One night while tripping over some shitty political commentary program on Fox News, my kid asked me if we lean left or right. At first, I wondered if he might be the next ambidextrous MLB batting champion. Honestly, I wasn’t sure how to answer him for several reasons. First, the word right is an English disaster with at least five meanings that span from directional to correctness to societal abilities. It’s even worse when spoken, because there’s a homonym that makes things even more confusing. Secondly, it’s not a wise parental choice to provide a preconceived notion without allowing a child to express his or her own thoughts and preferences. If I labeled him, he’d most likely be jaded for life, or he may label me as an enemy when he decides to change his mind. Finally, I wasn’t really sure what the fuck a true leftist or rightist was, so I needed to do some homework myself. I told him I’d get back to him.
First, I needed to know where the left and right terms originated. Apparently, the terms left wing and right wing are based on the physical seating arrangements in the French National Assembly. During the French Revolution, politicians who met at the National Assembly began to organise themselves into two groups – supporters of the Revolution, who sat on the left, and supporters of the King, who remained planted on the right. ‘Left’ and ‘right’ was from the perspective of the President.The basic beliefs of each side are still equivalent to those of the parties seated there. Hundreds of years later, these terms have become part of the global political lexicon of silliness, where people on the right don’t necessarily support what’s right, but what they think is right for them right now.
It seems these terms left and right could be divided into corresponding ideologies of liberal and conservative, like Fox News does quite well, but it couldn’t possibly be that simple, could it? Further talk show host isolation moves all democrats to the left, and all republicans to the right, but that’s not entirely true as we’ve seen during the continuing decimation of the party of Trump.
Now I was more confused than ever.
A book published in 1947, The Web Of Government by Robert M. MacIver, explains further: “The right is always the party sector associated with the interests of the upper or dominant classes, the left the sector expressive of the lower economic or social classes, and the centre that of the middle classes. The conservative right has defended entrenched prerogatives, privileges and powers; the left has attacked them. The right has been more favorable to the aristocratic position, to the hierarchy of birth or of wealth; the left has fought for the equalization of advantage or of opportunity, for the claims of the less advantaged.”
Things were beginning to become quite clear.
Although I consider myself quite fortunate, being a first-generation American-born son of immigrants who literally arrived in this fine nation with nothing more than the clothes on their backs, of course I am jaded that my rightist fellow citizens have had the opportunity to engage in building successful relationships with like-minded peers who have had the benefit of several generations of land-owning inheritance. It’s not their fault, and I applaud their advantage. However, one conservative republican rightist comes to mind. Her father received a successful company from his father, and died at a fairly young age, leaving the company to this woman who promptly sold it. She lives in a veritable palace, drives a new Mercedes Benz every year, but has not worked a single day in the past 40 years. Ironically, she and her peers support the party that criticizes leftists for advocating social fairness. She has personally called the unemployed lazy and detrimental, as she stuffed her face with a high calorie meal that contributed to her morbid obesity. Living in a fairly upscale retirement area in Florida, there are countless comparative examples I can cite personally.
For example, there was this confused little man who denied his towing services to a stranded disabled woman because she had a Bernie Sanders bumper sticker.
And this well-spoken right wingnut genius, who looked like he was just there with his boyfriend for the party.
Digging a little deeper, I found many religious people tend to sit on the religious right, firmly believing their particular flavor of God chooses who is entitled to leadership, land ownership, opportunity, and wealth. Considering believing in a Caucasian bearded man who lives on a cloud who moves humans like pawns is akin to mental illness, I began to consider the mental state of conservative Americans. Further, watching Donald Trump’s supporters, who are staunch righties, I became convinced that conservatism is a trait of convenience, as well as racism and baseless hate, all of which I strongly condone as a parent, an American, and a human being. Ironically, Jesus Christ himself was surely quite left, but rightists are very careful to never mention this.
Those of us in my shoes realize it’s not the will to work or succeed that the problem in America – it’s the opportunity that’s missing. Apparently, the conservatives are conserving that opportunity for themselves, and regardless of which side of the President you choose to sit, you must admit that’s not entirely fair. This situation is readily evident when Fox News lambasts Burlington College, once run by Bernie Sanders’ wife Jane, for going out of business, and in the same breath, celebrates American funding Libyan rebels with guns and weapons that will probably end up in terrorists’ hands. Again. And even more painful to watch is the plight of American veterans – those of us who risked life and limb to defend our crooked notion of freedom – as they’re chastised and ignored in ridiculously underfunded government programs. Yet we openly admit we can’t seem to find $80 billion dollars that was supposed to rebuild Iraq. Opportunity abounds – but only for those who can afford it.
Although my parents were registered republicans for reasons I will never know, I began to lean further and further left. So far left, I nearly fell over. The left advocates for freedom from tyranny through protections for everyone provided by a government body. The right is overly concerned with protecting their wealth, using whatever convenient excuse is at their disposal.
Later, I told my boy what I found, but was careful not to verbally admit a side. I can only hope his ethics and conscience will help him make a good choice.