Hyrum Lewis & Verlan Lewis: The Myth of Left and Right

"Now we see through a glass, darkly."

The Myth of Left and Right: How the Political Spectrum Misleads and Harms America

By Hyrum Lewis and Verlan Lewis

JMC fellows Hyrum Lewis and Verlan Lewis have just released a new book on party ideology and the ideas of “right” and “left” in American politics:

The Myth of Left and Right (Hyrum and Verlan Lewis)A groundbreaking argument that the political spectrum today is inadequate to twenty-first century America and a major source of the confusion and hostility that characterize contemporary political discourse.

As American politics descends into a battle of anger and hostility between two groups called “left” and “right,” people increasingly ask: What is the essential difference between these two ideological groups? In The Myth of Left and Right, Hyrum Lewis and Verlan Lewis provide the surprising answer: nothing. As the authors argue, there is no enduring philosophy, disposition, or essence uniting the various positions associated with the liberal and conservative ideologies of today. Far from being an eternal dividing line of American politics, the political spectrum came to the United States in the 1920s and, since then, left and right have evolved in so many unpredictable and even contradictory ways that there is currently nothing other than tribal loyalty holding together the many disparate positions that fly under the banners of “liberal” and “conservative.” Powerfully argued and cutting against the grain of most scholarship on polarization in America, this book shows why the idea that the political spectrum measures deeply held worldviews is the central political myth of our time and a major cause of the confusion and vitriol that characterize public discourse.

Order the book from Amazon or Oxford University Press >>



Hyrum Lewis is an Associate Professor of History at Brigham Young University-Idaho. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California and was previously a visiting scholar at Stanford University.

Professor Lewis is a JMC fellow.

Learn more about Hyrum Lewis >>



Verlan LewisVerlan Lewis is the a Visiting Scholar in the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard University. His research, teaching, and writing focuse on how political ideas and institutions interact over time. His work has been published in a variety of outlets, including The Washington PostThe Hill, Political Science Quarterly, Party Politics, Studies in American Political Development, Presidential Studies Quarterly, and Cambridge University Press. Aside from The Myth of Left and Right, he is the author of Ideas in Power.

Professor Lewis is a JMC fellow.

Learn more about Verlan Lewis >>



Facebook iconTwitter iconFollow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates about lectures, publications, podcasts, and events related to American political thought, United States history, and the Western political tradition!



Want to help the Jack Miller Center transform higher education? Donate today.