Monday, January 5, 2009

The Far Left, the Far Right and a Political Mobius Strip

I like how blogging forces me to see if there are others out there who think the way I do so that I do not recreate a blog post. Given my constant distractions, I would rather link to a much more articulately written post with which I agree than craft it myself. I would appreciate others to let me know of other posts bringing the Left and Right together, in my searches I haven't found quite what I had in mind.

I have been bothered by the political spectrum lately. How the spectrum is described in our media and how our politicians cater to certain segments. I had not looked for alternatives to our the standard Left-Right linear spectrum until today.

I was very excited to find The Political Compass. It provides a great visual to the kind of thing I am describing. At one point during my brainstorming about this topic, I had come up with Political Venn Diagrams but got lost listing just how many circles might need to intersect to find the ideal government. The Compass is great and I hope it can help a lot of people from seemingly different perspectives see where they do agree.

Before I found the Compass, I had come to the conclusion that the normal political spectrum looked more like a mobius strip. The farther to either side you walk, sooner or later you have found yourself walking with people that walked from the other direction. The Compass has edges. I like the idea that sometimes you are walking next to someone that may be on the other side of the Compass from you. For instance, I know a very liberal man who is very authoritarian when it comes to the death penalty. The more we recognize outliers to any of these political spectra, the more we can be aware of how often people who often could work together get played against each other.

Here I want to list a few of the ways the far left and right have similar interests, but I would love to hear what is the first thing that comes to your mind if it isn't listed here. I think the theme for many of these crossovers is that "less government" is not necessarily a Republican virtue anymore (if it ever was). It just depends what *kind* of government we are discussing.
  • Homeschooling and its laws. For instance, in the state of Virginia, a parent who has a college degree has fewer requirements to fill than a parent without the degree. I have heard this is under debate. Homeschoolers span the political spectrum, despite being stereotyped as something of the Far Right in years past.
  • Midwifery and homebirth access. I was stunned to learn a few years ago that often the biggest friends to these issues are Republicans. Meanwhile, most of the families I know choosing midwives in my area voted blue this fall.
  • Anti-Bedsharing/cosleeping education. Publically funded outreach to discourage parents from bringing their babies to bed with them. Spending tax-payer money to make a mother feel bad for sleeping with her young like any other mammal. The latest Mothering issue did a fantastic job counteracting this campaign.
  • Legislation to encourage Breastfeeding. Whether you prefer longer leave for new mothers or you insist the government create flexible schedules for parents (and anybody else who needs flexibility) and remodeling government spaces to be baby-friendly, you can find liberals and conservatives coming together on topics like these.
I have have used up all my blogging time for today (and yesterday, when I began this post). Please excuse errors and confusing sentence structure. My goal in the New Year for this blog is to post with self-forgiveness so that I post more often. I don't want to sit on posts waiting to actually give them a 2nd (and 3rd) read-through someday.

Also, many of these thoughts were encouraged by one of my great commenters to my Newton's Laws post. She mentioned how the word "feminist" might need to be thought of more like the word "mother" or "writer." I think that is a great concept and in need of much more discussion. Feminism too spans the political mobius strip. In rebranding feminism today, we need to portray feminist thought as more fluid and on a continuum. In doing so, women can come together on so many issues instead of often seeing each other as far far away on the other side of the linear spectrum.


Jeff said...

Mother, Writer, Feminist, less an affiliation and more a practice?

Homeschooling: In Va you may homeschool if you have a high school diploma. However if you don't have a college degree, you have more requirements to fill. It's either that you have to have your curriculum/lesson plan approved or you must use an approved standardized test or both. Home school parents who have a college degree have the option at the end of the year of just submitting a report of what was studied and what progress was made. Though for us the standardized test was easier.

Cynthia said...

Thanks so much for the clarification, Jeff. I am going to go ahead and edit that line in the post so I don't confuse to many people out-of-state that don't read your comment!!

TMae said...

@ Jeff - an even better idea; feminism as a way of life.

I've always found it interesting that 'feminism' (I used the quotes because I want to represent the negotiable nature of the word - no hard and fast defining here) usually finds its home on the left of the spectrum. The idea that women should be able to define themselves, have reproductive control of their bodies, have equal access, etc. gets put on the liberal shelf and becomes the cause of left wing.

Which immediately means that women who don't identify with the left can't identify with feminism, because they stand for the right, and if they're on the right, how can they also be on the left, without being torn in two?

And a schism is created.

I digress because what I have often found so interesting, is that I think feminism is much more of a libertarian ideal, than a liberal ideal. I want to be allowed to do what I think is best for me, with as little government interference as possible.

I joke that the difference between a militia and a commune is the weapons cache. Take away, or add the guns...and they're not all that different.

Summer said...

It is an odd mobius strip isn't it. I'm as liberal as can be, yet passionate about homeschooling and homebirth - both of which I find more allies in conservative circles.

Naticia said...

Now you just stuck the yarn and the stuff stuck to it into the pot, and I have to sort it back out and pull it back, just when I think I found the end of it, or start pulling, I stop seeing the thread for the mess it is in, or see the mess it is in and stop seeing the thread. It is actually getting kind of funny. Talk about food for thought, more like gluttony if you ask me. I love you and miss you. Hope to grab 5 and see you soon!

Tori, Jessie, Ria, and Kitty Kat said...

I agree with you! Feminism IS a concept that has MANY more connotations than it did years ago.

A literature teacher, Dr. Moraou, at ODU in Norfolk, VA once said in class that any woman who said they were NOT a feminist today didn't truly understand what feminism meant. I completely agree because having the right to CHOOSE to stay-at-home and be THE mama rather than the Superwoman who has to do it all (the way I think about women who work AND have kiddos) is SUCH an awesome opportunity and blessing! I marvel at the fortitude and determination of women in the past who kept plugging along with NO choice... I don't think I could!!!

Possum said...

Cynthia, I loved this post! Sandor Katz talks about the same meeting of disparate minds in his book, The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved, in which he deals with the growing local food movement. That's yet another place where you often find people with wildly different political ideologies who are quite passionate about clean, local food. Raw milk and pastured chickens really get people rile up!