How the Left and Right Think

The Roots of Division in American Politics

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About the Book

Emerson said of the left and right, “Each is a good half, but an impossible whole.” In public affairs, the left traditionally pushes for political, economic and social progress, while the right steers towards individual opportunity, stability, tradition and the maintenance of gains already made. Their disagreement is the basis of most of our political discourse.

Drawing on four decades of field research on partisan conflicts in the U.S., Northern Ireland and Israel, the author provides a clear, concise explanation of how the left and right think and why their respective philosophies reflect competing views of human nature.

Click here for questions that appear at the end of each chapter.

About the Author(s)

Bill Meulemans is a professor of political science who specializes in analyzing the political values and behavior of the political left and right. His written work is based on 40 years of field research in the United States, Northern Ireland, and Israel. He lives in Aurora, Oregon.

Bibliographic Details

Bill Meulemans
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 290
Bibliographic Info: bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2019
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7878-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3691-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments  v

Preface  1

Introduction  3

1. What’s Happening to Us?  7

Secret Money  11

Undermining the Electorate  15

Why It Happened  17

Reformers of the Left and Right  18

Nowhere Else to Go  19

White Supremacists  24

Necessary Reforms  27

Questions for You  33

2. Left and Right  35

Fixing Society  38

Criticisms of the Left  41

Criticisms of the Right  45

Charges and Counter Charges  47

Blind Spots  51

Illegal Politics  56

Questions for You  61

3. Foundations of Politics  63

New Words for Old Ideas  68

Eternal Questions  69

Outside Threats  76

A Poor People’s Conference  81

Questions for You  86

4. Personal Experiences  89

The Function of Ideologies  90

Learning Political Values  93

An Autobiography of a Liberal  98

An Autobiography of a Conservative  104

Advantages and Disadvantages  110

Morality  120

Questions for You  125

5. Expectations and Deprivations  127

Role of the Central Government  128

Constitutionalism  129

Setting the Scenario  130

Consequences  134

Post-World War II (1945 to the Present)  136

Unfinished Business  142

Attacking the System  143

Success and Anger  145

Questions for You  148

6. ­Left-Wing Values  150

What They Believe  151

In Their Own Words  153

Basic Problems for the Left  160

Saul Alinsky  164

Revolutionaries on the Left  166

Problems for Revolutionary Radicals  167

The Communist Party  169

Questions for You  171

7. Right-Wing Values  173

What They Believe  173

In Their Own Words  176

Basic Problems for the Right  183

Mitt Romney  186

Revolutionaries on the Right  188

Problems for Revolutionary Reactionaries  190

The Ku Klux Klan  192

Questions for You  197

8. Ideas and People Move to the Right  199

Public Reactions  201

Self-Interest  202

Betrayal of Principles  203

Revolution of the Right or Left?  205

The ­Flip-Flop  207

More or Less Freedom?  212

Negative and Positive Freedom  215

The New Reactionaries  219

The New Radicals  226

Questions for You  231

9. Moderates, Activists, and Extremists  233

Moderates: Liberals and Conservatives  236

Moderates: Characteristics in Common  240

Activists: Radicals and Reactionaries  241

Activists: Characteristics in Common  246

Extremists: Revolutionary Radicals & Revolutionary Reactionaries  247

Extremists: Characteristics in Common  252

Questions for You  255

10. Beyond Ideology  257

Left and Right  258

Predictability  259

Political Manners  262

Trump versus ­Anti-Trump  263

A Recipe for Disaster  265

The Dark Corners of America  267

Questions for You  270

Bibliography  273

Index  277

Click here for questions that appear at the end of each chapter.

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Invaluable…recommended”—Midwest Book Review.