On Political “Right” and “Left” and the Nationalization of Everything

Updated: October 22, 2013


By RU Twisted

I’ve written a lot here at The Rhino Den on political issues. Most of them are hot-button topics like gun control, education, and which elected official is the biggest Douche of the Week. But I have neglected to cover some of the theory behind all of those and address why any of it matters.

As an example, most of what we hear in political discourse today revolves around “Right vs. Left.” Yet these are not in any way agreed upon terms. For the vast majority of the population, “Right” is equated to “Republican” and “Left” is synonymous with “Democrat.” Or, in an even more main-stream sense, Fox News vs. CNN.

But this generalization furthers nothing and essentially only hinders any kind of logical debate on important issues. If an issue is presented by one camp of ideologues, those who ascribe to the opposing views dismiss their proposal out of hand simply by nature of association. If someone belongs to “the other,” then they are automatically wrong.

This is, of course, absurd; all the more so when we consider a few real world examples. For instance, Rep. Peter King (R-NY), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) all belong to the same political party. Yet five minutes of Google-fu will prove how incredibly different these men are from one another on fairly fundamental principles of government. Similarly, people such as Sen. John Tester (D-MT) and Rep. John Conyers both call the Democratic Party home and house wildly divergent viewpoints on representing the people of this country.

Even less helpful is the continued association of a certain political bent with a particular news outlet. Calling Fox News “on the right” or CNN and MSNBC “on the left” makes about as much sense as Sandra Bullock still having a career. Yes, Chis Matthews is a raging liberal; yes, Sean Hannity is a Republican shill. Guess what? No one deeply involved in the political game takes any of those people seriously—so why should the public care what they say?

24-hour news stations need their own party—it should be called “Sensationalism.” Their platforms will consist of anything and everything that grabs headlines as well as turning really boring stories into exciting ones by using inflammatory language, hyperbole, and flashy graphics while blatantly inciting their fan base (that being the proper term for anyone who would get worked up over what a few talking heads would shout about on either side of a debate).

We have a significant number of people in this country allowing their blood pressure to rise over issues that are made far more complicated than they need to be simply because a couple people in Washington with (R) and (D) following their names are debating them. These arguments become far worse when a media, hell-bent on garnering ratings for advertising, gets involved. By demonizing certain terms and increasing the viral nature of others, the core of most discussions is lost by the time they hit the airwaves.

democrat-republicanIf you believe that I am headed in the direction of advocating for a third party, stop—that’s a topic for another time and a whole separate can of worms.

What I am writing on here is the simple understanding of terminology and why it matters. We live in a time when “Republican” and “Conservative” have become synonymous, “Liberal” and “Democrat” are interchangeable, and “Libertarian” and “anarchist” are ignorantly substituted one for another. As such, many of our current debates are wrapped up in party politics that get carried away by using jargon that may work on a show hosted by Bill O’Reilly or Rachel Maddow but is frankly beneath us and should remain so.

Republican and Conservative are not the same and this should be understood. So it is with the title of Liberal or Progressive and Democrat. Some of these are world views and others are political parties.

The normal debates in our country, then, are less about Republican vs. Democrat and more about some very basic ideologies which often fall outside the realm of both groups. In our modern era, most arguments truly boil down to the topic of whether one is for more government intervention into a problem or less. Unfortunately, as mentioned above, this becomes convoluted upon labels being ignorantly thrown about as soon as an ideology is presented. “You’re wrong because you are with the party of _____!!! “ (insert baby killers, old people haters, unicorn lovers, etc.).

Regardless of where your affinities lie, I encourage every one of you to take an honest look at the ideology behind each and every supposed hot-button issue and follow it through to its inevitable conclusion. We live in a time where significant numbers of politicians and their constituents would like to see nearly every issue nationalized and brought under federal control. In some cases, this may very well be a good thing; in others it is decidedly not. The point is that we are moving in that very direction and staying educated on why something is a good or bad idea is invaluable—in other words, turning Sean Hannity off and doing some serious homework is going to be required.

