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The Collective
Friday, October 19, 2007
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Earlier today I noticed that my post from this morning on evangelicals and the GOP field/some evangelicals and Romney’s Mormonism had been linked by both Real Clear Politics and Salon’s The Blog Report (thanks for the links, btw).

What I found both interesting and amusing is the following: at RCP the post was listed as “From the Left” and at Salon it was “From the Right”:


From RCP:


From Salon:

Now, we are talking about the same exact post.

I have made fun of the fact that I have been classified on different parts of the ideological spectrum of late, but at least those cases were references to different posts.

Still, what I find intellectually interesting about these classifications is that on balance I don’t think most people, even (apparently) many who in engage in political commentary, really have much of an idea what “left” and ” right” really means, despite the fact that terms are constantly tossed around (usually as epithets, but not always). Usually the designation is really a shorthand for Democrat or Republican. I presume that I was originally pegged by Salon as “of the right” because of my general Republican orientation during the last election, and no doubt that RCP decided I was “of the left” because I have been critical of the administration of late. The post itself is neither positive nor negative in regards to the GOP, but rather simply discusses what I see to be true about the party’s candidates at this time and the prevailing attitudes between the voters and those candidates.

Really the whole notion that the realm of political philosophy is binary (i.e., Left or Right, Democratic or Republican) is problematic, as one cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, fit all persons into one of two boxes. Nonetheless, we get so caught up in which party we “belong” to or which candidate we have vested our emotions in, that it makes it seem like the political world is made of nothing more than 0s and 1s. However, this is not the case and I am more than happy to be considered difficult to categorize.

I will say this in regards to the presidential candidates: for the first time in my life I am in the position wherein I don’t like any of the candidates of either party all that much. Moreover, I am in a position wherein I find the frontrunner of the party I have more affinity with to be a rather distasteful choice for president (i.e., Giuliani) but yet I have no interest in supporting the Democrats, either, especially their front runner.

So, I suppose in terms of the simple world of US electoral politics, maybe RCP and Salon both got it right in regards to me…

Regardless, I still think that we really never give the Left/Right labels all that much thought, despite the fact that we use the words all the time.

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12 Comments

  1. Congrats, Steven, you’re a Centrist! :-)

    Regards, C

    Comment by Cernig — Friday, October 19, 2007 @ 6:48 pm

  2. Thanks.

    However, not to be argumentative, but I “centrist” doesn’t fully cut it either, as it buys into the notion that there are are two pole (left and right) and that one has to fit on that spectrum.

    Granted, in US politics anyone who is disillusioned with the current parties often ends up being either a “centrist” or a “third party oddball”, with the former being more socially acceptable :)

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Friday, October 19, 2007 @ 8:22 pm

  3. I generally find that in my actual policies, I lean right, but I generally get along with the left better. For example, I detest people like Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and Michelle Malkin, but merely am amused by people like Michael Moore and Pandagon (or at most just annoyed).

    Comment by Anon — Saturday, October 20, 2007 @ 12:56 am

  4. Centrist? And here I thought he was a libertarian realist!

    Comment by Jay — Saturday, October 20, 2007 @ 8:14 am

  5. As shorthand, I would describe myself as falling in the small “l” libertarian range, but not one who is, in general, an adherent to the Libertarian Party.

    I am realistic about the role the necessity of government, so am not a minimalist in that regard.

    However, none of that makes me a “centrist” in terms of modern American politics.

    I am especially keen on individual rights, probably to the degree of being on an extreme wing of US politics. The only area that I would be considered strongly “conservative” in terms of individual rights would be abortion.

    In terms of the way I live my life is almost stereotypically social conservative: married with three kids, my wife was a stay at home mom up and until recently, regular church attender, etc.

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Saturday, October 20, 2007 @ 11:44 am

  6. Why not take this test some British academics came up with, Dr. Taylor:

    http://www.politicalcompass.org/

    It’s not the Nolan Test or the Pournelle Test or any of the others you are probably familiar with that you can find here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_spectrum

    It is probably a two axis simplification of this

    http://www.pages.drexel.edu/~garfinkm/Spectrum.html

    Flipped on its head.

