Let’s wean ourselves of the ‘far left’ and ‘far right’ divide

It’s unfortunate that in a recent op-ed (“Thank the far right for the government shutdown,” Opinion, Dec. 28), former congressman Barney Frank used the term “far right” as a description of people and policies, which led to a letter writer hoping that that wouldn’t lead to “far left” candidates and policies. The letter concluded with a wish for “middle-of-the-road” candidates.


Maybe Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren would not be considered “far left” if the road hadn’t veered so far to the right in the last four decades.

What is a far-left policy? Is it a wish for health care for all, a decent wage and protections for workers, a right not to be grifted by corporations and obtuse user agreements? It seems to me these might have been policies Franklin Roosevelt or Lyndon Johnson might have supported. Were they “far left”?


In 1971, Richard Nixon, under the guidance of conservative economist Milton Friedman, was poised to sign legislation that had passed the House, calling for a guaranteed income, before it died from a lack of Democratic votes in the Senate because it wasn’t perfect enough. If a candidate today supported a universal basic income for US citizens, would they be considered “far left” or “far right”?

Just what does this labeling mean or accomplish besides getting people to choose a side, dig in, and lob tomatoes at each other? We need to get specific in our political discussions or we will continue to get nowhere.

Bill Richardson

Danby, Vt.