Example with a context (Vox news story: The real costs of Donald Trump’s anti-Mexican slur controversy, explained):

Remember that Trump first flirted with running for president in 2000 — when he championed universal health care and a tax plan to the left of self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders. But by the Obama era, there was a much bigger media economy in conservative, Tea Party–style resentment politics. So that's where Trump went. In 2012 he went so far as embracing birtherism to keep himself in the news, before ultimately deciding not to run after all.

What does that exactly mean? I don't think I understand it.

  • 4
    The health care and tax plans Trump championed in 2000 were more radical -- farther to the "left"-- than even what is favored by Bernie Sanders, who frankly proclaims himself to be a socialist. Jul 10, 2015 at 13:12
  • This list may be useful: macmillandictionary.com/thesaurus-category/american/…. Jul 10, 2015 at 13:21
  • To anyone who (like me) is perplexed by other aspects of the text, I just discovered that birtherism is pejorative US political slang for the belief that Obama isn't a native-born American (so he's not eligible to be president). Jul 10, 2015 at 14:00
  • So Trump trumped Sanders.
    – TimR
    Jul 10, 2015 at 14:30
  • @TRoman Yes; but he subsequently reneged. Aug 6, 2015 at 12:59

2 Answers 2


Traditionally, the political playing field is divided in a left and a right side.

What each side means changes over time and between countries, but in general, right is conservative, left is progressive. That is a gross over-simplification, though.

Socialism has traditionally been placed on the (far) left side of the field, so any plan that would be to the left of a socialist politician would be even more left-wing than the usual ideas of that politician.

There are two implications here: that the plan that Trump supported was extreme left-wing, and that Trump, who as an upper-class capitalist would be expected on to be on the right side of the political spectrum, either didn't understand what he was supporting, or was possibly being a hypocrite in supporting the plan.

That last idea is supported by the mention that some years later, he went over to the side of the (far) right-wing tea party, and that his choices of what to support were not made because of his ideals, but simply based on what got the most media-attention.


In political terms "left" implies socialist, while "right" implies conservative (of the particular stripe of that country - "left" in the US is still more like conservativism in much of Europe).

A health care and tax plan more to the left of Bernie Sanders would be one that was more socialist (i.e. more inclusive, one where the government takes a greater share of the national income and redistributes so that the poor are better taken care of instead of encouraging people to make their own arrangements).

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