What does right-wing even mean?

BY SCOTT BLINKHORN

Jason Kenny, the newly elected leader of Alberta’s Progressive Conservative party, is set to continue down the path of uniting the right in Alberta.

The two major right wing parties in the province, the PCs and the Wild Rose party, have been at odds despite both calling themselves “conservatives” since the latter was formed in 2002.
Kenny plans to repeat the success of the merger of the Canadian Alliance Party and the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, which created the Conservative Party of Canada. That party eventually broke the years of Liberal rule.

While the idea of uniting the right is a daring political gambit that has the power to decide the next election in the province and retake the legislature from the NDP, it raises the important question of just how useful our political terms are.

The least useful terms are by far left and right wing. The right wing includes everyone from people concerned with mounting federal debt and the crazed orange man currently occupying the White House, to Nazis. Using the same term to talk about all of these people is problematic to say the least.

By giving a single name to a vast collection of often unconnected political opinions and policies, we do nothing but devalue our political discourse. Indeed, how is a reasonable conversation possible when the same words are being used to compare a person in favour of more military spending to fascism.

Things are little better on the left, where a proponent of a national daycare system falls under the same general banner as Karl Marx.

There are, of course, terms designed to help break down the two halves of the spectrum, but they offer precious little in the realm of clarity.

When a political commentator pops onto the television and talks about the right of or left-of-centre, we are all expected to know what exactly being part of the centre means.

Where does a person in the centre stand on issues of taxation? If you are on the right you are supposed to want more, if you’re on the left, you want less. So, if you’re in the centre, you want taxes to stay the same? That seems to make sense, but when it comes to issues like abortion, it seems difficult to find a middle ground between pro-life and pro-choice.

When we talk about the right and the left we do nothing but create confusion and make discourse harder, not to mention oversimplifying politics in general. As a democratic nation, I think we owe it to each other to at least make an effort to talk about the issues rather than resorting to umbrella terms.

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