Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Left/Right: Are Labels Wrong?

Gary Simms has post called "Leaving the Left Behind." He talks about reading the recent Jim Wallis book God Politics which rightly excoriates the Religious Right. Wallis is not sparring of the Religious Left either. Gary says:

I have not finished reading Jim's book at this writing but I am beginning to catch a glimpse of his vision that calls us to move from a Left vs Right approach. If we continue to rally ourselves around the Progressive Banner, we are no different then those we criticize. We too, become self-righteous bigots. We too, become too focused on our agenda and lose sight of God's agenda. We too, become the problem and not the solution.

So are left/right labels wrong and unchristian? IMHO, NO! NO! NO! NO!

I remember listening to a old time journalist on CSPAN who said "The average between the truth and a lie is a lie."

To self identify as Left/Progressive is fine and a good thing and certainly not unChristian. There's no reason to push for "balance" or moderation simply for the sake of it. Nor is there a reason to swear off partisanship for the sake of it. It all comes down to what you believe and what your convictions are and that's what places you where you are on the political spectrum.

John Henry Newman made a living off the Via Media as an Anglican until he realized that via media for itself is not a credible position. He came to realize that if he was in the fourth century, on one extreme would have been the Arians and at the other extreme the anti-Arians (also known as orthodox) and the Via Media were Semi-Arians (a heterodox position). He realized then that if he followed his Via Media principle at the time, he would have been a semi-Arian. So much for middle ways.

I haven't had the opportunity to read Wallis book, so prudence would dictate I read first before I run my mouth. But Prudence is off today. What I can't stand is the issue of false equivalences. It is okay to criticize the Right without having to take perfunctory shots at the Left for "balance." It's not the Religious Right reading the book anyway, it's us Lefties.

The Left-Right paradigm is what works and until that changes politically, there's no need to go scrambling for another paradigm.

I recall also that Peter Nixon had a Commonweal article on something similar, that both Left and Right have defective points and a distinctively Catholic voice is being lost in the public square. Fair enough. But the answer is not for Catholics to move to the center but for Righties to move Left. The center is not the answer in itself. For those at the Center because of political convictions, they are doing the right thing for them. But I don't believe in in the Center or moderation just to avoid taking a position on things or just to try to "average" things out.

I know Wallis is a liberal at heart so in the end, the Right probably gets a good whack on the head while the left gets the "naughty-naughty" finger. Still, we need to be clear, the Left is not the problem, the Religious and Catholic Right are.


Post a Comment

<< Home