A spectrum is a metaphor for political beliefs. A spectrum suggests that an individual can be placed in a single spot on the spectrum, or perhaps slides left or right from time to time. A spectrum also implies that if you are far right or left you are an extremist and if you are not, you are more reasonable.
It also implies a center with “centrists”. Though there are liberal and conservative worldviews based in particular sets of values, there is no consistent set of values that make up a centrist worldview. Some believe that compromise defines a centrist, but there is no reason to believe people who hold conservative or liberal views can’t, don’t or wont compromise. Compromise is not a worldview; it’s simply being an adult.
A Venn diagram is another way to envision worldviews.
In a political Venn Diagram, circles are sets of values, say a blue circle for liberal values and a red for conservative. about 25% of people fall solidly in a liberal circle and another 25% fall solidly in the conservative circle.
However many people either do not have a cohesive worldview or they simply choose values and policies from both sides for their own reasons. They have a mixture of America’s two dominant worldviews -conservative on this issue, liberal on another. Instead of “center” George Lakoff uses the term “bi-conceptuals” to describe this overlap between worldviews and notes that a rather large percentage of people fall into that category. For example Libertarians are mostly conservative but also support Net Neutrality and legalizing marijuana.
And you could make a case that there are two republican circles -one for old style Republicans who have left the party and the new off-the-rails white supremacist Republicans that control the party.
So when we talk of left and right or liberals and conservative’s it’s important to understand that people are complex. Our job is to proclaim our liberal messages loudly and often so the Biconceptuals will, more and more, see the world the way we do. At the same time we must strongly fight our impulse (as DCCC Chair Rep Patrick Maloney did) to respond to, repeat or address Republican messages about us or our policies.
What is hopeful about this is that almost all of us who live in this culture understand the values of both parties, whether we apply them to politics or not. The more we frame the world using our values the more people will readopt our way of looking at things. That’s how the GOP got power.