The American political compass — from the middle to the right

American history is full of examples from when the two major parties were completely unrecognizable from their present-day selves. Compared to European political parties, the US political landscape has moved significantly over the years. Parties have switched names, places, ideas, people, and voters.

In the UK, Labour has always been to the left and the Conservatives have always been to the right. The same can be said for the Swedish Social Democrats and the Moderates. This dichotomy can not be translated to US politics. The Democrats have gone from being the party of segregationists to being the party of civil rights just within the last century. The Republicans have gone from being the party of Lincoln and emancipation to relying solely on white votes and having a leader whose greatest weapon is the dog-whistle.

Trump has accused Biden of being controlled by the radical left. Many Americans took a step back in fear as Bernie Sanders willingly called himself a democratic socialist because, since the Cold War, the only thing a lot of older Americans can think of when they hear the word “socialist” is Josef Stalin and Fidel Castro.

But what the so-called “radical left” is campaigning for would barely scratch the surface of center-left politics in a European context. Some Democrats on the left side of the party have admitted that they wouldn't be in the same party as Joe Biden if the US was a multi-party democracy like many European countries are.

In a European context, the American “radical left” would be considered center-left, Joe Biden and his band of moderate Democrats would be slightly to the right of the middle, and the Republicans would barely exist on any political map with their current views of an extremely limited government, except of course for the military, and social conservatism. These views of course exist in Europe, but they don’t hold one of the major parties in a vice-like grip like they do in the United States.

We can see this slowly changing among younger demographics. Like Bernie Sanders showed us, there are many people who have shed the Red Scare after multiple financial crises and various other hardships. The generation who will be the first who will have a lower standard of living than their parents unsurprisingly do not run away screaming when a major presidential candidate self-identifies as a “democratic socialist”.

Slowly but surely, the American political compass is moving from going from the middle to the right, to maybe in a few years even include an actual left.


DC Journalist from Sweden with a BA from the UK

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