Do We Really See in Shades of Left and Right?

I was prompted to write this topic because of the previous two links. The first goes to a current thread on the board called “Do we cut women more slack than men?” “The New Deal didn’t end the Great Depression, WWII did!” and strangely enough in both cases there’s a lot of “the political right says this” and “the political left says that!” It strikes me as a bit overly simplistic and doesn’t really help anyone to better understand the subject. I’m not really sure this is a real life thing as these boards are the only place where I see conversations degenerate into left vs. right. Do we tend to see issues in left and right instead of black and white?

The people who debate most vociferously do.

No, they don’t.


Presuming I haven’t just wooshed myself…


On the whole, peoples opinions of certain actions are shaded by their political opinions.

If you think that higher government spending doesn’t help the economy, you’re not going to hhink that the new deal brought us out of a depression. If you think that higher government spending can bring a country put fo a depression, you’re more likely to think it did.

I think it’s about the assumptions we draw. Everyone here likes to argue, but almost none of us have ever met so we have to draw assumptions about our opponents mental makeup. For instance if a poster is pro-life its assumed they are Republican, drill-baby-drill, religious, foreign policy hawks. If that assumption is irrelevant to the current debate posters will still save that bit for a gotchya later justified by confirmation bias.

We think in at least 3 dimensions, much less left and right. The 2-dimensional political map as made popular by libertarians a couple years ago is trivially shown to be too simplistic as it doesn’t take into account foreign policy.

Although would I agree with the OP, if you modify the statement to include separate axes for foreign, social, and governmental economic policy.

However, I specifically exclude the matter of government disbursements rather than regulation or taxes, because almost everyone has only one rule: if it benefits me, it’s a worthwhile promotion of the common good, if it benefits some other schmuck, it’s government waste. So I disagree with most people on little tiny bits of how government should spend money, and that doesn’t seem to fall along political lines as much, once you get outside the pale of career politicians.

You can’t really have discussions about broad, general topics, like politics, without generalizing. All generalizations, so they say, are false (i.e., there are almost always exceptions to them), but many are also very useful, to the extent that you cannot get very far without them.

Anyway, I am confident that the Dope’s boards are very far from being the only venue where people make sweeping generalizations about what the political left or right believe.

Is this about that rotating ballerina?

I stared at her, then she switched direction, then my head exploded.

Its sort of a sleezy, or at least lazy, debating tactic in at least some of the threads I see it used in. Rather then saying Joe Doper says X, I can say “the right” says X. And while its pretty easy to show if Joe said X or believes Y (or even if not, at least its a factual assertion that at least is in theory true or false), trying to argue what some vaguely defined, amorphous generalization that consists of a sizable proporiton of the US population has said X is pretty much impossible. Sure, maybe you can find some instance of one person saying it, but then you get to have a long meaningless debate about whether said person is a “represntitive” of the beliefs of your huge, loosely defined, amorphous political generalization.

I’m sure I’ve used them sometimes as well, but I think the terms “left” or “right” and “conservative” and “liberal” should just be avoided. They’re far more likely to turn a conversation into a political pissing match then add any interesting content.