The True Agenda of The Left–Not

Andrew Sullivan is critical of the advocacy by Crooked Timber of “the government policing speech to protect minorities.” I totally agree with Sullivan there. Where I differ from him is where he says, “At last they’re honest about the true agenda of the left.”

This isn’t my agenda, and I bet it is not the agenda of a lot of others on the left. This raises the question of whether we what it means to be on the left or right. In recent years my views have been identified more as on the left due to taking positions such as opposing the war, supporting separation of church and state, supporting abortion rights, supporting stem cell research, supporting legalization of same sex marriage, and opposing the authoritarianism of current Republicans. I also am a strong supporter of the free market system and object to George Bush’s fiscal responsibility, which is true of many others currently labeled as on the left.

Sullivan demonstrates the problem with our division based upon left versus right when he states, “Those newish readers who now think I’m some sort of lefty because of my opposition to Bush’s incompetence, fiscal recklessness, and authoritarianism might realize upon reading it that I’m still a proud conservative, fighting a for a tradition today’s Republicans, more than anyone else, have attacked and defiled.” While there are areas where I’ve disagreed with him that aren’t apparent from this brief comment, based upon this short summary our views seem to be too close for one of us to be on the left and one on the right.

The answer to this isn’t to try to figure out whether Sullivan is really on the left or I’m really on the right but to realize the limitations of the terminology. There are many on the left who I disagree with more than some on the right. It certainly is not legitimate to quote one leftist blog as Sullivan did on this post and claim it to be evidence of an anti-freedom agenda on the left.  Both the left and the right include too much variation in views for this to be a valid argument.

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