political spectrum

From Anarchopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

A political spectrum is a theoretical object which places political opinions on a continuum. Because they often involve only one dimension, these spectra are often considered inadequate to describe the complexity of a person's opinions. For example, "he's a leftist" is not very descriptive of an individual's viewpoints. Most people have both "left" and "right" opinions on different issues.

However, to describe political and cultural movements, political spectra are sometimes valuable descriptive terminology. Still, these terminologies are only applicable within a specific culture: what is "left-wing" in one country might be "right-wing" in another.

United States[edit]

Within the political culture of the United States, the term "liberal" is usually applied to the pro-market center-left, while "conservative", which accurately applies to the center-right, is applied to them and the right wing. George W. Bush, who is generally considered more right-wing than conservative, described himself as a compassionate conservative in his 2000 campaign. Conservatives, if both the center-right and right-wing are included under this label, are usually considered to outnumber liberals, and there are few socialists in America: they make up less than 5 percent of the population, and are usually found either in the Green Party or the left-wing of the Democratic Party.

Sometimes, in the U.S., the political spectrum is conflated with religious and cultural liberalism and conservatism. This may be because the American right has been successful at using cultural issues to gain support for conservative economic policies among constituencies (usually, within the lower-middle class) that do not benefit from said policies.

A powerful, largely evangelical, religious coalition known as the "Christian Right" exists in America. This group of voters and campaign contributors was a crucial player in the election of George W. Bush. A smaller "Christian Left" also exists. Largely ignored by the media, the Christian Left consists primarily of liberal clergy and academics who argue that, within the standards of his time and culture, Jesus would have been considered a feminist as well as a social radical.