Why are the Right and Left so evenly divided? - Isn't this weird?

Overly Serious

kiwifarms.net
The question is fairly simple on the surface. I suspect it's anything but.

Right Wing and Left Wing people can be defined in a few different ways. By affiliation, by psychological tendencies, by moral foundations (this last in particular is very interesting). But however you do it there seems to be one bizarre factor and in your face factor that nobody seems to be commenting on. That these factions fall out to be close to 50:50 numerically in the population. I can understand why someone believe in one set of values, a different person another... but how is it that in national elections, for example. the popular vote keeps falling out to be close to 50:50. Religious beliefs don't fall out at "50% believe in Christianity, 50% believe it's a lie". You don't find half the population are vegan, half are not. You don't get "50% believe in String Theory, 50% don't" in Physics. So what psychological factor leads this one to be 50:50 in political leanings? Instead of say "30%" of people share the moral foundations of Leftist thinking and 70% the moral foundations of Rightist thinking"? It's weird as fuck and has been bugging me for a while.

I can think of a few things. One would be that my hypothesis is wrong and it's not near 50:50. It just looks that way because political parties gravitate around a few crux disagreements out of natural electoral game theory. But then you look at things like moral foundations and wonder if it can all be explained that way. You wonder if there's some natural upbringing effect whereby all little children settle into a role of pro-social / a-social depending on what the other child they most interact with settles into, negotiating out some mutual compatibility that then forms a basis for later viewpoints. You wonder if there's some biological constant that is at play or if you just have a wrong interpretation of Right and Left.

But to me the broad distinction seems to be that Right lean towards individualism and the Left lean towards collectivism. How can it possibly be that this falls out at 50:50 ratio? It seems absurd. And I would love to hear what other people think - whether explanations of why it is or else of why it's not as it seems to me.
 

Just A Butt

Walker went on to call Flaten a "weenie."
True & Honest Fan
kiwifarms.net
it's all a song and dance, the numbers they feed you are meaningless in the real world. at least that's my opinion.

my personal political stance is all over the place, sometimes I agree with the "left" and sometimes the "right" so maybe in that sense, we are all split, 50/50
 

Pointless Pedant

Breaking the chains of gravity
True & Honest Fan
kiwifarms.net
This isn't true at all. The easiest way to see this is to look at ballot initiatives. This year, affirmative action failed 57-43 in the (sapphire blue) state of California. Earlier this year, Medicaid expansion passed by a narrow margin in the (ruby red) state of Oklahoma. Based on these results Medicaid expansion would pass easily in a national referendum and affirmative action would get crushed.

The average citizen leans social-democratic on economic issues and classical liberal (legal weed + freedom of religion but not critical race theory) on social ones. This means that elected Democrats are way more culturally "progressive" than the average person and elected Republicans are far more economically conservative (at least in theory, it's not like they actually keep the deficit down these days). Elections rely on independent voters going one way or the other based on what positions they consider most important.

This also means a Bull Moose ticket of moderate economic progressivism without political correctness would absolutely dominate if anyone ever ran one.
 

Seventh Star

hungry burger fan
kiwifarms.net
This also means a Bull Moose ticket of moderate economic progressivism without political correctness would absolutely dominate if anyone ever ran one.
It'd need the backing of at least one of the parties. It isn't happening. It's safer to go for your known audience.
 

Pointless Pedant

Breaking the chains of gravity
True & Honest Fan
kiwifarms.net
It'd need the backing of at least one of the parties. It isn't happening. It's safer to go for your known audience.
Disruptive runs are possible, even likely at this point given all the anti-establishment sentiment around. I was thinking of a more successful version of what Ross Perot did in 1992. It's definitely not a safe strategy, though, so the establishment won't do it.
 

Penis Drager

Pronouns: Fee/Fi/Fo/Fum
kiwifarms.net
The reason is that "left and right" are fairly nebulous terms that change over time. Even the individual-collective dichotomy doesn't hold a lot of water seeing as fascism is ostensibly collective and absolutely right wing.

People don't gravitate to the left or right based on any inherent moral values of the people or the ideology, they naturally fall along that even split because the center shifts with popular opinion. If we lived in a Marxist world, the people saying "hey, let's be a tad less Marxist" would be "far right" despite their overall views being far left in today's society.
 

