In the Classic Trek, there was an episode called The Enemy Within that saw Captain Kirk split into two halves (best seen to be understood). One of the halves was empathetic, patient, but indecisive; this Kirk lacked strength of will, authority, bodacity. The other Kirk had all the things the other Kirk was missing; decisiveness, boldness, but also belligerence, aggression, and hyper emotionalism. The message the episode tried to convey was that it was the combination of these two halves that made Kirk the leader that he was.
To me, this is a great metaphor for the political spectrum. To woo voters, Parties of the Left and Right will attempt to define each other as being at the extreme of the left-right political spectrum, as wholly separate creatures from themselves. This is a conceit Parties and Party leaders sell to themselves as much as they sell it to us.
Truth is, the best and most successful governments hover around the political Centre. When they move too far in one direction, they divide the country and impact voter intention. This can be strategic, or not.
But is the left/right sepctrum the only way to look at our politics? I tend to think otherwise. Governments from the political left and right can be equally controlling and opaque. In fact, a more reflective political spectrum might look like this:
I look at politics through the eyes of an anthropologist - what I see more than the left-right divide is a selection-of-the-fittest vs a support of the collective divide.
Little or no social support, little or no public education, tough-on-crime, gun ownership, pro-life and pro-capital punishment - these positions are all about empowering people to be naturally tough, able to survive completely independently. It's a fun theory, but in a social context, the weak don't die off, nor can we simply ostracize them, round them up and lock them away or simply do away with them. Weak people in a general populace leads to crime, epidemics, etc. Plus, in a power struggle, there are always subjective decisions that get made about what traits count as more genetically fit than others. That's not an approach that ever goes over very well.
On the other hand, complete social support doesn't work, either. If you give people everything, they atrophy. The don't develop the capacity to think critically or emotional and physical resiliency, etc. The example I hear most often is the playground; if you ban monkey bars so that kids don't get hurt, how will they learn how to not get hurt in the concrete jungle? Even more important - if everyone's on the receiving end, who's delivering? Who's innovating? Nobody, is the answer. We've seen how poorly that plays out, too.
The best political advice one can offer, then, is hold to the centre - on both spectrums. View your competitors not as enemies, but as essential threads of the fabric of what makes a nation great. The whole is more than the sum of its parts, etc.
Opposites create each other – and the opposite of hate is not love, but indifference. Wedge issues make for great politics, but seldom great policy. People aren’t dumb; they pick up on the pandering and become disaffected and disengaged.
And an indifferent society makes for a poor democracy.