Most people have a mental image of the “Political Spectrum.” They use it to size up and choose political candidates and make political conversation with their friends, but the image most people have of this spectrum is speculative and inconsistent. It’s certainly not based on an understanding of Liberty such as Americans of the Founding Era held.
When most people speak of a politician or an idea as being on the left or on the right of the Political Spectrum, they are referring to “liberal on the left and “conservative” on the right. So, Democrats ant their ideas go on the left, and Republicans go on the right. If pressed to explain the meaning of left and right, people talk about ideas or positions that are commonly classified as belonging on one side or the other. They might say that welfare and “crazy checks” are a left-wing policies. They might say that protecting the right to own and use firearms is a right-wing policy. While these things are indeed found on the left and right of the spectrum, they are merely applications or examples, not fundamental principles. Yet, fundamental principles about Liberty are what we need most in America today.
America’s Founders and the average adult freeman of the Founding Era could go much deeper in explaining the principles of Liberty than Americans today. They too had a Political Spectrum, but unlike the common notions of left and right today, theirs was based on fundamental principles, not vague supposition. Reasoning from the principles, Americans of the Founding Era had a logical and consistent way of classifying political candidates, platforms, opinions, and actions of government at every level. Click here to view a Political Spectrum based on the principles of Liberty widely held during the Founding Era of these United States.
In The 5000 Year Leap, a book by Cleon Skousen, we find that America’s Founders measured political systems in terms of the coercive power or systematic control that government exercises over people inside its jurisdiction. In other words, their yardstick was not political parties, but political power. Using this type of yardstick, the Founders considered the two extremes to be ANARCHY on the one hand, and TYRANNY on the other. The term “anarchy” represents no government power, while “tyranny” represents total government power.
It really does not matter which term is placed on the left or right of the spectrum. The point is that the terms depict two entirely different government structures defined by power. To God and America’s Founders, however, neither of these extremes represented desirable government structures.
Returning to Skousen, we read, “At the one extreme of Anarchy there is no government, no law, no systematic control, and no governmental power, while at the other extreme there is too much control, too much political oppression, too much government”– or, as the Founders called it, “Tyranny.”
Understanding the Political Spectrum as America’s Founders’ did can change the way that you judge candidates for political office and their actions once they get there. It’s time to support only candidates and office holders who are actively and visibly engaged in reducing the power of the federal government (and government at every other level, as well), not just the costs of their un-Constitutional projects and whether or not your family or community is getting a long suck on the federal teat. As long as you send a message to government that you prefer the teat over the principles of Liberty, government power and the tyranny that comes with it will continue to grow.