy terrorist organizations by: defending the United States, the American people, and our interests at home and abroad by identifying and destroying the threat before it reaches our borders. …we will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self-defense by acting preemptively against such terrorists…”

While perhaps logical in theory, the Bush Doctrine in practice has led to certain warfare practices that infringe upon the unalienable rights of humankind.

Excusing collateral damage from bomb strikes for the sake of killing an alleged terrorist is certainly not respectful of life as this action results in the innocent lives of the hundreds or thousands of civilians being injured or killed because they are in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The U.S. ignores the unalienable right of liberty when it occupies sovereign nations such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria for the purpose of expanding its interests. Who are we to act as the world police?

Finally, how can one pursue happiness when his or her rights to life and liberty are compromised on such an intense level?


Liberals will insist that Islam is a peaceful religion. I, too, believe the majority of Muslims are not Muslim extremists. However, those people who point out the totalitarian nature of Sharia Law, a tenet of the Islam religion, should not be deemed bigots or Islamophobes.

These accusations, often by liberals toward anyone who criticizes Islam, are particularly contradictory since liberals tend to emphasize women’s rights and gay rights. Under Sharia Law, women are second-class citizens, and homosexuality is a crime punishable by death.

The discussion is important, certainly from a human rights perspective. It is not bigoted to discuss Muslim extremism, but rather necessary so that Muslims can differentiate and separate themselves from their extremist counterparts.

big gov

Conservatives do not like big government, except for when it comes to military spending and drug use.

The U.S. spent roughly $596 billion on defense in 2015, more than China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, the United Kingdom, India, France and Japan combined. If conservatives want to talk about how government spending is out of control, ask them about our $600 billion military budget. If conservatives want to talk about decreasing government power and influence, point out how the military, in its magnitude, could dominate any opposing force, including U.S. citizens.

Drugs are devastating to an individual. They often cause mental and physical damage beyond repair. However, the individual chose to take the drugs. The punishment of mental and physical decay should be enough – we don’t need to arrest them, too. Surely, a more logical deterrent, one in-line with conservative philosophy, would be to educate people about the effects of drugs. Arresting someone for their personal life decisions that affect their life, not the lives of others, is big government by definition.

The exception is driving under the influence. Just as it is with alcohol, the act of driving under the influence of drugs should remain punishable by law because it endangers others.

One argument for the war on drugs is that drugs are so devastating to people that the government should protect citizens from drugs by making them illegal. However, I fail to see how throwing someone in jail for a crime made only against their bodies qualifies as protection. Required rehab? It is still big government, but not a bad idea.


Liberals say healthcare and education are rights. What do they mean by this belief? They say the government should supply everyone with healthcare and education. The term “right” means a very different thing when discussing the Bill of Rights, or the Second Amendment right to bear arms. Surely, a liberal does not think the government should give every citizen a gun. Conservatives don’t either, but that is beside the point.

This inconsistent, sometimes inaccurate use of the term “right” is confusing and misleading. No thanks to certain Democratic politicians for their misuse of the term.


Edward Snowden used to work for the Central Intelligence Agency. He leaked the details of the CIA’s extensive phone and internet surveillance, most notably Prism internet surveillance. According to BBC, “That report was followed by revelations in both The Washington Post and The Guardian that the NSA tapped directly into the servers of nine internet firms, including Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, to track online communication in a surveillance program known as Prism.”

Snowden, a whistleblower, informed the American people that the U.S. government is recording “every keystroke.” Many conservatives, who believe in the right to privacy, called Snowden a traitor on the basis that he compromised security by revealing “classified information.” Never mind the fact that the U.S. government is undoubtedly infringing upon what many conservatives believe is a right.

gun control

Liberals are critical of police forces for a number of reasons, but it all boils down to one claim: law-enforcement officers do not do a good job of protecting citizens. If the police are incompetent, where is the logic in disarming citizens, so they are unable to protect themselves when the police fail? The answer? There is none.

Secondly, liberals, more often than conservatives, are proponents of treating mental health problems as physical illnesses, understanding them as physical illnesses are understood, treating them medically as physical illnesses are treated.

However, when arguing for more gun control, liberals will claim that “more guns” equal “more suicides” and “more homicides.” Liberals argue against the undeniable fact that guns, inanimate objects, do not commit suicide or murder. People in unhealthy mental states do. If liberals want people to take mental health seriously, they should recognize it as the cause of these kinds of violence.

Liberals insist mental health assessments be given to anyone trying to purchase a gun. If someone sees a psychiatrist or psychologist, their second amendment right to bear arms can be taken away from them without due trial. This policy doesn’t line up with liberals’ mission to de-stigmatize mental health and to recognize it as something that can be treated and healed.