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Too often when discussions are held on DailyKos someone will refer to an argument as a right-wing talking point or a political view as coming from the right. Since often when we are talking about the "right wing", we are basically discussing an established group of people rather than an ideology it is easy to be dismissive of everything "they" say. It gets very confusing as what is considered to the right and what is considered to the left. I fear that we are dismissive of ideas that may have merit, even if those who are articulating them may have nefarious motives.

My view is that arguments from the right are those that provide freedom through individual rights with the far-right basically being a state of nature where anyone is allowed to do anything without any government intervention and ideas from the left being those that impose rules on interaction to support the common good (with far-left being a paternalistic state). Given that individuals can reduce each others rights without rules, these rules can often enhance freedom between individuals even if there is some reduction in freedom because of the rules (a simple example of this is the financial markets where the rules allow system to work and therefore give everyone the freedom to trade).

This framing makes almost all government essentially from the left, but not freedom reducing. The only time the government is right-wing is when it passes laws that inherently limit its own domain (freedom of speech, women's right to choose). For example, Social Security is obviously from the left, but it is hard to argue that elderly with more economic security are less free - similiarly non-employer based healthcare would have essentially the same effect (provide more freedom). It also makes policies such as the Patriot Act essentially from the left in that their advocates are essentially suggesting that citizens must give up rights for the common good.

At the end of the day, it seems to me that what the "right-wing" fails to understand about left policies is that they enhance freedom by reducing the amount that others can control our freedoms. For example, regulating industries often enhances the markets that these industries operate in and gives us more freedom not less. Too often our power as an individual is extremely muted and it is only by acting through government as a citizen that we can achieve true freedom. One thing to be aware of is that by this definition "conservative" ideas such as regulation of a women's right to choose, are not to the right even if they are generated by the "right-wing".

In general it would probably be better not to use the terms left or right to describe policy, but rather discuss why it is a good or bad idea. Policies that restrict rights for the benefit of the common good, can be criticized for how they are overly restrictive and don't actually help the common good. Policies that are from the right should be criticised for providing to much power for individuals to restrict others rights and how they do not address social injustices. I would be interested to hear other perspectives on what they believe defines policies from the right and those from the left.

Originally posted to benb on Fri Jan 18, 2008 at 09:27 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip jar (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    burrow owl, hairspray, Mother of Zeus

    "He knows nothing, and thinks that he knows. I neither know nor think that I know. In this latter particular, I seem to have a slight advantage" - Socrates

    by benb on Fri Jan 18, 2008 at 09:27:37 AM PST

  •  We're all liberals or Democrats, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tom P

    ergo there's a loose consensus that righty points are, in general, bad points.  That's our starting point, and it prevents us from constantly having to revisit first principles everytime we talk policy.  So it is a shorthand, but a very useful shorthand given the nature of the site as a forum for liberal policy and candidates.

    "[G]lobalization is...increasing the efficiency of resource allocation through stronger capital markets" - Barack Obama

    by burrow owl on Fri Jan 18, 2008 at 09:37:59 AM PST

    •  But it can get us into real trouble on Policy (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mother of Zeus

      Much more liberal countries than ours have school choice and understand the trade-offs of universal healthcare (which I am willing to make). It lets off the hook to think about issues. Obama's stimulus plan for example is more tax cut based, than Hillary or Edwards, but basically for speed reasons and not for idealogical reasons, but Krugman is willing to hit him as to the right. Mandates, given my definition are to the right and Obama fans should be willing to admit this and defend them. So I think the short hand is not all that useful and is in fact an insult.

      "He knows nothing, and thinks that he knows. I neither know nor think that I know. In this latter particular, I seem to have a slight advantage" - Socrates

      by benb on Fri Jan 18, 2008 at 09:43:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hopefully, the community is smart enough (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mother of Zeus

        to realize when "right wing talking points" is being used as a counterproductive cudgel.  Maybe that's up there with "hopefully trees are made of cotton candy," but still.....

        "[G]lobalization is...increasing the efficiency of resource allocation through stronger capital markets" - Barack Obama

        by burrow owl on Fri Jan 18, 2008 at 10:01:29 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I'm not sure I agree with that "freedom" argument (0+ / 0-)

    wouldn't a fascist or nazi dictatorship be considered "right wing".  But, they certainly weren't for freedom-just the opposite they were for a strict social order.

    Of course, totalitarian dictatorships can come from either direction-the USSR was a classical example of a highly regimented social system "from the left".

    Apparently, totalitarian systems are not the special property of either political extreme.

