Left, Center, Right: Wrong

As Wild Bill has noted, “Labels Distract–Duh”.

The labels Left, Center, and Right, as applied to an imagined political spectrum, have never seemed more useless and distracting to me than they do now.

An article in the recent Economist, for example, chides President Obama for having gone too far Left and advises him to return to the Center. Presumably, the most Leftist initiative he has pursued is health-care reform, which he more or less began with cutting a deal with large pharmaceutical companies. If alleged “free-market” (another useless label) capitalism is Centrist or Rightist, then Obama did not move Left, even according to the Economist‘s sense of things.

A larger question: Why is an initiative to secure medical insurance for almost all citizens “Leftist”? “Reasonable” and “practical” seem to be better descriptors.

But of course those who like the system as it is (including tens of millions without medical insurance) have a stake in distracting citizens with left-right fakery and inducing Obama and Company to protest their innocence of the Leftist charge. Meanwhile, Democratic Congresspersons who can’t decide what they are, politically, or what they want, legislatively, flail.

Reflexively associating any governmental program (not having to do with the military) with the Left seems a) to be silly and b) still to work on most people. Associating doing nothing about health-care reform (for instance) with a Rightist philosophy seems equally silly. I should think “irresponsible” or “lazy” would work better. And finally, associating “Center” with anything seems like a tired old magician’s trick.

What, pray tell, is the political “center” in the U.S. and what are its attributes? I think it’s a pole, and I think it supports a tent, which covers the circus, in which Left and Right are used to prod voters to do tricks. We must call PETA–or PETV: People for the Ethical Treatment of Voters. Release them from the circus! It’s too cruel!

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