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In recent years Americans have become increasingly vexed by the fierce polarization dividing the country. This division is taking root in the culture, sharply distinguishing “conservative” from “liberal” voices. Discussion rages on such issues as immigration, gun control, school choice, free speech, and access to abortion. Contentions in the cultural sphere drive a “right wing versus left wing” stand-off affecting a vast array of institutions and governmental processes.

But the convictions of most citizens do not align clearly with only one side — conservative or liberal, right or left. Instead, most perceive potentially viable ideas articulated from both points of view, while social consensus continues to perceive radical prescriptions from either extreme as toxic to the nation’s future.

Is it possible for a new, elevated perspective to emerge out of the left-right dichotomy? Do we agree on more than we want to admit? Has our democracy reached a level of maturity where we are willing to consider higher, more universal values?

Is there perhaps a framework that would allow us to synthesize the best ideas from both sides and fashion a new way forward?
How might such a framework facilitate a fresh look at today’s most troublesome issues — the Second Amendment, racism, border security, refugee policy; policing?
What might be the underlying philosophy and basic principles characterizing such a new perspective? 

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David Burton
David Burton
1 month ago

In Unificationism we tend to regard the political right as Abel and the political left as Cain. We trace this to the thieves on the right and left at Jesus’ crucifixion. However in 2004 Rev. Moon declared the end of restoration, which means the end of the Cain-Abel dynamic in history. In turn this also implies the end of right and left wing politics. I would suggest that what remains is not about left and right, but rather is about establishing the correct order of dual purposes as described in Divine Principle. That this is the task and meaning of “Headwing.” Currently one side emphasizes individual purpose and the other whole purpose. Forcing individual purpose in subject position is wrong, just as is forcing whole purpose at the expense of individual purpose. The current crop of authoritarian regimes on both sides typify the problem, and emphasizing the traditional stances of… Read more »

Cliff Gaines
Cliff Gaines
1 month ago

What is missing from America’s politics and government today, is a well developed moral center, that represents the vast majority of its citizenry. Currently, we are pulled in one direction that is either too far left, or too far right. Furthermore, the media and political action committees only exacerbate and exploit these two extremes. They set the tone and the agendas that guide our political actions, rendering us increasingly more polarized with each new election. However, if a plane’s wings tilt too far right, or too far left, it will not reach it’s destination and will eventually crash. Ironically, we are equally as divided today over some of the same issues that divided us over 153 years ago, in 1858 when our 1st Republican President Lincoln so eloquently stated;” A house divided against itself cannot stand and shall perish, and fall from the Earth…” Let us remember these words and… Read more »

Robert Beebe
Robert Beebe
1 month ago

A great many Americans are not neatly divided into left or right wing spheres. At our school in New Jersey we have a variety of family backgrounds almost evenly divided among black, white, Hispanic, and Asian. We surely have disagreements on many of the issues you have mentioned, Henri. But there are definitely common values that hold us all together: the common desire to love and be loved, concern for the future generation and leaving a hopeful future for them, desire for peace and safety, among others. The problem is the media, social media especially, elevates the most extreme elements of our culture. They are the ones who we here from the most. More moderate and nuanced voices are getting drowned out all the time. Until this changes, I do not see things improving very much. The key is to work on a deeper level to change the culture itself.… Read more »

Sunder Willett
Sunder Willett
1 month ago

But going back to the idea of a left-right dichotomy, I think the major problem is that “left” and “right” simply exist as shorthands for whatever people what them to mean. For some people “left” = communist while for others “right” = fascist or authoritarian. It becomes easy to put down opponents from “the other side” when “the other side” looks however we define it rather than an agreed upon definition. I recently finished listening to a history of the French Revolution where the original left-right terms were coined because, when the second assembly was convened (in 1792?) the republican revolutionaries sat with each other on the left and the conservative nobility, clergy, and wealthy landowners sat with each other on the right. In the French Revolution, left-right had more to do with overthrowing the existing elite power structures vs preserving the existing power structures. There was no sense of… Read more »

Sunder Willett
Sunder Willett
1 month ago

politicalcompass.org makes an interesting attempt to address this problem. Instead of a 1 dimensional left-right spectrum, they create a 2 dimensional plot, the x-axis is economical, fully planned economy vs fully unregulated economy while the y-axis is governmental, anarchism vs authoritarianism.

Chris Noble
Chris Noble
1 month ago

Thinking in terms of “Right” and “Left” assumes that people are one-dimensional, each of them somewhere along that axis. I am very much a socialist economically (to the “Left” even of Bernie Sanders), but I would be considered to be on the “Right” socially: in favor of individual rights and against identity politics. Concerning the moderator’s questions, a useful “framework” requires us I think to move past this mentality of a one-dimensional “Left” vs. “Right” with which we pigeon-hole others and limit our own thinking.

James Edgerly
James Edgerly
Admin
Reply to  Henri Schauffler
1 month ago

Okay Henri – Let’s look into this, or perhaps make it a new Conversaton Starter? That would be my preference. I will consult with the editor for this “Content Category”.

Chris Noble
Chris Noble
Reply to  Henri Schauffler
1 month ago

I think as a rule that editing a previous posting after the conversation has started may not be useful for later readers to pick up the ebb and flow.

Ronald K
Ronald K
1 month ago

You are right on target but where can a person find such an enlightened perspective in today’s profit-driven media?

Kate Tsubata
Kate Tsubata
1 month ago

True statesmen and patriots align to values that will stand the test of time, and can be applied universally. Freedom, peace, honor, love, compassion–these never go out of style, and they are beyond politics. I feel these are “kingdom-building” values, not political and partisan in nature.

Rob Sayre
Rob Sayre
4 months ago

One way to consider this left-right issue is to consider how policies are made, considered and decided. I propose three principles; first is where it is most effective to consider and make decisions. Second is how can we make them more efficient and third how can we handle ethical issues. Let me provide a few examples. First is national defense. The most effective place to discuss and make decisions is on the national level. How to make the more effective and possibly cost efficient is critical. Are we willing to pay higher and higher costs? Do we allow these rising costs, even when we know they are not efficient to continue? And last, there certainly are ethical issues to consider. Are national decision makes influenced by corporate campaign contributions? The same can be said about interstate roads, ports and airports. What about health care? Do we want a true free… Read more »

Rob Sayre
Rob Sayre
Reply to  Henri Schauffler
4 months ago

I think the God/No God assertion leads no where in terms of public policy. Will there ever be a world wide consensus about this? I do not think so. And the issue of Marxist thought I think is best counted by what small business people do every day. They define markets, deliver goods and/or services and grow wealth that way. I have little interest in trying to help people see the world the way I do. I have a lot of interest in helping foster the discussion and arguments to the proper place; Effective and then talk about efficient and ethical considerations. There are no easy answers, but asking good questions, is more important than trying force consensus or an ideological or religious viewpoint on all.

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