Pointless Pedant

Breaking the chains of gravity
True & Honest Fan
kiwifarms.net
The reason is that "left and right" are fairly nebulous terms that change over time. Even the individual-collective dichotomy doesn't hold a lot of water seeing as fascism is ostensibly collective and absolutely right wing.

People don't gravitate to the left or right based on any inherent moral values of the people or the ideology, they naturally fall along that even split because the center shifts with popular opinion. If we lived in a Marxist world, the people saying "hey, let's be a tad less Marxist" would be "far right" despite their overall views being far left in today's society.
This is broadly true, although a lot of partisan issues are not actually 50/50 in practice (cannabis legalisation is supported more than this to the point where even red states pass it by ballot initiative, for example, while affirmative action is nowhere near 50% nationally).
 

Penis Drager

Pronouns: Fee/Fi/Fo/Fum
kiwifarms.net
a lot of partisan issues are not actually 50/50 in practice
You're missing the point just a tad:
As I said, what qualifies as a partisan issue depends on the values of the time.
Marijuana legalization is hardly partisan at this point, abolition is only really supported by those kinda far on the right. Affirmative action is much the same being ostensibly a fringe left thing. It's worth noting, though, that marijuana was hotly partisan just a couple decades ago and affirmative action may become a serious proposition not very long from now.
 

Pointless Pedant

Breaking the chains of gravity
True & Honest Fan
kiwifarms.net
You're missing the point just a tad:
As I said, what qualifies as a partisan issue depends on the values of the time.
Marijuana legalization is hardly partisan at this point, abolition is only really supported by those kinda far on the right. Affirmative action is much the same being ostensibly a fringe left thing. It's worth noting, though, that marijuana was hotly partisan just a couple decades ago and affirmative action may become a serious proposition not very long from now.
Affirmative action lost by more in California this year than in 1996. It's not shifting any closer to 50/50 unless you take Twitter as a measure of public opinion - but it's law in several states anyway regardless of what people actually think.
 

Bloitzhole

OH RUSTY ANCHOR
kiwifarms.net
Because you are most likely a resident of the united states where there's a two party (of similar power) system that divides the entirety of the population.

The fewer parties there are and the harder it is for a new party to enter the fray and become an actual option in elections (which is one rather important aspect of democracy - the ability to be represented and therefore make your own party if existing options are shite to you), the closer the existing parties tend to gravitate together (because any thought that is even slightly radical immediately upsets their balance) in all but a few "key" issues and ideologies (Wolinetz 2006, 54f) that will - if the party system is engrained long enough - be shaping and shaped by and along societal cleavages (and yes, this is called cleavage theory).
Whenever an issue that divides the public occurs, parties will take stances depending on their voter base and existing ideology alongside one end of these cleavages. In a two party systems these will then have to represent the entirety of possible responses that there could be to an issue, even though there aren't just two but probably two thousand.
Say migration. Pro and counter. One or the other.
Again, in multiparty systems, these approaches can be more nuanced. If you have 5 parties, you can have 2 parties representing the extremes (open borders vs closed) plus three that have semi-open or semi-restrictive positions. In a two party system, the line will be drawn and shifted constantly with noone advocating for super open or absolutely closed and everyone just arguing about who gets in in the current quarter under which conditions (this first paragraph would need way too many citations. scholar.google will give you a lot of results if you search "cleavage structures" or "cleavage theory" or either of those with "parties" or "politics" or "voting").

Still, in your mind, because each party has to represent the entirety of one side of the responses to a cleavage issue, one party will be considered the open-borders one and the other the closed/restrictive one.
In the same vein, a cleavage issue could be individualism versus collectivism which you have named as an identifier.
Even though both parties are closely aligned overall, they are viewed as representing mutually exclusive "solutions" to this cleavage structure. Thus one side, in the mind of the voter, becomes the FREEDOM INDIVIDUAL PARTY and the other the HUGBOX COLLECTIVISM PARTY. Or if you will, the left and the right party.

That is among the possible reasons why it is near 50:50 in your mind.

Other countries with more parties are skewered more to one side or another overall and to analyse those, one usually relies on divisions into party families (Vassalo and Wilcox 2006, 417f) - communist, socialist, left libertarian, green, liberal, christian democratic and new right is the typical spectrum for europe.

