Politics & Policy

A Guide to Basic Differences between Left and Right

Election day in Elyria, Ohio, November 8, 2016. (Reuters phoot: Aaron Josefczyk)
Some opposing definitions in the American political lexicon

Source of Human Rights     

Left:   Government  

Right: The Creator

Human Nature

Left:   Basically good (therefore society primarily responsible for evil)

Right: Not basically good (therefore the individual primarily responsible for evil)

Economic Goal

Left:   Equality

Right: Prosperity

Primary Role of the State

Left:   Increase and protect equality

Right: Increase and protect liberty


Left:   As large as possible

Right: As small as possible

Family Ideal

Left:   Any loving unit of people

Right: Married father and mother and children

Guiding Trinity

Left:   Race, Gender, Class

Right: Liberty, In God We Trust, E Pluribus Unum

Good and Evil

Left:   Relative to individual and/or society

Right: Based on universal absolutes

Humanity’s Primary Division(s)

Left:   Rich and poor. Strong and weak

Right: Good and evil

Ideal Primary Identity of an American

Left:   World citizen

Right: American citizen

How to Make a Good Society

Left:   Abolish inequality

Right: Develop each citizen’s moral character

View of America

Left:   Profoundly morally flawed, inferior to any number of European countries 

Right: Greatest force for good among nations in world history


Left:   A social construct

Right: Male and female     

Most Important Trait to Cultivate in a Child        

Left:   Self-esteem

Right: Self-control

Worth of the Human Fetus

Left:   Determined by the mother

Right: Determined by society rooted in Judeo-Christian values

Primary Source of Crime

Left:   Poverty, racism, and other societal flaws

Right: The criminal’s malfunctioning conscience

Place of God and Religion in America

Left:   Secular government and secular society

Right: Secular government and religious society

American Exceptionalism

Left:   Chauvinistic doctrine

Right: Historical reality

Greatest Threat to the World

Left:   Environmental catastrophe; currently global warming         

Right: Evil; currently Islamist violence

International Ideal

Left:   World governed by the United Nations, and no single country is dominant

Right: World in which America is the single strongest entity

Primary Reason for Lack of Peace in Middle East

Left:   Israeli settlements in the West Bank

Right: Palestinian, Arab, Muslim denial of Jewish state’s right to exist

Purpose of Art

Left:   Challenge status quo and bourgeois sensibilities

Right: Produce works of beauty and profundity to elevate the individual and society


Left:   Ideally universally abolished except for police, armed forces, and registered sportsmen

Right: Ideally widely owned by responsible individuals for self-protection and protection of others


Left:   Intrinsically significant

Right: Intrinsically insignificant

Racial, Ethnic, and Gender Diversity at Universities

Left:   Nothing more important

Right: Far less important than ideological diversity

Black America’s Primary Problem

Left:   Racism

Right: Lack of fathers

Greatest Playwright

Left:   Entirely subjective. There is no greatest playwright

Right: Shakespeare


Left:   “War is not the answer.”

Right: Sometimes the only answer to evil


Left:   Wrong except when directed at the political Right

Right: Wrong except when directed at evil


Left:   All equal

Right: Some are better than others.

America’s Founders

Left:   Rich, white, male slave-owners        

Right: Great men who founded the greatest society

Purpose of Judges

Left:   Pursue social justice

Right: Pursue justice

National Borders

Left:   A relic of the past

Right: Indispensable to national survival

View of Illegal Immigrants

Left:   Welcomed guests

Right: Illegal immigrants


Left:   Nature intrinsically valuable

Right: Nature is made for man.

— Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His latest book, The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code, was published by Regnery. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at dennisprager.com. © 2017 Creators.com​

Dennis Prager — Dennis Prager’s latest book, The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code, was published by Regnery. He is a nationally syndicated radio show host and creator of PragerUniversity.com. © 2018 Creators.com.

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