There is an on-line test called The Political Compass that many people take which determines, according to how you answer a series of questions, just where you fall on the political spectrum. It places individuals on a grid that goes not just from left to right, economically, but from “authoritarian” to “libertarian” on the up / down axis.
Now I do not necessarily place a whole lot of credence on the veracity of this test, but every time I take it I find myself snuggied right up somewhere between Gandhi and Albert Schweitzer. The test tells me that I am practically as liberal as liberal gets. It tells me that I’m practically a saint, for chrissake. But, I would think that where a person falls on the political spectrum would depend on where they stand on the specific issues. On the domestic American front, I favor a woman’s right to choose an abortion. I favor the rights of my Gay friends to marry whomever they will. I prefer a tax code that favors the poor and the middle class and I very much believe in the regulation of polluting industries and the necessity of government to ensure workers rights and safety in the work-place. On the foreign policy front, I opposed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and marched in anti-war rallies in San Francisco perhaps dozens of times. I even marched under the banner of the A.N.S.W.E.R. coalition.
Now I am told, by not very thoughtful leftist political partisans, that I am not a “liberal” because I oppose the Obama administration and very much hope to see a president Romney come next year.
More thoughtful individuals, however, tell me that I am a political moderate, but on the “right-wing fringe” when it comes to the Arab-Israel conflict. Am I? The primary distinction between left and right on the Arab-Israel conflict is where one stands on the two-state solution. Traditionally, the left was associated with desiring two states for two peoples through a negotiated end of hostilities. The right, on the other hand, generally favored the annexation of Judea and Samaria, for security and religious reasons, thus making two states impossible.
I am one of those who for many years favored the two-state solution via the Oslo Accords. All through the 1990s, and well into the 2000s, my hope was simply that the two sides would sit down at the table and bang out an agreement. During the Clinton years many of us were fairly optimistic, actually. It seemed as if, at least from my perch on the west coast of the United States, that peace might finally come between Jew and Arab in the Holy Land. Those hopes, needless to say, were dashed by Yassir Arafat at the end of Clinton’s second term when he walked away from the table, refused to make a counter-offer, and launched the Second Terror War (intifada).
Nonetheless, for years thereafter I still clung to the hope that maybe, just maybe, the two sides could come to an agreement. But then two things happened which made me realize that the Arabs were not going to allow Israel to live in peace. The first was dictator Abbas’s refusal of Olmert’s offer in 2008 and the second was Barack Obama’s ruination of whatever was left of the peace process when he demanded “total settlement freeze” shortly after taking office.
I have now come to the conclusion that a two state agreement based upon a negotiated end of hostilities is not to be, not any time in the near future, that much is certain. This does not mean, however, that I have entirely given up on the two state solution. At this point, it seems to me, it is necessary for Israel to take matters into its own hands and declare its final boundaries on the east, remove the IDF to behind those boundaries and be done with it. Whether that means annexing “Area C,” or some other geographic configuration, should be entirely up to Israelis, in my view. It is not up to diaspora Jews, such as myself, to dictate to my fellow Jews in Israel when it is you guys that must live with the consequences.
So where does this put me on the political spectrum viz-a-viz the Arab-Israel conflict? I honestly do not know and, in truth, I am not at all certain that I care. I am a political apostate in the sense that I no longer consider myself a man of the left. This does not mean, however, that I no longer hold views commonly associated with the left. I most certainly do. But I will no longer allow myself to be bullied by authoritarian “progressives” into dismissing voices on the right which they hope to marginalize and delegitimize. I am open to various points of view and no longer consider a voice from the right-wing to be automatically suspect or just plain bad and wrong, merely by virtue of being considered on the right.
I am generally accused of being right-wing not as a fair descriptive of my actual political positions, but as a way for “progressives” to encourage others to simply dismiss what I have to say. It is so much easier than dealing with issues or questions or criticisms if one can simply wave a hand and say, “Oh, well, he’s a conservative.”
I call out the left all the time, but not because I wish to dismiss their ideas, but because I come out of that movement and wish to criticize their ideas. I find that when I get called out as a “conservative” it is not to criticize my ideas, but to simply dismiss those ideas.
And that, my friends, will not suffice. Political sands are shifting and the lines between left and right, at least in the United States, are not so clearly drawn as they once were. And, in truth, I find it liberating. Let us free ourselves of ideologies and political labels that act as boundaries to thought. I have and what that means is that I can now read Caroline Glick without guilt or without having to pull my laptop under the covers so that no one will see.
And for that I could hardly be more grateful.