- Politics and Social Issues
Political Terminology: Left Wing, Right Wing
1789 Assembly at Versailles
Introduction: The French Revolution
Legend has it that the terms “Left Wing” and “Right Wing” originated during the French Revolution. The purpose of the revolution was to change the French government from a monarchy to a republic.
In the assembly of rulers, those who supported the monarch sat to his right, and those who opposed him sat to his left. Thus came about the idea that those who favor change of any government are leftists (liberals), and those who wish to keep their current government became rightists (conservatives).
It is important to keep in mind that "left-wing" and "right-wing" are likely the most wobbly of political designations. The interaction of economic and social issues makes it difficult to distinguish each group distinctively. Any given politician may hold both left and right wing policy stances, but generally one wing will predominate.
A Reversal of Ideologies
As with the terms, liberal and conservative, positions may change over time. In contemporary American politics, the left wing is called the liberal wing, and the right wing is the conservative, a reversal of the situation at the beginning of the United States.
In the United States’ early history, the revolutionaries who ultimately became the Founding Fathers were left-wing and liberal, while those who wished to remain British subjects were the right-wing and conservative.
After the goals of the American Revolution were achieved and the country became an independent republic, the terms conservative, liberal, left-wing, and right-wing began a change.
Yesterday vs Today
Today’s right-wing includes those who wish to keep the republic that the original left-wing liberal Founding Fathers created with the U. S. Constitution. The left-wing seeks to change the government from its Constitutional foundation to a different form, which is moving toward the totalitarian forms, even if a monarchy is not the end goal.
The left-wing interprets the Constitution as a “living” document, claiming that it may be re-interpreted to include whatever policy the left-wing sees as necessary in achieving its goals.
Some left-wing ideologists, for example, that of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and virtually all other members of the Democratic Party, go so far as to hint at the U.S. Constitution's total inadequacy—a stance completely anathema to most thinking Americans.
Generally, today’s left-wing ideologies include statism, liberalism, progressivism, fascism, nazism, socialism, and communism.
Conversely, right-wing ideologies include classical liberalism, constitutionalism, capitalism, republicanism, and individualism.
The Current Democratic and Republican Parties
As we have a seen, "democratic" means people-centered, but because of subtle changes in political speechifying and a gradual usurpation of power, the current Democratic Party is the party of totalitarianism, statism, not the party of individualism and limited centralized power.
The Republican Party more nearly represents the original founding fathers' conception of people- centered freedom, on which the United State of America is based.
The Democratic Party in the United States uses dependency of the poor and minorities to achieve power. Thus, that party has a vested interest in keeping a large number of people poor and dependent on government in order to acquire votes.
Since Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society,” Democrats have consistently pandered to the poor and underprivileged to achieve power and then effected policies that guarantee that populace of dependents grows.
The original definition of left wing vs right wing remains in force, while the actual policies of parties have moved the parties to almost opposite wings of the spectrum.
The Republican Party, once considered “radical" now represents the original ideals of freedom and individual responsibility, while the Democratic Party represents a return to centralized rule, similar to that of a monarchy.
Overview of Left and Right Wing Ideology
© 2017 Linda Sue Grimes