Excellent analysis, Rocket Man. I would also like to comment on your blog from yesterday about “right-wing American Jews.” This may sound picky, but I much prefer being described as a Jewish conservative. The dichotomy between the “right” and the “left” comes from European politics and applying it here isn’t particularly helpful except to those who want to diminish American conservatives. In Europe, “right-wing” connotes a statist and somewhat authoritarian philosophy to which anti-Semitism is often attached (although nowadays such sentiment is far more prevalent within the European left). This philosophy has nothing to do with the main strand of American conservatism, with its strong optimism and libertarian tendencies. Instead, the fundamental divide in our politics is best captured by the terms “liberal” and “conservative.” This, of course, is how the divide traditionally has been described, although the terms “right” and “left” have also been present in our politics.
I believe that the attempt to re-characterize the debate as between the “right” and the “left” is really part of a marketing strategy used by liberals to make up lost ground. During the 1990s, polling showed that the electorate viewed liberals (the “L” word) negatively. This was not due to the word itself (which has a solid pedigree) but rather to the failed policies of liberalism as practiced in the 1960s and 1970s, and to liberal opposition to the successful and popular conservative policies of the 1980s. Liberals needed new jargon, and they found it in the European concept of the “right-wing.” The media has had a field day with this. For example, we often read of the “right-wing” element within the Supreme Court, which is usually contrasted to the “moderate” Justices on the other side. You will almost never hear any American political figure described by the mainstream media as belonging the left wing. This is another sign that the “right-left” dichotomy is a phoney one.
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