Our country did not start out with the idea that a strong national presence should be felt at every level of our lives, but that may not matter because it is where we are headed. Simply shouting that the founding fathers wouldn’t have wanted something a certain way is not enough and labeling an idea wrong because it belongs to a different political party is equally inadequate.

Election season is just around the corner. Before it arrives, become educated on the important issues, the terminology used, and why it matters. Like it or not, the government is growing. Make sure you know the how and why of that change.




  1. Ann

    October 22, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    …Good article. The problem today I believe IS the media. There is so much out there and with that a lot of misinformation. It IS mostly slanted, like CNN, FOX, twisted, etc… and just plain inaccurate at times. Fox News was sued successfully (in part) for violating FCC’s “news distortion” policy. They appealed and case was overturned because according to Fox, FCC’s policy was just that…a policy and not a regulation. Fox News admitted they lied…their defense was that they broke no regulation. It’s important to use a good source for information. I do take issue with….”Even less helpful is the continued association of a certain political bent with a particular news outlet. Calling Fox News “on the right” or CNN and MSNBC “on the left” makes about as much sense as Sandra Bullock still having a career…” What’s wrong with Sandra Bullock? Is this an age/gender thing? You HAD to go there? But on the serious side….I know A LOT of folks who get all their “news” from either one of those “news outlets.” And I would bet you a Chianti, there are many many folks who get ALL their news from “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report…” no kidding. I receive emails at work with total bullshit news (propaganda) about a certain political figure doing something ludicrous…I read it and KNOW it’s bull but it is being forwarded around as “news.” So, yes educate yourself….there are way too many politically uneducated folks with strong political opinions. Perfect example was the survey, “Obamacare v. ACA Which is better?” Remember that? I was cringing at some of the responses from average folk who definitely had an opinion. Another example of sensationalism, not just “news” stations but….Congresswoman Michelle Bachman’s speech (IN DA HOUSE no less) stating, “Let’s repeal this failure before it LITERALLY KILLs women, KILLS children, KILLS senior citizens…” Really Michelle…literally…such a drama queen AND… SOMEBODY GET THE NET…PUH LEEEEEZE! Not to mention we DO have a number of idiot elected officials… Rep Hank Johnson who, during a House Armed Services Committee hearing spoke his concerns about the possibility that Guam would tip over if “we” put too many (military) personnel/equipment on the island. WTF? Where did Georgia get this guy? There are still some good news broadcasts out there… I would recommend PBS’ “News Hour” with Jim Lehrer. It is ONLY an hour but that’s all me Da watched and he was pretty well informed.

  2. Paul C.

    October 22, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    The media in America is out of control when it comes to politics and I know you understand the various sociolegal forces that make it so.

    One thing I think it misses is that the US style of government is unique positioned to have this conflation of Republican with Conservative and vice versa. Because of the legacy of the British Empire the Westminister parliamentary system abounds and with those governments (UK, Australia and Canada) and what the system allows for is the viable existences of multiple parties. So in those nations you have much less of a dichotomy of right and left. We still all know relatively on the political spectrum where parties fall but by nature the system allows for more nuance.

    I think the issue of nationalization is interesting in the US. The irony is that although it feels in the US that more and more is being nationalized, every study of politics and policy indicates that while jurisdictions of services may be shifting, more and more government is actually being privatized and even where the government maintains management of a service more and more of it contracted out and delivered by alternative methods.

    Also I would argue that you can’t detangle issues of nationalization from media. We have more media coverage than ever of politics and while the average person may know less accurate information, they have more opinions. So the question is whether more is being nationalized or whether we are reporting more on this than ever before?

  3. Jim Davis

    October 22, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    Media sensationalism is nothing new. Just look up “yellow journalism” on Google.

    My former father-in-law was a newsman all his working life, and he told me, back when he was editor of the New York Post, that the motto was “If it bleeds, it leads.”

    The difference now is that we’re force-fed it 24/7, and seldom take the time or opportunity to -think- about our reactions to various stories. You have talking heads from all sides trying to tell you how to think, and thinking for yourself can get you ostracized from your social groups.