Note also that PoSci systems like left-right were usually created based on data. Dividing data in the middle when creating two categories is sensible.

Vassallo, F., & Wilcox, C. (2006). Party as a Carrier of Ideas. Handbook of party politics, 413-421.
Wolinetz, S. B. (2006). Party systems and party system types. Handbook of party politics, 51-62.
 
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Haim Arlosoroff

Archpolitician June Lapincal
kiwifarms.net
But however you do it there seems to be one bizarre factor and in your face factor that nobody seems to be commenting on. That these factions fall out to be close to 50:50 numerically in the population. I can understand why someone believe in one set of values, a different person another... but how is it that in national elections, for example. the popular vote keeps falling out to be close to 50:50. Religious beliefs don't fall out at "50% believe in Christianity, 50% believe it's a lie". You don't find half the population are vegan, half are not. You don't get "50% believe in String Theory, 50% don't" in Physics. So what psychological factor leads this one to be 50:50 in political leanings?
This is not a hard question at all. However it is one in which most see the wrong angle or suspicion and confuse cause for effect and obviously the reverse thereafter.

The shortest way I can put this is you are misinterpreting that the right and left are causing themselves to be 50/50 in the population. This is the opposite of what is happening, the effect is the left/right distinction and the cause is the elections and their near 50/50 outcomes. The 50/50 split form the Left and the Right, not the reverse.

Imagine instead you wanted to define what apple pies were in the Official American Cookbook, but there was a lot of historical variations and you needed an outright majority of people to agree in order to stamp your political stances recipe into the history books Official American Cookbook. You use say cinnamon/nutmeg/allspice/brown sugar and your one opponent (as there is a two party system of pie-baking in America because nobody wants to compromise or share customers so only madmen bother to continue baking pies that 1-7% of people like even if that is a valid demographic) uses a cinnamon/nutmeg/allspice/ginger/plain sugar/instant coffee/cardamom recipe. The outcome is 30/70, 30% of people like your recipe and 70% like your opponents. Well, good thing they are wise enough currently to allow variation and self-choice in pie-making, allowing you to continue your ruthless attempt at destroying said variation and self-choice in pie-making eventually. However, how do you do that?

Well, you are stuck in one way. You don't want to just copy their recipe defeating the point unless winning desperately out of pure ego becomes your thing. Which can be politically true as well, but we are still talking about pies only. So, first thing is you want to know exactly why people like their apple pie and who doesn't like yours. Old folks like yours, it feels traditional and so they feel traditional even though they themselves are buying your pies instead of traditionally baking their own. Is there anything in politics like that happening? Don't think about it, focus on the pies! Your opponent grabs the immigrant share of Apple pie baking, because for some reason Mexicans like ginger in their pies. Well, now so do you.

25/75, what happened? Ginger is for Mexicans says your new ex-customers. Okay, cinnamon/nutmeg/allspice/brown sugar/instant coffee/cardamom then. 45/55. You won them back although you lost the Mexicans. You might not even like your pies anymore, but that is less important then driving your stupid opponent and their plain sugar into the ground. Did you care about plain sugar before, maybe you even baked with it in Theodore Roosevelt's day but you hate it now. On and on your politicians cooks adjust their platforms recipes until you win.

This is a tired metaphor at this point, but my greater purpose is just to say that there are three tugs of war in American Politics. Republican internal primaries, Democrat internal primaries, and the actual election. Each side is trying to keep their political stances (the recipe of their American Apple Pie) as close to their core beliefs as they can. Each side is also trying to change their political stances to steal votes from the other team. This creates internal tugs of war in which core beliefs overtake new variation after every victory, and variation wins after every defeat. The forces balance over time and the voting blocs solidify around 50/50 but never exactly 50/50 for long as variation overtakes core political stances unless they receive >50% of the vote.

TL;DR: There are internal tugs of war continuously as to what exactly left and right are and victory codifies as often as where failure deconstructs. The forces of change are strongest the more they lose by and weakest when they receive narrow victories. 50/50 is the point of dual stability in internally defining the Left and the Right.
 

Bad Take Crucifier

It was the most unholy thing I had ever seen
kiwifarms.net
There are only two options allowed. When was the last time anyone from parties not Democrat or Republican were allowed on the national TV debate stage in the US?

OP is fucking stupid.
 
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