One of the things our politics badly, desperately, needs is a new way of describing our philosophical differences. The ye olde left-right formulation was creaky even when it made some relative sense a half-century ago; it has become simply moronic in the years since.
Put under intense political pressure in the last decade, the "left" seems to be making some moves toward coming up with redefinitions - which would fill what has been a vacuum that has allowed the "right" to do the job for it these many years. The need for redefinition of the "right" may be even more imperative; the leaders of that movement daily violate what are commonly described as its core values as a matter of basic principle.
The case may be made clearest when we move away from the two major political parties.
The Constitution Party of Oregon generally gets defined as - and probably they would not argue - a party of the right, "very conservative." You could plausibly imagine that means it is a lot like the "conservative" Republican Party, only more so.
But then you would have to explain the CPO's intense opposition - as strong as if not stronger than that of any wing of the Democratic Party - to American military action in Iraq. The party's vice chair recnetly had a confrontation with state police over one anti-war protest, and the party will be holding an anti-war rally tomorrow. (Nor is any of this a new development.)
You'd also have to explain away something perhaps even more startling: Its picketing of the new Wal-Mart at Grants Pass.
"Their concern is that purchasing those goods is detrimental to the security and prosperity of the United States, as well as exploiting Chinese workers," party officials said in an e-mail. "Those who participate will be holding bright yellow signs reading: 'Boycott Wal-Mart made-in-China products' and 'Chinese slave so you can save' In a play on Wal-Mart's price roll back smiley faces, the signs feature a sad, slant-eyed face, reminding us of the misery we are causing to exploited labor in China."
Both actions fit the party's program, which is loosely held to be "of the right." Perhaps Karl Rove can explain it all for us.