The Election and Me

by Steve, December 21st, 2007

politicsI never quite know what to say when people ask me about the upcoming presidential election. People are generally well-meaning, but if you know me, you know I haven’t been registered Democrat since the 1984 election (I caucused for Alan Cranston who won me over with his support of the nuclear freeze movement).

So when asked about the current election cycle, I have to assume people want to know what I think of the Democrats. The truth is, I tend to see all of the mainstream candidates, Democrat and Republican, bunched up way to the right of my belief system. Oh sure, there’s Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel, but who really believes they have a prayer?

Anyway, I found this site today that asks you some overly-simplistic questions and matches you up with a candidate.

The questions cover Iraq, immigration, taxes, stem-cell research, health care, abortion, social security, line-item veto, energy, gay marriage, and the death penalty.

My top dog, not surprisingly, was Kucinich, with Gravel as a close second. What did surprise me was that this quiz scored John Edwards the lowest of all Democratic candidates as a match for me, tied with right-libertarian Ron Paul. Which goes to show you how little you can glean from such a simplistic quiz.

For a better view of where I stand in relation to the candidates, I took the slightly more nuanced test at politicalcompass.org. This test will place you on a grid that has the traditional left-right continuum for economics, coupled with a north-south axis for social values, with the top being “authoritarian” and the bottom being “libertarian.” (This may be confusing to some people. The bottom point should be called “civil-libertarian” to make clear the distinction between this and what is known as libertarianism in the US. Ron Paul’s position on the grid is about where most US Libertarian Party acolytes would fall. That is, they are economic libertarians but hold generally moderate social views.)

They provide some context, including placing the 2008 US candidates on the grid. Here’s where I stand:compas.png

So you can see the source of my consternation when people want me to discern between Clinton and Obama. They’re both so far away from me, they appear indistinguishable from one another, and barely distinguishable from the mainstream Republicans.

Politicalcompass.org also publishes this chart for reference, with some more meaningful labels on the endpoints:axeswithnames.gif

I’m glad to share the southwest corner with Gandhi. The food’s better over here, for one thing.

When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it, always. — Mahatma Gandhi

4 Responses to “The Election and Me”

  1. Comment from Terry:

    I took the political compass quiz and ended up just where you ended up –negative nine on economics and negative 7.79 on authoritarianism.

    But as a pragmatist, I’d vote for John Edwards despite the fact that he’s in a different quadrant. Life requires some compromises.

  2. Comment from Steve:

    But why not support Kucinich or Gravel, with the understanding that they probably won’t even be in the race past February?

    Seems like a way to pull the Democratic mainstream to the left, even if just a little.

    Of course, by the time Oregon Democrats have their say, it’s all going to be over, so I guess it’s a moot point.

  3. Comment from SAW:

    Dear Steve, I’m in the lower left block and don’t mind the company, just wish there were more of us who could pull some viable candidtates to the lower left.

    I face the same dilemma regarding what my political views are. I took the same survey you took (an issues survey is not valid unless it contains an education platform, as far as I’m concerned!) The Minnesota NPR survey that this one was extracted from is expanded (includes education questions) and results were significantly different: http://minnesota.publicradio.o.....candidate/
    I’d be interested in your reaction.

  4. Comment from Steve:

    Thanks for the MPR link. I actually saw that when I took the WQAD survey, but didn’t have time to take the more detailed survey. I don’t expect the results to be much different.

    But you are absolutely correct that the survey is incomplete without questions on education policy.