A variety of social issues in the U.S. divide the left and right. These include abortion, the death penalty, drug policy, gay rights, women’s rights, separation of church and state, gun rights, and healthcare policy. In general, the left-wing philosophy believes in “one for all and all for one,” looking to the government to support those who cannot support themselves. The right-wing, on the other hand, believes supporting individuals in need is not the most efficient way to optimize government resources, and relies on the private sector and charitable institutions for their needs.
The left-wing generally supports abortion rights, but does not outwardly and necessarily believe that abortion is a practice that must constantly be used. Those on the right, largely due to religious beliefs, would like to make abortions illegal. Some majority-right states have enacted legislation recently that would make it harder for women to attain abortions while not outlawing it entirely.
The right-wing believes that a fetus is a living person and that abortion is, therefore, murder. Some people make an exception for cases involving rape and incest, but some do not. Left-wingers believe that women should have control over their bodies and that outlawing abortion infringes on women’s reproductive rights. Some also claim that making abortions illegal will only force them underground, resulting in untrained, non-physicians performing botched abortions, and risking women’s lives in the process.
Almost without exception, those on the left support gay marriage, and other gay rights issues like adoption rights and non-discrimination at work or in business. Most on the right believe marriage is strictly an institution based on the union of a man and a woman, and see gay unions as an aberration from the norm. People on the right also advocate for the right of employers (especially religious institutions, including Catholic hospitals) to choose not to employ gay individuals.
The Death Penalty
Many on the left believe that the death penalty is barbaric and does not deter crime. Meanwhile, the right generally believes that certain crimes deserve death as a punishment, somewhat akin to the “an eye for an eye” doctrine. A debate over the fairness of the criminal justice system has emerged, with the left asserting that many on death row may be innocent, therefore, unjustified.
While some on the right are moving from strongly and wholly supporting the Second Amendment to accepting a ban on assault weapons, many still stand firmly in support of the right to bear arms. Their argument is that guns don’t kill people; people kill people, and every citizen should retain the right to defend themselves. The right to bear arms is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, and any attempt to regulate gun sales infringes on this right. The left is in favor of restricting gun ownership altogether, or at least banning automatic or assault weapons.