What the Right and Left Get Right

What the Right and Left Get Right

As the political parties hold their national conventions beginning next week, it will be tempting for partisans to watch “your side’s” meeting with admiration and the “other side’s” with disdain.

I propose a different approach. When the Republicans gather in Milwaukee July 15-18, please take notice of the substantive messages and principles that sneak through all the rhetoric and cheering, particularly when you agree with those basic messages. Then, do the same when the Democrats get together in Chicago August 15-18. I think you might realize that neither side is completely wrong.

To get you started, below are my pre-convention understandings of beliefs the parties properly hold.

Right is Right

On the “right side” of the political spectrum – represented sometimes by the labels “conservative” or even “Republican” – values being expressed include the following (in no particular order):

  1. America is a great country with traditions and symbols deserving honor and preservation.
  2. Religious freedom is at the core of America’s founding purpose.
  3. A long-lived, successful economic system must limit spending (and taxation) by the federal government.
  4. The free world needs American military leadership and power.
  5. Not all cultural changes are improvements, and they should not be considered as “rights.”
  6. A smaller, limited federal government is a better government. Private enterprise, capitalism, charity, and local governments are more efficient and innovative than is a national government.
  7. Over-taxing the rich and businesses hurts the economy.
  8. God created humans as male or female.
  9. To succeed, America needs successful families.
  10. Creating well-paid, non-government jobs makes America thrive.
  11. The United States should insist that its allies pull their own weight to the fullest extent possible.
  12. Our healthcare system needs reform, but federal control of it is counterproductive.
  13. School choice drives competition and thus improves education.
  14. Joe Biden will be a dreadful president if elected in 2024.

Left is Right

On the “left side” of the political spectrum – represented sometimes by the words “liberal” and “Democrat” – there also are a number of basic beliefs that will come through if you listen openly:

  1. America and its history have embarrassing, harmful flaws that should not be honored.
  2. Religious freedom is for more than Christians.
  3. A country’s vulnerable people require significant government spending, thus taxation.
  4. The free world needs American military leadership and power.
  5. The government should allow cultural changes made in the name of freedom.
  6. There are some important roles that only a federal government can fill.
  7. If necessary and done right, the rich can and will pay more in taxes than they do now, without seriously hurting them or the economy.
  8. The government should not interfere with a person’s decision to adopt a different sexual or gender identity.
  9. Some American families have a better chance of success with government assistance than without.
  10. Creating and protecting well-paid jobs makes America thrive.
  11. America must lead by example in contributing to world initiatives.
  12. Good healthcare is inaccessible or unaffordable for many Americans
  13. Good education is unavailable to many in our country.
  14. Donald Trump will be a dreadful president if elected in 2024.

Aren’t Both Right?

One aim of this post is to point out that there is much general agreement and overlap between the “sides.” Certainly, there is considerably more than partisans in either political party might think.

In reading this, I hope you have had this reaction several times: “Wait, I’m on the other side (left or right) and I agree with that same point.” Or, “Hey, that’s what my side believes.” This is what I’m saying. Often, the only differences in the beliefs of the parties relate to emphasis, extent, or how best to reach common goals.

I numbered the lists above to make it easier for you to comment on one or more points.

Written by Quentin R. Wittrock, founder of Principle Based Politics. 

Look for his posts each week, as this blog will explore and promote the idea of principle in politics, both as to individual elected leaders and our federal government as an institution.

Principle Based Politics does not endorse or support any particular political candidate or party.

  • Quentin
    Posted at 12:23h, 08 July

    R-6 is one of my personal favorites. L-4 (same as R-4) is another. Any that jump out at you either way?

  • Gary Russell
    Posted at 14:28h, 09 July

    Good message, Quentin. Look for the “good” as well as the negative. Apply critical thinking. I like R-3 and R-13 as they remind me of the proper role of (federal) Gov’t. Hard as it would be to pull back on the spending that has ballooned over the last several decades, it would (a) bring down the debt and (b) allow more money in areas defined by the constituion. The states could then do the same.

  • Marsha Chizek
    Posted at 18:15h, 09 July

    Thank you for pointing the way to Less of “us versus them “ mentality. We are all trying to do what is best for our family and the country in which we live in.

  • DKnight
    Posted at 19:44h, 09 July

    Sorry to be preachy or arrogant–but this type of approach is not helpful. This is a binary choice–and Orange Man–with all his bad tweets and insults and faults–is a much better choice. Biden’s brain doesn’t work–it never really did–he has always been substandard. Further, the policy choices are much different between the parties. The GOP is tactically a mess–but their policies are much better than the dems/leftist media. So–there is no equivalency–and it is unproductive and unhealthy to suggest that there is. The GOP has the better policies and the better candidate. Life is not perfect–and both parties leave much to be desired. Yet–the direction to move towards is obvious.

  • Kathy Grussing
    Posted at 19:46h, 09 July

    The sad thing is that the candidates often (not always) stray far from the key principles of their parties. They do what they believe they have to do to win a nomination or an election. That guides some of them far more often than the principles of their party.

    I’ve often felt the key differences between the two major parties could be described by a short illustration of their basic faults. The Republicans sometimes are unwilling to help enough people who need help. The Democrats are sometimes trying to help too many people which is expensive.

  • Dawn
    Posted at 22:51h, 09 July

    We forget that most of these values are not an “either/or” choice, but rather a continuum of personal belief. Do my beliefs tend to line up to one side of center? Sure. Do some cross the line to the other side of center? Of course! Are some all the way to the left AND to the right? Yes, both sides! Seeing value in both sets of principles does not make me disloyal to my own registered party, nor does it make me a Pollyanna. It just makes me a well-formed and complex human being. I am looking for the right PERSON to lead this country and frankly, I am not seeing this in either candidate. Would I vote “off-party” if the right person stepped forward? You betcha!

  • Barb Schramm
    Posted at 15:49h, 10 July

    Thank you for sharing show “your” perception, based on “your”experience, education, and background. Its important to consider things from a different viewpoint… not wrong, but different based on others experience, education, and background. I appreciate the opportunity to share a glimpse of my perception.
    While I could address multiple points, I feel the need to bring attention to an incorrect word you used in L3 to label people like me. Using the word “VULNERABLE” to describe people who have had life experiences that made life extra challenging, is incorrect. We are SURVIVORS. Sometimes we need help to overcome the challenges we face(d), such child abuse, job loss, … the list goes on and on. Providing help in a crisis is a kind thing to do, and we need to fund social service programs like victim services, medical care, job training, etc. If someone hadn’t committed a crime against me, I wouldnt have needed help. I’m am not “vulnerable.” I survived.
    Soapbox time: The best way to decrease the need for assistance is to PREVENT the crisis or crime in the first place. Invest in stopping it BEFORE it happens, and we won’t need as many social service programs. Until then, we need to support programs that help your neighbors in need. It’s the right thing to do.

    • Quentin
      Posted at 12:29h, 11 July

      Hi Barb,

      I appreciate your comment. I must be using the word “vulnerable” in a different way. I am referring to those too young, old, unhealthy, poor, accused, or unpopular to protect themselves. I am not referring to victims after the fact of harm. Those indeed would be survivors.