    •  Reduction of rights without increase in Freedom (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mother of Zeus

      I had that thought, but facism is weird. I don't know that it fits on classical model of right vs. left. I think it was considered right just because it was counter posed the USSR which was considered Left (and which on a classical model, was far left, being extremely paterlistic). I think there are those that would consider Facism an alternative Left ideology.

      "He knows nothing, and thinks that he knows. I neither know nor think that I know. In this latter particular, I seem to have a slight advantage" - Socrates

      by benb on Fri Jan 18, 2008 at 09:48:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Disagree (0+ / 0-)

        Left vs. Right is typically an economic arguement: the left is for equitable redistribution of wealth while the right believes capital should be free to pursue whatever interests it sees fit.  Assuming you could get everyone to play nice, a county of leftists would look like utopian socialism while the right-wingers would have an equally utopian libertarian system.

        The problem is, in a socialist system you have to somehow compel wealth to be redistributed.  So authoritarianism often gets grafted on to the system and you are left with Soviet-style communism.  While I'm a pretty extremem leftist, that isn't my idea of a good system.

        But what right-wingers tend to gloss over is that their system doesn't work either.  If you take it to it's logical conclusion, the libertarian arguement breaks down because it effectively gives permission to take what you want by (economic) force.  This is why I often refer to Ron Paul's platform as "gunslinger America."  No EPA, no OSHA, let the market "decide" what killed workers and toxic spills are "worth."

        Obviously, neither extreme is a workable system.  Which explains why most of the world operates in between, from the communism with incentives of Cuba (or more recently, China) to the neo-liberal "free-trade" practices common here.  Fascism is basically just the attachment of certain other attributes (institutionalized violence, demonized minorities, ultranationalism) onto the neo-liberal system.  It's opposite would be something akin to trust-busting or New Deal-style socialism.  The same conditions give rise to both systems, as much of the early-to-mid 20th century would indicate.

        Bring the WAR home

        How about a country where the government doesn't tell churches who can marry, and the churches don't tell the goverment who can't.

        by EthrDemon on Fri Jan 18, 2008 at 12:38:24 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Reason for discussion (0+ / 0-)

          I love having other perspectives on this. It is interesting that you perceive left and right as economic arguments. I have always tended to think of them as arguments about rights and that the economic argument stems from the rights argument. If they are simply economic arguments it would be difficult to apply them to other issues such as choice or homosexual rights? (The original terms, according to wikipedia, come from the French revolution where on the right side of parliament sat the traditional monarchists and on the left sat the liberals - this does not really capture either of our descriptions).

          "He knows nothing, and thinks that he knows. I neither know nor think that I know. In this latter particular, I seem to have a slight advantage" - Socrates

          by benb on Fri Jan 18, 2008 at 06:20:32 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  not sure I follow (0+ / 0-)

            So in your scenario would the Left or the Right be the supporter of individual rights?

            If you're saying it's the Left, wouldn't the arguement break down at the fact that government taxation and regulation are actually a reduction of an individual's right to behave economically as they choose?

            If you're saying it's the Right, then wouldn't the socially conservative desire to suppress the rights of homosexuals/muslims/etc be the flaw?

            This may just be an effect of the modern alignment of the "social" and "corporate" conservatives.  (Side note: I will NEVER understand social conservatives.  I would express my desire to be rid of them, if that wasn't exactly what THEY would do.)

            Bring the WAR home

            How about a country where the government doesn't tell churches who can marry, and the churches don't tell the goverment who can't.

            by EthrDemon on Fri Jan 25, 2008 at 11:18:22 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Another possibility (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mother of Zeus

      Right-wing often has tinge of nationalism. I wondering if there is another scale to define right vs. left where right tends to be nationalistic and left is more "common good" where common is general principal and rather than common to a particular set of people. This would make the "anti-globalization" crowd to the right (though they would argue that they are fighting both for national interests and protecting foreign people from the evil corporations ready to exploit them). This is why anti-immigration is to the "right" even though it is a restriction of rights, becuase it defines "common" as being a national interest, rather than a more general "common" of all people.

      "He knows nothing, and thinks that he knows. I neither know nor think that I know. In this latter particular, I seem to have a slight advantage" - Socrates

      by benb on Fri Jan 18, 2008 at 10:02:22 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The right/left (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SeanF

    distinction that you draw IS helpful in considering economic policy and regulatory policy, although, as you point out, it becomes confusing where "social" and "values" get into play because then suddenly anything goes for the formerly "right-wing" thinkers.

    That said, I wholeheartedly agree with you, but your ideas will probably get little traction here.

