Is left vs. right becoming archaic in political thought?

by thoughtfulconservative

Arianna Huffington says so in this welcome letter to the newly launched The Daily Caller.

Anyone looking at today’s political landscape with clear eyes can see that on issue after issue — the war in Afghanistan, the bailout, health care, the war on drugs, etc., etc. — the binary division of the debate into right vs. left obscures more than it reveals.

John McCain and Maria Cantwell are joining forces to bring back Glass-Steagall-type banking regulations. Ron Paul and Alan Grayson are pushing through legislation to audit the Fed. George Will agrees with Russ Feingold that we should not escalate in Afghanistan. Howard Dean and Michael Bloomberg are both down on the health care bill. And on and on it goes.

The outrageous news last week that the New York Fed under Tim Geithner told AIG to withhold from the public key details about payments that put billions of dollars into the coffers of major Wall Street players, including Goldman Sachs, offers a perfect example of just how archaic the right vs. left framing is.

Hmmm. There are areas where some on the right and some on the left agree, but for different reasons. For example, the right trumpeted Dean’s call to start over on health care because we don’t like the present bill. But we would like Dean’s version even less, I suspect.

I would suspect that Will’s and Feingold’s reasons against escalation in Afghanistan would be different though the result is the same.

Maybe. Maybe not. Time will tell. There’s more. Read the whole thing and see what you think.

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7 Comments to “Is left vs. right becoming archaic in political thought?”

  1. Left versus right has been inadequate for a long time, assuming it was ever really adequate. The Political Compass is an expansion of the traditional left-right axis into two independent scales of economics and authority. I would encourage you to take the test to see where your views fall on the scales.

    However, even after seeing this, I am not certain it is completely adequate. At times I have identified other potentially independent scales as well, though the two identified above are definitely primary to many political issues.

  2. I think Arianna Huffington is a self-promoting, unprincipled nutcase. Oh, that’s not what you meant, was it?

  3. elliot – HA! Well said.

    Bruce, Well, I took the test again because I couldn’t remember and couldnt’t find my score from before and I wound up .25 on left/right and -.41 on the authoritarian portion.

    Following are the questions I felt were inadequate in some way.

    Page 1 – “Our race has many superior qualities, compared with other races.”

    Page 2 – “The rich are too highly taxed.”

    “Those with the ability to pay should have the right to higher standards of medical care.”

    “A genuine free market requires restrictions on the ability of predator multinationals to create monopolies.”

    Page 3 – “Those who are able to work, and refuse the opportunity, should not expect society’s support.”

    Page 4 – “A significant advantage of a one-party state is that it avoids all the arguments that delay progress in a democratic political system.”

    “The death penalty should be an option for the most serious crimes.”

  4. Just saw this page which seems to say I fall between John Edwards and Dennis Kucinich. Hmmm. I know I’m whacky but ….

  5. elliot: agreed. However, as the saying goes, even a stuck clock is right twice a day.

    Dean: I agree there are a number of questions that are potentially problematic, though not most of the ones you indicated. Out of curiosity, what in particular do you find inadequate about those?

  6. Some of my objections were answered as I continued exploring the site and that I should just answer the best I could. But as to the ones I noted,

    “Our race has many superior qualities, compared with other races.” I’m not sure what they are getting at. I believe our race has many superior qualities but I believe other races also have superior qualities.

    “The rich are too highly taxed.” Depends on your definition of rich. I have a high definition, let’s say $100 million. If that’s the case, then no. So I guess that’s the one I used.

    “Those with the ability to pay should have the right to higher standards of medical care.” I’m really undecided on this. You can’t leave stuff blank, so I answered it.

    “A genuine free market requires restrictions on the ability of predator multinationals to create monopolies.” No it wouldn’t. But it’s a moot point because we’ll never have a “genuine” free market. So what’s the point?

    “Those who are able to work, and refuse the opportunity, should not expect society’s support.” OK, the key word is “opportunity,” so that determined the answer to my question. But what if there’s no opportunity?

    “A significant advantage of a one-party state is that it avoids all the arguments that delay progress in a democratic political system.” Well, of course, it does, but who wants to do it that way? Seems like a silly question to me.

    “The death penalty should be an option for the most serious crimes.” I believe in the death penalty; I just don’t believe in the current US justice system to administer it fairly or in a way that would allow it to be a deterrent or adequate retribution. So yes, if they did it my way. More here.

    I answered them the best I could and assume even with changes, I would hover around the center. I suspect I’m there because I answered merely Agree and Disagree rather than the stronger Strongly Agree or Strongly Disagree.

    But there you have it.

  7. “Our race has many superior qualities, compared with other races.” I took that as that other races don’t.

    “The rich are too highly taxed.” I took rich as something around a net worth of $1M. In any case, the line may be intentionally blurry. The intention may be to ask if you think there is a class of people who need to be heavily taxed.

    “A significant advantage of a one-party state is that it avoids all the arguments that delay progress in a democratic political system.” Yes, it does avoid the arguments, but is that an advantage?

    I would think it’s hard to get away from the center unless you strongly agree or disagree. That’s kinda the point. If you don’t strongly agree or disagree, you are at least closer to the center.

    Anyways, the biggest thing to take from that site is a better tool for examining and explaining political ideologies and practices than just the simplistic left-vs-right axis. Are more axes needed? Off the top of my head I can’t think of any that are truly orthogonal to those two, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any.

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