Like An Old Man Driving With His Blinker On

The whole left-right thing continues to lose meaning as journalists continue to use “right-wing” to mean pretty much any political belief they disagree with. Case in point:

A Hungarian far-right politician urged the government to draw up lists of Jews who pose a “national security risk”, stirring outrage among Jewish leaders who saw echoes of fascist policies that led to the Holocaust.

You see, a German fascist who wants to round up the Jews is right wing. Just like small government types in America:

America’s left-wing Occupy movement and right-wing Tea Party are just two examples of the world’s new wave of activists, a diverse and dispersed collection of movements that also includes Spain’s Indignados (the “Indignant”) and the rebellious youth of the Arab Spring.

The smearing of the term to equate Republicans and Tea Party activists as fascists works. In 2004, I remember a friend whose political leanings differed from mine (and, as I surmise it, is no longer a friend because of it) telling me that George W. Bush was going to round up the Jews. He’s not a dumb guy. But he believes it because the convenient, meaningless journalistic shorthand reinforces it.

This just in: As a Republican, I am not a monarchist.

The political term right-wing originates from the French Revolution, when liberal deputies from the Third Estate generally sat to the left of the president’s chair, a habit which began in the Estates General of 1789. The nobility, members of the Second Estate, generally sat to the right. In the successive legislative assemblies, monarchists who supported the Ancien RĂ©gime were commonly referred to as rightists, because they sat on the right side.

If there’s one political disposition to centralizing authority in a single government leader, it’s not from my branch of the Republican Party.

Republicans need to make it clear that the whole “right-wing” thing is inaccurate and historically ignorant when it’s applied to contemporary politics, and maybe the journalists and commentators will drop it.

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2 thoughts on “Like An Old Man Driving With His Blinker On

  1. That’s right.

    If we follow American conservatism to the extreme, we end up at the Articles of Confederation. Any totalitarian political movement in the United States cannot, by definition, be accurately ascribed to conservatism. There’s no such thing as a totalitarian conservative.

    Do you read Jonah Goldberg? He’s written a lot about this topic.

  2. Conservatism is another label that gets smeared. You can have fiscal “conservatives,” those people who are bound by math and figurin’ who think that the government should not spend so much money; small-government “conservatives” who believe the Federal government has limited authority granted it by the Constitution, and you have social “conservatives” who think the government should serve god like something out of the Old Testament. If you narrow your focus to those Christian evangelical sects in the woods out there that think the government should be godly, you can find someone totalitarian and “conservative.”

    And then, if you’re popular culture, you can take that definition, in the great dictionary of life it’s either definition 10 or 11 or maybe tucked into a see also and try to (and too effectively) make it stick to a whole political party.

    I don’t like the purposefully misleading abuse of the definitions because I’m a Republican (card-carrying; several cards, actually), but I’m a strong military and defense libertarian but realistic individualist who caucuses with the other segments of the Republican Party. And too many people focus on the last bit of it and inject their own stereotypes and prejudices into any discussion to ward off any convincing I can do.

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