No, this isn’t a political piece…at least not yet. I simply wanted to ask a question. Can you tell the difference between left and right? All my life, I have had trouble with these two directions, going left when I should turn right and vice versa. But my biggest problems arise when I try to turn off a hose, a stove burner, or remove the blades, dripping with some gooey mess, from the stand mixer. The hose and burner are easier to understand because you can really only turn the handle in one direction if its off. I have found, however that after the hose is on I must think twice or I end up soaking David when he shouts from the front yard, “turn it down.” I only undercook or burn the stuff on the stove if I turn the burner the wrong way.
I found a solution, if I can remember it. My granddaughters were very helpful and told me about “righty tighty” and “lefty loosey.” This works with the screws on bird toys, disengaging the mixer blades, the hose, the stove…almost everything. But, it doesn’t describe political parties very well.
Yes, most of the left wants to loosen drug laws, and the part of the right likes them tight. Libertarian Conservatives think anything or almost anything goes. Parts of the right want restrictions on abortion.
But “loose” and “tight” don’t apply to everything. Take regulations on auto emissions. David’s very leftist brother disengaged the device on his car that reduced auto emissions, because he said it lowered his gas mileage. David, who is conservative, but follows the law to the letter left his intact. The brothers were a study in contrasts, and they left me confused.
The professor who taught my grad history class on Western Europe since about 1800 explained that the idea of left and right in politics originates with the French Revolution. Rousseau is often said to be the “brains” behind the left. The left wanted change. As every student of the French Revolution knows, the end wasn’t pretty. The bloodbath during of The Reign of Terror that followed the initial heady days following the fall of the Bastille, led to the execution of anyone suspected of being an enemy. Even some of the aristocrats, like Lafayette, who supported the initial effort had to run for their lives.
Sadly, history is filled with one bloody overthrow of a government after another since those days, the worst in the twentieth century with the Russian Revolution followed by various horrible events perpetrated by the left in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
We read about revolutions and dictators in Eastern Europe in another grad history class. Other than Hitler, who was extremely evil and insane, I am having difficulty identifying right-wing revolutionaries. Plenty of dictators took charge via military coup following an initial left-wing revolution. The worst examples are Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Castro. They weren’t leftists, however, preferring stasis to change.
A lesson I have learned from history is that it is good to have checks and balances. So, although I am voting for Mark Warner, the Democrat Senator running for re-election here in Virginia, whose Republican counterpart says of him, “He knows how to work across the aisle,” the majority of Americans think the country works better with a President from one party and a Congress controlled by the other. We shall see.