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Charles's avatar

Why does every discussion turn into a Left vs. Right issue?

Asked by Charles (4804points) January 9th, 2012

Why does everything from high-speed railways to concentration camps in North Korea get made into a left vs. right issue? Why can’t anything political be discussed without making jabs at Republicans or Democrats or turning it into some Right- or Left-wing thing? Why can’t global issues and bipartisan issues be discussed as just that—issues that have nothing to do with political parties in the U.S.?

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15 Answers

SavoirFaire's avatar

Unfortunately, political parties have decided to make everything about themselves. So if you try to be bipartisan, non-partisan, or anything else, they’ll be too concerned with who gets the credit to worry about doing anything creditable.

bkcunningham's avatar

I honestly don’t know.

marinelife's avatar

Partisanship has replaced decent discourse. Polarization has replaced consensus.

rebbel's avatar

And there are elections glooming.

SmashTheState's avatar

There is no left wing in Amerikan politics. Every issue is turned into a far right wing VS lunatic ultra-far right wing issue.

Blackberry's avatar

The two-party system is very pervasive in our culture? Even if we like a 3rd party candidate, there is an unspoken truth that the person will never be elected. Since this stuff is so pervasive, we identify with one side whether we want to or not, or should I say, others place us in the camps whether we want to.

Each camp has certain issues that are attributed to it. This is why it almost never fails, that if I tell someone we should have single-payer healthcare, I’m labelled as either a democrat or liberal. I do agree that American Democrats are just center-right, when people really think they are very left. This shows what the media and lack of attention have done. I can’t count how many times liberals have been called communists, socialists, marxists etc (when it patently obvious the U.S. isn’t close to anything like this).

DaphneT's avatar

See here for the history of the terms. Everything you’ve listed descends into those types of discussions because the decisions on any topic in the past 2 or 3 centuries of human history were made from one of those perspectives.

While one does not need to reference the U.S. political parties to discuss bipartisan issues, by definition of bipartisan one does incorporate a reference to such for most Americans. I think it is difficult for most Americans to talk about multiparty political systems because we haven’t effectively achieved a multiparty system yet.

Then there is the issue of the media dumbing down for the masses. Since the reporters are hard put to eloquently explain a right-left-wing, a moderate-left-wing, a moderate-right-wing, and a left-right-wing, and anyone else on the spectrum, where do you think that leaves anyone who napped through American History 101, American Government, and Civics courses?

incendiary_dan's avatar

Schema theory.

wundayatta's avatar

Because there is a difference of opinion on all these issues, and the differences can generally be fairly categorized as falling into fairly specific camps.

Don’t confuse the fact that the various sides have labels for making it into a left vs right issue. The issues are argued on their merits. It’s just the people with different sets of opinions are grouped together into like-minded groups.

Jaxk's avatar

It’s really a tactic used by both sides to some degree. If you can discredit the person, you’ve nullified their position. By using the typical derogatory terms for the different groups either conservative or liberal, or Democrat and Republican, you can marginalize what ever they say. That’s why you see the Right Wing Nuts, or socialist, or any number of labels associated with a specific argument. Marginalize the person and the argument becomes nullified. Straight out of the Saul Alinsky handbook.

wundayatta's avatar

@Jaxk marginalizing the person is in the Saul Alinsky handbook? I never heard anything that cynical in my time at the Midwest Academy.

You’re just making a little below-the-belt jab, right? Sounds like it’s more out of the Bill O’Reilly handbook, to me. Is that the one you keep on your bedside table?

SavoirFaire's avatar

Wait… have we just turned this into a left versus right issue?

Blackberry's avatar

I keep the Communist Manifesto nex to my bed, but all these right wingers need to get rid of their NSC 68 and Ayn Rand! Lol.

Jaxk's avatar


I’m not sure if your serious or not but I thought everyone knew of Saul Alinsky’s ‘Rules for Radicals’ published in 1971. Among them is Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon and “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it”. These tactics are prevalent today and used extensively.

wundayatta's avatar

@Jaxk Nope. I’m serious. I believe you. Fortunately, it wasn’t something I was taught.

But I’d make a horrible politician since I believe in fair play. Still, if one side does it, then the other has to. How can you stop or step back? It seems to me that the right wing is far better at it than the left.

Of course, I guess I think you can win the battle, and maybe even with the war, but lose the peace. If you ridicule people, you will create a permanent bad feeling within the person you ridiculed. At some point, you are going to need the cooperation of that person, and they will not forget what you did before. They won’t cooperate. I think this is exactly what is going on in Congress now.

Thus, no one is willing to compromise. Better that the country go down in flames than we have any compromise that would allow the opponent a victory.

That’s what you get when you use some tactics in politics. And once you use them, there’s no taking them back. If this country gets better, it will happen in spite of the government, rather than because of it.

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