I often participate in a discussion group where someone recently asked, “Is America center-right or center-left?” It got me to thinking about labels, and how they’ve been twisted, distorted and co-opted. Many respondents criticized the use of such labels, arguing that human character is far too complex to divide into black and white categories.
I felt compelled to weigh in, and I’ll share my answer with the rest of the class:
As I can see from previous answers, trying to use labels like “left,” “right,” “liberal,” “conservative,” etc. is too simplistic, and each label carries a certain amount of baggage that it doesn’t deserve.
I abhor environmental waste, the way that our culture frivolously destroys resources that may take millions of years to replace. By the same token, I don’t think we should be frivolous with money either. I would think that those are both “conservative” positions.
I also feel that we should treat one another with respect and dignity, that we have a duty as responsible community members to look out for each other and help each other out in times of need, and that if someone else’s lifestyle choices are no harm to me then they’re none of my business. When did any of this stop being a “conservative” position?
I think much of the American public falls in line with my “conservative” positions, but the politicians and pundits who talk this way are labelled “liberal” or “radical.” Many authors have pointed out studies and polls indicating that if politicians pursued policies that the public wants, the USA would be much more like Sweden.