    I fear it’s all going to come crashing down as economies all over the world, which are interrelated in astonishing ways, finally realize there are only so many poor nations to exploit, and so many ways to get around environmental damage responsibility, and so many ways to hide income to avoid taxes.

    The Chinese machine is breaking down — people are getting out of the factory cities and going back to their villages. The pollution is so bad, one city, Harbin, had to essentially shut down for several days. So other manufacturers have moved operations to even poorer countries eager for a little baksheesh.

    WHEN we realize that, as a nation, we can no longer rely on some of these offshore capabilities, it is my hope we’ll bring some of the manufacturing home, and stimulate OUR economy.

    Paul C., you hit it on the nose with the privatization of government. Whether it’s the prison systems or the intelligence services, we’ve given far too much over to groups that want to gouge the taxpayers. Just look at the deal that Congress gave “Big Pharma” with Medicare Part D. Medicare canNOT negotiate medication prices. The VA does, and gets much better results, thank you.

    “Us vs. Them” has existed since the dawn of time, and the growth of this nation has encouraged the various “tribalism” of the industrial and financial sectors, the “warfare” between rich and poor, and even the break between military and civilian. (That one, at least, is somewhat better than it used to be, but civilians still don’t really understand PTSD — that’s a topic of frequent discussion in the therapy group I’m in.)

    We need to come together as a PEOPLE, and understand that if we don’t hang together . . . well, you know the rest.

  4. Trysta Schwenker

    October 22, 2013 at 11:08 pm

    The thing is few people are willing to read anymore. When you read an article, you make certain decisions for yourself, and when you read articles from more than one source you get a better, more complete picture to help determine your own position. A person needs to take charge of their own info management and be responsible for finding out as much as possible about the news and their government. I am afraid that is wishful thinking on my part.

  5. leftoftheboom

    October 23, 2013 at 9:54 am

    The Media organization of the world is out to make money. Nothing more, nothing less. And just like a drug dealer, they feed a desire. The limited number of actual controlling interests in the media makes the necessity for the sale more ferocious. Just like cola, there are hundreds of soft drinks but they are all actually made by only a few companies who are trying to dominate the market share.

    The problem is the desire for entertainment. The travesty of out of proportion extravagance and as stated “sensationalism” is there because the People want them there. Let’s face it, cars on the road slow down to look at the accident across the way, people see police lights and go see what is going on even if it could be dangerous or more correctly because it is dangerous, people perform life threatening stunts to seek digital immortality. I am coming to the unfortunate conclusion that some of these school shooters and others are doing it just to scream at the world “remember me” because they feel obscure in a world that rewards notice. Which makes putting the Boston bomber on the cover of a magazine even more ignorant from the point of view of “fame murder” if I may create a meme (unless someone already did) but the media giant that authorized it got confirmed notice in the public. They were the talk of the town and that is exactly why they did it. A company has to be visible in the marketplace. In today’s market, is it difficult to define negative visibility since they can spin anything.

    Think about it. Currently there are several people who are now rich and famous because of YouTube videos that got them notice. Artists try and shock the world with their antics because good acting or a good song is just not enough anymore. Like someone hooked on crack, it takes more blitz, pizzazz, and over the top performance to attract attention.

    I remember the movie “The Last Boy Scout” and the football player that pulled a gun, on the field, and shot the defenders so he could score a touchdown. I am waiting for that moment to happen in real life because I can see it coming in this fame obsessed train wreck of an amoral society we have. Killing people is less about something that actually happened before the incident and is merging into the fame or infamy that occurs afterwards. How many “tragic” figures go on to book and movie deals once the media gets their story out? Personally, I would prefer to keep my private life and pain as my business and not for public consumption but every single day there is someone new, in the media spotlight, parading their tragic tale for more digital fame.

    The situation is pathetic. But don’t you dare try and point that out because the majority wants their pathetic spender and telling them they are wrong is good for getting you in trouble. It is okay to demonize a smoker for smoking but don’t you dare demonize a fat person for eating. Similarly, the media did not create this mess entirely, they found the market and the desire and they fed it. Now it must continue to be fed and nothing short of a solar flare is going to stop it.

    I vote for the flare.

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