The Battle Against Political Misinformation


Edward Bunch III, Staff Writer

Since the early 70’s, politics and election debates in the United States have slowly degraded into solely personal attacks on character.

The main difference between the bickerings of today’s politicians and their predecessors is the excessive use of sweeping generalizations to demonstrate an urgency for action.

Today’s politicians have been content with slinging accusations of treasonous behavior and indoctrination in order to rally a support base against their opponents.

In a late August rally in Pennsylvania, President Joe Biden spoke of a need to hold “MAGA Republicans” accountable for their repeated threats of treason–seen in the public response to an FBI raid on former President Trump’s Mar-A-Lago property–and branded them “Semi-fascists.”

The use of the term semi-fascist is ironic, as fascism is not a concept or ideology that can be achieved without dedication.

The President’s grammatical withholdings speaks to a deeper issue in U.S. politics: The oversaturation of ambiguous language in order to manipulate voting audiences.

The President likely used “semi” in order for his observations to not be perceived as extreme slander, while still utilizing “fascism” to express valid concerns over the actions of prominent political figures.

Thus far, the age of the Internet has been successful, but measures to counteract misinformation on all levels have yet to be effective enough to both combat deceptions and educate readers.

In order to prevent the spread of misinformation between UWF spaces, let’s review some of these heavily used political terms and their history.

It is important to understand that each term on this list places on the political spectrum from left to right wing, with extremist thinking–Anarchy for left-wing and Nazism for Right-wing–accounting for the ends of the spectrum.

Thus, many prior beliefs and perceptions of these terms may feel confusing, as we have all separately formed our own definitions through our social circles and personal experiences.


Communism is an umbrella of far-left political ideologies that strives for a classless society in which property and wealth are communally owned or distributed rather than belonging to a handful of individuals.

By definition, communism a system of government and economics; however, most of those who use the term as an attack are insinuating that there is a sinister goal of governmental power and control behind the ideology.

Creation of the term is most commonly credited to Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, who coined the term while writing the Communism Manifesto, which was published in 1848.

Communism’s most recognized applications were during the reign of the Soviet Union–now Russia–during the 20th century, as well as China.

Although communism was initially viewed as a revolutionaries’ creed, as Marx was inspired by the French Revolution, its attempt to establish itself globally is estimated to have taken the lives of almost 60 million people.

During the implementation of communism, the leaders of these respective countries’ political and military branches were extremely violent towards both domestic and foreign populations.

The conviction for violence that the leaders of these governments possessed drove them to seek out power, no matter the expense. Thus, the idea of communists has emotionally stained the minds of many across the world.

In today’s politics, referring to one as a “communist” is typically an attempt to demean them as an anti-patriot and a sympathizer of political violence.


Socialism is a left-wing ideology that strives for collective, public ownership of the means of production in society. Socialism is inherently a system created for the common good of citizens in a nation.

Due to this inherent principle of equal distribution, the governments of socialist nations are responsible for the legal oversight of distributions and pricing.

Socialism is further right on the spectrum than communism due to a few minor differences, but they are still very similar in ideology and policy decision-making.

When the term socialist is used as a description of someone in a political context, the speaker is typically trying to indicate that the said person is complacent with “allowing the government overreach to occur.”

Although many socialists simply believe that government intervention is an efficient manner in which to run their country, the insult attempts to paint them as lazy citizens who love–financial–handouts.


Capitalism is an economic system in which the free market of ideas and products determines who, what and where earns profit.

In capitalism, private owners have full control over most aspects concerning their respective businesses, thus the success or failure of their business is meant to be dependent on the supply/demand of the market.

Due to the idea that capitalism rewards those who work hard enough, it has become the staple economic system in most Western nations.

Although capitalism is the term most typically associated with economics, the history behind the nations who brandish it are just as bloody as their peers.

The United States and United Kingdom are two of capitalism’s biggest pioneers.

As both nations colonized “foreign native lands,” the inter-cultural interactions that occurred between their populations created a space for new products and practices.

Thus, colonization and capitalism have gone hand-in-hand for centuries up until now.

Critics of capitalism typically utilize the term as an insult against those whom they believe are unempathetic to the experiences of those who suffer the most under capitalism’s exploitations.

Capitalism is commonly deemed the reason behind many of today’s global issues: poverty, discrimination, and greed. Being credited for the Atlantic Slave Trade and similar tragedies does capitalism little favors in this department as well.

By definition, the term capitalism refers solely to a free-market economic system. In the political context, it insinuates that the subject cares more about financial profits than human suffering.


The next two terms we’ll be reviewing are unique to their predecessors in a couple of ways.