    Calling something a "right wing talking point" is one of those oh-so-popular, lazy, empty attacks that people who don't really know what they are talking about (and some, oh-so-painfully, like Krugman, who do) like to throw around.  You are doing a service in trying to make people ask themselves what this actually means.  I've thought about doing this in a diary, but never got around to it.

    And you are, of course, absolutely correct about the stimulus measures.  Krugman was out to lunch on that one.  I am trying to figure out what you are saying about mandates, however.  You say they are "to the right," but since they restrict freedom, how can they be?  Do you mean to say that rejecting mandates is "to the right" by your definition?  I agree with that.  

    The reason that fact never troubles me is because when you look beneath the very thin objection to rejecting mandates on the ground that such a rejection is "right wing," it is glaringly obvious which interest group benefits from mandates.  Under the regulatory conditions that all 3 candidates propose, it is the private insurers who most benefit from mandates so they can collect more $$$ and spread their risks to an overall healthier pool.  So to include mandates as an initial policy measure is not only going to create a more politically difficult path to travel, it hands the insurance companies one your strongest negotiating points right off the bat.  The insurance industry will lobby for mandates. You can count on that.  Indeed, Obama has remained open to them without proposing them for exactly that reason.  I have no doubt that mandates will end up in the plan that Obama is ultimately able to get through Congress.

    So by resisting mandates, Obama achieves three goals simultaneously:  he doesn't risk the troubling scenario of penalizing people who simply cannot afford insurance at current rates, even with subsidies; he makes his plan more politically feasible as an initial matter; he leaves himself room to squeeze better concessions on premium reductions and profit controls from insurers in exchange for the government's assistance in enforcing a mandate.  To me, this says that he has thought not only past Iowa and Nevada, but past Denver and November right straight through to what position will enable him to actually pass health care reform.  It depresses me that people still call him an empty suit.  People: please, start engaging your critical faculties a little!!!

    But I digress . . .

    The "right wing talking point" attack, of course, bypasses all of this.  Health care mandates provide an excellent example to illustrate just how hollow this attack truly is.  Paul Krugman may be a renowned economist and I just a lowly former-lawyer-stay-at-home-mom, but I can still see through this garbage.  Thanks for taking steps to analyze this shallow attack point.

    •  You are correct (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mother of Zeus

      I meant "rejecting" mandates was from the right. Your explanation of why this is not a bad thing is great.

      "He knows nothing, and thinks that he knows. I neither know nor think that I know. In this latter particular, I seem to have a slight advantage" - Socrates

      by benb on Fri Jan 18, 2008 at 10:14:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Conservatives are against our unalienable rights. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mother of Zeus

    With the exception of the 2nd amendment, the right does not accept the idea of unalienable rights. Since this is the key point of the Declaration of Independence, and a political philosophy that the founders found "self-evident", they are out of step with the American idea.

    The Constitution was created to put the American idea into practice - the Bill of Rights was created to protect ALL of our unalienable rights (including, as the 9th amendment states, the unenumerated ones.)

    But right wingers have no problem infringing on those rights. National ID cards are fine; no problem when AG Gonzo makes fun of habeas corpus; secret prisons and people held indefinitely without charge is okay; mass unregulated surveillance of Americans is okay.

    Because they can't find the word "privacy" in the Constitution. And because "national security" trumps any and all civil liberties - even though we all know that the executive has used "national security" as a coverup for crimes, both during this administration and previous ones.

    Justices like Scalia say the 9th amendment is unenforceable because it doesn't specify what those unenumerated rights are. "Originalists" seem to think that the founder's original intent was to minimize individual rights, and maximize the power of the executive. The exact opposite was the actual case.

    Powers never granted are routinely upheld - now, the Congress can actually assign its power (and responsibility) to declare war to the president. The right wing is happy with that. Will Congress assign its legislative powers , too? Does anybody care?

    When a government violates the unalienable rights of the people, it loses its legitimacy.

    by Rayk on Fri Jan 18, 2008 at 10:13:12 AM PST

    •  Completely agree (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mother of Zeus

      and it is why I hate this being usurped by the "right-wing". This is far more "socialistic" than universal healthcare. We need to frame these ideas as such, perhaps saying something along the lines of these policies are more reminiscent of the "USSR" (which is true) than they are of the founders.

      "He knows nothing, and thinks that he knows. I neither know nor think that I know. In this latter particular, I seem to have a slight advantage" - Socrates

      by benb on Fri Jan 18, 2008 at 10:19:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, they are VERY "USSR" (0+ / 0-)

        Torture? People held without trials? Unregulated mass surveillance?

        That's absolutely Stalinist.

        When a government violates the unalienable rights of the people, it loses its legitimacy.

        by Rayk on Fri Jan 18, 2008 at 10:29:16 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

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