New labels on political ideology


While labels of political ideology are brandished over 2020 presidential candidates, such as those who jumped too far to the left and, of course, any member of the Republican Party gets the mandatory alt-right label, it is time to ‘consider a new interpretation of political ideology labels in the United States.

The traditional rendering depicts politicians along a line moving left or right from the ever-changing, but agnostic, “moderate” positions. The center movement is a spectrum in which the further people move away from the center, the more they are in opposition to “the other side”, and the more opponents will describe the politician, citizen or group as extreme. It is not a precise conceptual model to show how far we are from our founding American political ideology.

Consider first that the “center” of the line should not be labeled “moderate”. See the center as our founding American ideology, such as the recognition of our inalienable rights conferred by natural law, the consent of limited and governed government, appreciation of federalism, respect for the rule of law, the rule of its property , respect for his work and a free market enterprise.

Second, consider that labels given to people shouldn’t be based on what they say or write, but on how they act. Thinking like the pragmatist American philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914), meaning is taken from our public actions, not from what we think.

Then imagine the labels of political ideology not along a line but rather like an arch. The actions of people who stray from our founding American ideology are camouflaged. Those furthest from the left or the right do not really touch each other but resemble each other through their actions, which go against our founding American values.

To illustrate, examine the actions of an alt-right group, Klu Klux Klan. Also, examine the actions of today’s alt-left group Antifa. They are not opposed on a linear spectrum but in reality very close and similar as each moves away from our American ideology.

How are they similar? Both have an abject and irrational hatred for a group of people. Both claim to “speak” for a larger group of society than reality. They go out of their own way in life to disguise themselves, while doing harm. They are generally silent. The two meet in private and do not want to be identified. They are in fact few in number; but the media choose which group they pay attention to, either to make them larger than life or insignificant. Both claim to be “patriots”, in a way. They aspire to a society that is not based on reality for what America stands for, for example there is no superior race and there is no utopia. The two cover their faces to do their deeds. They both act cowardly.

Threats to the American spirit and America’s founding principles are not only threatened by these extremes, but are threatened by other ideologies and actions that stray from the values ​​of civic republicanism. In this new interpretation, American ideology is the authentic political space. Slogans such as “My country loves it or leaves it” or contempt for the founding principles of America because they were “developed by a bunch of dead whites” do not conform to the American spirit, nor with whom we should also be a civilian people living in a country guided by the Constitution of the United States.

The arch to the left or to the right dilutes, and if too extreme, poisons the American spirit and the founding principles of our country.

Stephen F. Gambescia is Professor of Health Services Administration at Drexel University in Philadelphia. He wrote this for


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