Unlike the previous terms–where the term is a system but is used based on emotional experience–fascism and nazism are fundamentally ideologies that adopted an economic system along the way in order to create high-functioning governments.

In economic terms, fascism is run on socialist principles–governmental power and jurisdiction–with the “selfish” and personal gains aspects of capitalism.

Historically, fascists have proclaimed a path to power in order to “fix” the state of their nation or the experiences of their countrymen.

What they actually tend to do is use the suffering of their fellow citizens in order to manipulate voting bases and swiftly move into positions of power.

In the minds of voters, fascism was the political choice for a nationalist vote. Benito Mussolini–former leader of Italy during the 20th century–coined the term in 1919 during his rise to power.

Although Italy were the founders of fascism, the ideology quickly spread around Europe and was even seeing during the reign of Nazi Germany.

The main identifiers of fascism are as follows: Absolute power of the state, rule by a single dictator, extreme nationalism, superiority of the “nation’s people,” and a culture of imperialism and military fortitude.

Fascist governments also typically portray themselves as the best functioning system in some industries. For example, Mussolini was infamous for “keeping the trains running on time” with his efficient public transportation system.

Although it later came to be known that the trains weren’t much more efficient than they previously were, Mussolini’s ability to deceive the public gave him unwarranted credibility in the minds of his citizens.

The world has not seen an explicitly fascist nation since the destruction of its founders during World War II; however, shades of its policies are seen throughout the governments of many powerful nations.

Those who use this term as an insult are typically attempting to raise warning flags on the character of the individual, after observing one of the types of fascist behavior listed previously.

President Biden’s usage of “semi-fascism” may have been ill-advised, however it does raise some concern over the potential political and militant situations we may see in the future.


Nazism is a political ideology adhering to the moral compass of the nineteenth century German racialist movement, which clearly defined the “desirable” and “undesirable” categories of people.

Like fascism, nazism isn’t a system of economics but rather a mindset that pushes its followers to attain positions of power in government. Nazism explicitly outlines how the “Aryan race” are the true children of God, and thus have a duty to create a world where the ideal society can be realized.

Nazism is inherently violent, authoritarian and bigoted. Its beliefs can create negative–and likely deadly–perceptions towards specified groups of people, such as people of color and those who identify as a member of the LGBTQ+ community.

The term “Nazi” is derived from its founding party’s original name, the National Socialists. Since socialism is a system that prioritizes collective prosperity, many assumed that the actions of their authoritarian leaders were the correct decisions.

Although there are currently no known nations operating off of Nazism, there are many cultures and groups of people across the globe that embrace its ideals of white supremacy.

In a political context, this term is usually used to raise red flags about the subject’s moral compass in addition to the danger they may present to others.

Since the actions of Nazi Germany have been universally condemned, use of this term can also be an attempt to ostracize the subject from any potential support.


The generalization of complex political terms can be a poison to well-informed democracies. When the passing of misinformed, biased beliefs go unchecked, they are able to leave sustaining damage on a society for decades.

Thanks to the capabilities of technology, the public has become vocally critical of not only public officials, but of celebrities’ actions as well.

The result of this is what some call “cancel culture” and others call accountability, where one misstep may leave you in the bad graces of the public eye forever.

Regardless of one’s opinion on whether or not celebrities should be held accountable for their actions, there should be a level of accountability for public officials of all levels.

Such due diligence on the public’s behalf—or that of higher officials—makes it difficult for a preventable scandal scenario to occur, similar to the Rick Scott medicare fraud case resurfacing recently.

Due diligence for public officials also prevents an abuse of power, a habit commonly found in corrupt governments or those of fascist structure.

“It’s important to understand that terms like anti-capitalism, marxism, etc. are typically what people use to describe personal political viewpoints but they can host a whole set of varying opinions on policy,” said Dr. Adam Blood, a professor at UWF and teacher of the “Propaganda and Persuasion” course at the university. “A lot of these words can be used as political attack terms, either with historical accuracy or as a shorthand for all the qualities in the person that they’re attacking.”

In recent years, politicians and analysts alike have often resorted to attacking the opposing party’s candidates with terms like “communists,” “socialists” and “fascists.” This behavior is unlikely to stop anytime soon, due to the sensationalization factor we see in most American political media today.

In most cases, these terms are purposely not being utilized properly in order to create a more favorable outcome for one’s personal narrative.

Blood believes that when interacting with these terms, it’s important to keep an open perspective on their usage.

“When you’re going to get on some of these hot button words… instead of focusing too much on what it means to be a socialist or communist, have very specific things that you are arguing for in an issue rather than getting bogged down in definitions,” Blood said.