It is almost impossible to talk about politics today without labeling an issue as “left winged” or “right winged.” These terms date back to the French Revolution. The terms refer to the seating arrangements of the 1789 French National Assembly.
Inside the chamber where the assembly met, the Third Estate consisted of peasants, town workers and the bourgeois, and the Second Estate consisted of the Nobles. (Clergy comprised the First Estate.) The Third Estate favored sweeping reforms and sat on the presiding officers’ left side. Noblemen obviously were conservative and sat on the presiding officer’s right side. Thus, the left wing of the room was more liberal, and the right wing was more conservative. In the next few years the revolutionaries of the Third Estate would prevail and countless heads of noblemen would roll.
In English-speaking countries, it was not until the 20th century that the terms “right” and “left” were used to explain political ideologies. Fortunately, even though political issues cause volatile disagreements, heads do not roll today.
The following are issues that almost always are labeled as falling into the left or right wing: abortion, affirmative action, welfare programs, the death penalty and market enterprise. Left-winged or liberal thinkers are pro-choice on abortion, in favor of affirmative action, support almost all welfare programs, against the death penalty and for regulated markets. Conservatives, our right-winged thinkers, are pro-life on abortion, see reverse racism in affirmative action, believe welfare should only be a safety net, support the death penalty, and are all for a free market.
In the U.S., the party that aligns with the left and liberal ideas is the Democrat Party, and the party that aligns with the right and is known as conservative is the Republican Party. If one would swing to the extreme left, one would find Communism, and at the extreme right, one would find Fascism.
“Progressives” and “Tea Party Patriots” are two terms that are in use today. A progressive is classified as being on the left and is what many of the modern-day Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, call themselves. A Tea Party patriot is definitely found on the right and is indeed a conservative.
A progressive is very much an elitist. He has a sense of intellectual enlightenment. An “ivy-league” type of education is desired. Recall how patriot Sarah Palin was maligned because her education was from the University of Idaho. Progressives see themselves as “social engineers” and patriots see themselves as “public servants.”
Progressives believe that the masses cannot understand complex ideas so the government needs to run all things. More regulation is the operative word. They help to create class warfare. Entitlements are seen as rights.
Patriots put great trust in the masses. They see government as too involved in everyday matters. Government should not dictate the kind of flush toilets one must have in his house and certainly should not regulate the kind of light bulbs that are available for purchase. Government must stay out of everyday living.
Progressives see all wealth as belonging to the mighty government. They hold tight to the Keynesian economic theory believing the way to create demand is for the government to infuse money into the economy. Much of money taken out of economy goes into social and green energy projects.
Tea Party patriots try to embrace what they believe the original Tea Party activists deemed important. Tea stands for Taxed Enough Already. They believe in limited government, free enterprise and balanced budgets. Individual liberty and loyalty to the U.S. Constitution are foremost in the Patriot’s mind. They think that these are the principles that made America an exceptional nation.
Progressives believe in separation of church and state. They want all references to God removed from the public arena. Patriots believe the very opposite. If you think that God must not be removed from public life, just as our Founders did, then you just might align with the political “right.”
Tongue in cheek — one sometimes says that “Right” means “Correct,” and points to the Latin term for “Left” — “Sinister”— and suggests that is the behavior of the “Left.” Those of us who embrace the conservative philosophy enjoy these connotations while those who adhere to the left philosophy probably bristle at it.
Ecclesiastes 10:2 says “The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left.” Please, no heads rolling. Eyes are OK. Thanks to the French Revolution using “Right” and “Left” to describe political issues is here to stay.
WILLEE COOPER is a military spouse and former teacher. A Hopkinsville resident, she is president of the Kentucky Federation of Republican Women. Her column runs on the first and third Friday of each month. Reach her at email@example.com.