    The plot of the 2004 presidential:

    http://www.politicalcompass.org/uselection

    Current field of candidates:

    http://www.politicalcompass.org/usprimaries2007

    Alternatively, there is always Integral Politiics, and Spiral Dynamics but that’s something the hippies are into. And according to Ken Wilber, Buddha was a Republican.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/slark/69955103/in/set-72157594473314980/

    Comment by LD — Sunday, October 21, 2007 @ 8:03 pm

  7. LD<

    Thanks for the links. I have taken that test before, and retook it on a whim: it places me, as I would expect, the Right-Libertarian quadrant (where, by the way, by their plotting of the presidential field, no one resides).

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Sunday, October 21, 2007 @ 9:08 pm

  8. Ron Paul comes close to that sector. I have some issues with the relative positions of some of the candidates but I think that is a result of their not having access to the totality of all the statements of all the candidates (they are Brits), and maybe that would just present them with more contradictions and difficulties. They are dealing with politicians after all, and pols running for office, so they tend to tailor their messages to their specific audience. Ron Paul has been endorsed by the Neo-nazis at Stormfront, (I kid you not) and David Duke of the KKK but try as he might he hasn’t won over the Southern Reconstructionists yet. The question is, Dr. Taylor, how far to the right are you economically? Austrian School? All the same, I’m glad to hear you are down here in the front row with the rest of us anti-authoritarians. After reading Altemeyer’s work, The Authoritarians…

    http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/

    I wish more Americans would try to break the habit of confusing the left/right economic scale with positions on a specific war, which are not the same as militarist/non militarist, and the authoritarian/libertarian axis and on and on. It fails miserably. BTW, According to Altemeyer’s study, left wing authoritarians are “as rare as hen’s teeth”. But he’s a Canadian…

    Glad you enjoyed it.

    Comment by LD — Sunday, October 21, 2007 @ 10:50 pm

  9. Ron Paul comes close. I have some issues with the relative positions of some of the candidates but I think that is a result of their not having access to the totality of all the statements of all the candidates (they are Brits), and maybe that would just present them with more contradictions and difficulties. They are dealing with politicians after all, and pols running for office, so they tend to tailor their messages to their specific audience. Ron Paul has been endorsed by the Neo-nazis at Stormfront, (I kid you not) and David Duke of the KKK but try as he might he hasn’t won over the Southern Reconstructionists yet. The question is, Dr. Taylor, how far to the right are you economically? Austrian School? All the same, I’m glad to hear you are down here in the front row with the rest of us anti-authoritarians. After reading Altemeyer’s work, The Authoritarians…

    http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/

    I wish more Americans would try to break the habit of confusing the left/right economic scale with positions on a specific war, which are not the same as militarist/non militarist, and the authoritarian/libertarian axis and on and on. It fails miserably. BTW, According to Altemeyer’s study, left wing authoritarians are “as rare as hen’s teeth”. But he’s a Canadian…

    Glad you enjoyed it.

    Comment by LD — Sunday, October 21, 2007 @ 10:51 pm

  10. “I will say this in regards to the presidential candidates: for the first time in my life I am in the position wherein I don’t like any of the candidates of either party all that much.”

    My oh my: you have just admitted that you still thought highly of Bush in 2004… How can that be? When was it that you saw the light?

    regards

    Comment by james — Tuesday, October 23, 2007 @ 7:20 pm

  11. I did vote for Bush in 2004 as I preferred him over Kerry.

    Things started to take a dive sometime in early 2005.

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Tuesday, October 23, 2007 @ 8:38 pm

  12. […] In 2001, there was still considerable room for serious thinking and debate among political blogs, and I enjoyed it. Why, back then, even Atrios and Instapundit said nice things about each other! But by 2007, whatever nuance that used to exist in blog commentaries has been largely abandoned in favor of echo chambers within each ideological community and the clash of binary opposites between them. (To illustrate the latter point, consider how intelligent political commentary gets automatically pigeonholed these days.) Some happy exceptions exist, but even the most sober-headed bloggers will have a legion of ugly commenters to deal with. […]

    Pingback by Antecedents to the Blog « Like Cooking a Small Fish — Thursday, October 25, 2007 @ 1:26 pm

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