• Wednesday, Oct 21, 2020
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OP-ED: Politicians and the political spectrum

  • Published at 09:25 pm July 3rd, 2020
Joe Biden barack obama

Where on the spectrum do our political figures really lie?

What I have often found during political discussions is the fact that people often mislabel their favourite politicians as belonging to a certain group within the political spectrum when, really, they belong somewhere else.

To help you better understand where your favourite politicians may lie, here, I take you, the reader, across every single broad category within the spectrum, and demonstrate how you would typically act had you actually belonged to any of these specific categories.

The far left

You are basically Mao. You want complete public control over the means of production.

In your ideal country, there is no room for private enterprise, private ownership of capital, private exchange of goods and services, or the freedom of religion. In your ideal world, goods and services will be distributed to the public on the basis of their needs, not their wants.

You believe in an atheistic society. To you, religion is the opium of the people. To implement these policies, you need authoritarian rule over your subjects and you don’t mind stifling civil liberties to reach that end. You see violent revolution as an inevitable first step towards your utopian society.

In the modern world, it is hard to find examples of politicians with this exact world view; however, the Cuban and the North Korean governments come very close. 

The moderate left

You are basically a true socialist. While one can own property, there is still no room for private enterprise in your ideal world. The means of production are still controlled by the public sector.

You are more moderate when it comes to the freedom of religion and violent revolutions. Your world view is still secular. You don’t mind using democracy to reach your political goals.

However, once you’re in power, you’re likely to use authoritarian means to implement some of your policies. But you do believe in universal access to basic necessities.

Again, it’s really hard to find examples of a purely socialist country, but there are many historical examples that come close. Examples include Bangladesh in the early 1970s.

The religious left

As a Bangladeshi, I couldn’t have made this post without including this category. Economically, most Bengalis are left-leaning when it comes to their world view, whether or not they realize it.

It’s possible that a lot of people among us will deny this especially because, in Bangladesh, we automatically associate the left with atheism. But, in reality, most Bengalis believe in economically left wing policies.

They want free healthcare; free public schools, colleges, and universities; they want price controls when it comes to CNG fares; government stipulated minimum wages, etc. You can argue all day about whether or not these policies are effective, but you cannot argue about whether or not these policies are leftist policies. They 100% are.

However, as a religious lefty, you have the same social values of the right. You believe in heavy government intervention when it comes to people’s social lives. If you are a more hardcore adherent of this lane, then you probably even want to see a theocratic government come to power.

A lot of Middle Eastern countries have historically been very good examples of this kind of governance.

The center left

This is where social democracy truly begins. You believe in a democratic society with private enterprise, private ownership of property, freedom of religion, secularism, social liberty, and separation of church and state.

However, you also believe in equal opportunity. You believe in using capitalism’s wealth to provide a vast social safety net for every single one of your residents. 

Although you do believe in free enterprise, you’re not a hardcore capitalist, you believe in rent control, minimum wage, etc.

You believe in the universality of all basic necessities, including healthcare and education. You believe in workers’ rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and minority rights. You are very immigrant-friendly.

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin and US Senator Bernie Sanders can both be considered center-left politicians.

The center

You are basically a neoliberal. You are more concerned with optics than you are with actual systemic policy level changes. This is where the Justin Trudeaus, the Clintons, and the Pete Buttigiegs of the world lie.

You will participate in pride marches wearing a rainbow-coloured bandana, but won’t fight against your corporate donors for gay workers’ rights. 

You will make sure that your cabinet is half women, but won’t fight with your corporate donors to close the gender pay gap.

You will take a bicycle to office, but won’t do anything to fight the fossil fuel companies that donated millions of dollars to your campaign. Despite being the leader of a Christian majority country, you will wish your Muslim citizens Ramadan kareem, but you won’t do anything about the Israeli oppression of Palestine.

You believe in such centrism that you don’t believe in anything. You will say and do whatever it takes to win votes and, when in power, you will work for your corporate donors.

During elections, you’ll say vague things which sound nice on the surface, but don’t really mean anything. They aren’t substantive at the policy level.

You are more into woke virtue-signalling and identity politics than you are into any real structural or systemic change. Socially and religiously, you are very liberal.

The center right

Although, socially, you are not as liberal as your centrist counterparts, you are still not a conservative. You can be best described as a conservative-leaning moderate.

Whatever socially progressive bills have already been passed, you support. The ones that are in discussion, you oppose. You are usually on the wrong side of history, but once it’s clear, you apologize for your stance.

Economically, you are pro-small government. You are for low taxes and a very small social safety net. However, you are not as obsessed with a balanced budget as your more right-leaning colleagues.

You are not into woke virtue signalling and identity politics, and you are quite unapologetic about it. The presumptive democratic nominee for the 2020 US Presidential Election, Joe Biden, can be put into this category.

The moderate right

You are basically a hardcore Republican. You are both fiscally and socially conservative. One of your main goals is a balanced budget and you believe everyone should work harder to pay for their own cancer treatment.

Your social decisions are religiously motivated to a great degree and you believe in government intervention when it comes to the individual lives of your citizens, but not when it comes to businesses.

You believe the government shouldn’t have to pay for free healthcare or free education. Former US President George W Bush can be classified as a moderate right-winger.

The secular right

Just like there is a religious left, there is a secular right. These are the Andrew Yangs and the libertarians of the world.

If you are one, you believe in secularism, freedom of religion, and all sorts of social rights. As such, you don’t care about people’s individual business.

However, just like your Republican counterparts, you are concerned about balancing the budget. You think that private enterprise should provide for healthcare and health insurance, and that a small government is the best government. Both economically and socially.

The far right

You are Hitler. Although your party is called The National Socialist Workers’ Party, there is nothing socialist about you. You are driven by nationalism and xenophobia.

Socially, you are extremely conservative and authoritarian. You believe in a police state with little to no civil liberty. You heavily spy on your own citizens using surveillance technology.

You use the media as a propaganda wing of your political party, and you restrict free speech. You allow private enterprise and private trade. However, there is little to no social safety net.

Shams Ishtiaque Rahman is a freelance contributor.

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