In politics, many people are consider "rightists", "leftists", "right of center" or "left of center". Specifically, in the US, The Republicans are "conservatives" or "right of center" whereas the Democrats are "liberals" or "left of center". But, what is this "center" anyway?
There are two types of "centers". The first is the actual center, the second is the average. If US politics were moved to Canada or England, the Democrats would most likely be "right of centre" and the Republicans "ultra-conservative". If the US was a fascist state the Republicans would be "leftists". But being the US is where it is, the Republicans fall on the right side of the center, and the Democrats the left.
In actuality, however, the US itself is "left of center". The Republicans are actually "centrists", and the Democrats are "leftists". If the Libertarian party was run by mature people it'd be Rightist, and the National Taxpayers Party (or Constitution Party, or whatever they decide to call it today) would be fascist. The Socialist Party would be "supra-liberals" (it seems to be that "ultra" is never applied to liberals).
But, what is the definition of "left", "center", and "right"?
In my view, a centrist wants to keep the status quo. A rightist idealizes individual rights, that is, having a state only use its power where necessary. A leftist idealizes collective rights, that is, having a state use its power unless there is no benefit.
So, the Libertarians wants to have the State only do defense but leave the people alone, makes them rightists. The Socialists want the State everywhere, making them leftists. The Democrats want some individual rights, but high taxes and a great deal of regulation and welfare, makes them in between center and left. Republicans want to keep many regulations, taxes, and some welfare, but want to move towards less of it all, makes them centrists, leaning to to the right.
Or something like that.