Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Right Vs.. Left

Below is an excerpt from the following site:

"A two-foot blanket of snow fell over Washington last weekend, silencing for a moment the shouting and bickering that have come to represent American politics.

This is good for the nation's capital. The stress level here has been high for a long time, but particularly since mid-2008, when the economy heaved and sunk during the last stages of the presidential campaign. In recent years, the most partisan advocates have dominated the political media. Arguments over health care, job creation, the deficit and other issues have reached the point where most politicians - their eyes on the midterm elections this fall - are more worried about winning than making good public policy.

What's missing are moderate voices looking to collaborate in ways that benefit the public. Has the U.S. really become so polarized that there is no middle ground?

It also turns out, says Fiorina, that people who do state an ideological preference aren't very consistent. For example, while 35-40% of Americans call themselves "conservative," studies show only one in five conservatives hold an opinion that is right-of-center on both economic welfare and social-cultural issues. And one-third of so-called conservatives espouse conservative views on neither economic nor social issues!

In fact, most people are not ideological; they form opinions about issues on a case-by-case basis. "Depending on what problems the country faces and the perceived success of existing policies on solving them," Fiorina says, "the large pragmatic public opts for more government on some issues and less on others."

In other words, despite the conventional wisdom that elections and public affairs campaigns are about "motivating the base," it might be a good time for liberals and conservatives to build bridges with those who are moderate or politically inactive. These centrists may be hard to categorize and their behavior may be difficult to predict. Activists may have to become less strident to win them over. "

OK a few comments about this article...

1. I whole-heartily agree with the often-misused "conservative" label. I'm guilty of labeling myself as that, when in reality, I'm a fiscal conservative and a social liberal/moderate. So I guess technically overall I'm a moderate. Labels can be misleading and dangerous.

2. Another reason the typical labels don't work:
- True conservatives are labeled as wanting smaller government, but not really. They only want smaller government in terms of taxes, regulations, health care and business. On national security, immigration, abortion, and gay marriage they want more government intervention.
- True liberals are labeled as wanting more government, but not really. They only want more government in terms of unions, jobs, taxes, health care, environmental protection, and most other economic issues. On immigration they don't want the government to enforce the law. On abortion, religion, and gay marriage they don't want government interference and want maximized individual rights.

3. The media, pop-culture, and politicians have created this artificial world of the right vs the left when in reality most people are in the middle. They agree on some issues and disagree on others. What can you do about this? Don't fall into the trap of classifying yourself into a category. Judge each issue as it comes as a free and independent thinker. Be independent, make up your own mind. And let your elected representative know how you feel about each and every issue - they should be more concerned about representing the views of their constituents rather than always voting along party lines.

4. I really like the image above. I think its a pretty good representation of the different stereo-typical viewpoints. But per my point above, I don't completely fit into either side and I doubt most Americans do either. If we demanded that more of our elected politicians focused on the issues instead of on the labels I think we could get a lot more done as a society.

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