Monday, February 23, 2015

Right or Left Mk II

Expanding more on my political theory, I received a couple apt comments, both regarding the moral flexibility of those on the Left.  Now, being that they were not particularly generous, I'll leave them off (if you're into that stuff, they're not hard to find) but they do bring up a point.  The political Left is ostensibly interested in equality of outcome- that is, at the end of the day, everyone has basically the same or reasonable similar quality of life. After all, this is the proper goal of Communism, is it not? The Right, on the opposing hand, is similarly built on equality of opportunity- if everyone has the same opportunities, then the fact that some end up with more and some with less is not seen as inequality, it is seen as compensation for their particular talent, or business acumen, etc etc.

This is a point that is, I think, valid, but it is parallel in some respects to mine.  For one, my theory is more to the mindset of the Left and the Right, rather than the political realities.  What I intend to explore is the mindset of the people at the ground level who identify with either side of the most common political spectrum. In some ways, what I am suggesting is less about Left Aisle vs Right Aisle, and more about Left Brain vs Right Brain.

I'm not going to go into any psychological or physiological discussions, because I'm not prepared to make myself readily knowledgeable to discuss them.  However, the comparison is something we are all familiar with- people who are on one side are math and precision oriented, people on the other are art and culture oriented.  Which is which is not germane to our discussion, and actually runs opposite of what side of the political discussion one falls, so we'll leave that discussion for another day, to prevent confusion.

The Political Left, as we discussed previously, is largely preoccupied with the quality of the individual in the position of power.  This can be seen in the tendency of the Left towards a Cult of Personality, and in the prevalence of ad hominem commentary in political debate.  This plays directly into the idea of prosecutorial discretion- when one can assure the quality of the person elected to a position, one can rely on their expertise and their judgement to apply the law in a way that assures the best possible outcome. It would not be unfair to assume that their biggest fear is that the wrong person will be in charge, and make the wrong decisions.  They are inclined to extend enormous amounts of power to the ruling authority, which they then must protect at all costs.  It is unsurprising, then, that the Left tends to judge politics on quality of character- as long as the person in question is of sound moral judgement (at least in their eyes) then previous errors or thin resumes are not a stumbling block, but a learning experience.  It is ok to be wrong, as long as you are a good person.  The reverse of this is that there is also a tendency towards character assassination in elections.  George W Bush is widely regarded as a figure of low intelligence, caricatured as a fool, and attacked for his not-infrequent spoken gaffes, while other political figures such as John Kerry and Joe Biden, who are absolutely as prone or more to similar statements, are vigorously defended.  This does not represent a cognitive disconnect, because the person is not being attacked or defended because of those actual qualities- the qualities attacked are simply a tool to attack the person.  The tool itself is actually irrelevant.  In myriad ways, that sums up the arguments of the Left.  Laws and details are tools, intended to be used by intelligent and reliable leaders, to properly lead and administer the country.  If the rules are unnecessarily strict on their face, this isn't a problem, because a wise leader will know when to refrain from applying them.

The Political Right, by comparison, is preoccupied largely with the Rules themselves.  Rules must be obeyed with dire consequences.  It is important to note here that this does not apply merely to political rules or the Rule of Law.  It also applies to religious law, as well.  The Right has a vested interest in defending the Rules, no matter what they may be.  Don't like a Rule? There's a Rule in place on how to change it.  Until then it must be applied evenly.  An example of this can be seen in the Right's tendency to encourage strict adherence to written laws such as the Bible, the Constitution, and similar.  During election cycles, the Right tends to focus on arguments that cite their opponent's record, their past transgressions, and their failure to live up to their chosen Standards.  Because the Right assumes that all rules are absolute, their goal is to write them as specifically as possible, generally referring to previous rules as much as they can.  It would be fair to say that the worst nightmare of the political Right is that the person in a position of authority will pass the wrong rules, especially rules that contradict other rules.  Contradictory rules are anathema to the Right, because all rules must be followed at all times- if two rules contradict each other, and therefore cannot be followed, then the situation requires immediate justification, either through new rules, the repeal of the less important (importance being, of course, laid out according to the rules) rule, or possibly the expungement of the offending system of rules (the logic here being that the presence of one offending rule is indicative of the whole system being corrupt and/or at odds to the preferred system of rules).  Did I use the word Rule enough in that paragraph? I did that on purpose. Rules Rules Rules.  That's what drives the Right.  Whereas the Left encourages the proliferation of laws as Tools to be used by the right person, the tool itself being rather irrelevant beyond its usefulness, such an approach is untenable to the Right.  The Right seeks to write the rules in a specific enough manner that the person in office is immaterial- after all, they are only there to faithfully execute the rules.

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