I’m finding the terms “right-wing” and “left-wing” when describing the  leanings of certain political to be uninformative and outdated. Today’s political parties give their opinions on labour, taxes, military, foreign policy, relationship of church and state, transportation, environment and every other government issue under the sun. Environmental protection has been deemed a “left-wing” policy, but Canada’s Green Party economic stance has been likened to the “right-wing” Conservative party and not the “left-wing” NDP. Terms like “right-wing hawks” talk about a conservative politician that likes to wage war. But didn’t the ultimate “left-wing” government, the communist USSR also like to wage war? I actually like this quote which comes from the wikipedia entry for Left-Right politics.

Doubt about the contemporary relevance of the terms

Some contemporary political positions, such as the position known in the US as libertarianism, have been argued as difficult to characterize in left-right terms. Libertarians may reject both the leftist advocacy of government regulation of the market and the protectionism which may be associated with some on the right, as with paleoconservatives. Arguably, libertarian politics are the most similar to those of the classical liberalism of the old left of 1789; according to an Institute for Humane Studies paper, “the libertarian, or ‘classical liberal,’ perspective is that individual well-being, prosperity, and social harmony are fostered by ‘as much liberty as possible’ and ‘as little government as necessary.’

Many modern thinkers question whether the left-right distinction is even relevant in the 21st century. After all, in most countries left-right appears more a matter of historical contingency and local politics than any coherent statement of principle. After World War II, in order to remain politically relevant, the Western European right embraced most aspects of economic intervention by government (see also Post-war consensus and Butskelism). Similarly, many on the “left” went along with the privatization and anti-communism of the Reagan-Thatcher era.

I just think that in order for a voter to make an informed decision, he/she needs to really look at the entire set of policies for each party. Unfortunately the voter usually does not spend that much time doing that and uses the media’s generalities when making up their mind. So I imagine the terms “left” and “right” will be used for quite a long time.

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