In todays society, we hear about the left and right wing constantly. We know Trump has extreme right-winged policies and left-winged people won’t be happy until there is free healthcare for everyone. But what does any of it actually mean? Here are the basics.
People on the right wing
- See society as survival of the fittest.
- Believe in individualism; in the sense that the rich should stay rich, and the poor should stay poor. (This is basically capitalism)
- Believe that they should not have to fund anyone elses education or health service.
- Believe in economic freedom and that large businesses and corporations should not be regulated.
- Hold conservative and traditional beliefs, such as a strong national defence, traditional family structures etc.
- Often oppose progressive views, such as abortion, marriage equality etc.
In Ireland, an example of a conservative would be Enda Kenny. Kenny is a member of Fine Gael. Under the current government (predominantly Fine Gael and Fianna Fail; two very similar parties) a budget of €35 million was agreed to be spent on mental health. However this right-winged government made a total U-Turn and cut that promised €35 million to a miserable €15 million. As shown by the diagram above, they fall on the right side of the political spectrum, making them right wing, due to their political ideology. An example of Fine Gaels right-winged beliefs is echoed in their previous election slogan “Keep the recovery going.” They support the current system and believe the country is heading in the right direction. (Despite the weekly strikes by different work forces, zero hour contracts, a horrific housing crisis, a homeless epidemic, lack of hospital beds etc).
People on the left
- Believe in a secular society. In other words, the separation of Church and State. This means when a government is deciding and creating policies, the influence of the Church should not affect those polices.
- Believe in income equality. This means the wealthy will be taxed higher amounts.
- Oppose privatisation. This essentially means to value people before profit.
- Believe people should be entitled to free healthcare.
- Believe people should be entitled to free education.
- Supports progressive,socialist views; abortion rights, LGBTQ+ rights, ethnic minority rights etc.
In Ireland, an example of a socialist would be Ruth Coppinger TD. Coppinger is a member of Solidarity, formerly known as the Anti-Austerity Alliance. The Socialist party falls on the left of the political spectrum. This is due to their equality-based ideas. They believe in solidarity with working class people, women, minorities and other groups who experience oppression. Solidarity have been key figures in the Anti-Water Charges campaign and have played a vital role in campaigning for the repeal of the 8th amendment. They recognise the current system does not work for ordinary people and offer people a left alternative to the current right-wing government.
And so there you have it. A basic breakdown of the right and left wing. You might have a clearer indication of where your own political beliefs fall now. If not, there is a super fun online test that will directly place you on the left or right side based on your answers. You can then match it up with the above graph and see which political party you best identify with.
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