Go down, not left !

Bob’s post about liberty reminded to to finish a post I started about 3 years ago.

Most people think of politics in terms of left and right. In America, there are liberals and conservatives and anyone in the middle is a moderate.

This is a gross over-simplification and distorts the political discourse in many ways but the most assidious is the assumption that, if you are one side, people on the opposite side will have the opposite view.

For example, Andrew Sullivan considers himself a conservative and at least once a week he points to some policy of the Bushies that he does not like and claims that if it is this bad under the Republicans, imagine how much worse it would be under the Democrats.

I consider myself a liberal but I find myself agreeing with Sullivan’s political views rather more often than the simplistic left/right model of politics might predict.

Political CompassThe ideas at the Political Compass help resolve the paradox. The Political Compass posits two axes – the usual left/right one plus an up/down axis that represents authority/liberty.

I took their test and it put me at [-6.13, -6.82] in the bottom left quadrant along with Mandela, Gandhi and the Dalai Lama – in the opposite quadrant to Bush & Thatcher. I’d guess that Sullivan is in the bottom right quadrant so it wouldn’t be surprising to find that we often agree on matters of liberty.

So here’s the thing. Almost everyone I know who thinks about politics is below that line. Even two friends who consider themselves conservatives are below that line (they were both closer to the vertical axis than they expected too).

I understand that I live in an odd part of the country – people are more educated here, more liberal and more individualistic than the country as a whole – but my hunch is that there are rather a lot of us around. If you believe the myths about the country’s founding, being below that line is what made America in the first place.

The Dems have had a helluva time in the last few elections distinguishing themselves from the Pubbies. Whenever a democrat speaks up for social justice, they are slammed as Tax and Spend liberals. Meanwhile, the self-proclaimed small-government conservatives are in open revolt as this Congress and this Administration are headed so far up the chart they are getting nose bleeds.

So, here’s my free advice to Howard Dean and the gang –

Go down! Not Left!

For completeness, here are some prominent international figures on the same axes. Go take the quiz. Let us know where you end up.

Politicians Compass

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Ragged Clown

Based in San Jose, California

10 thoughts on “Go down, not left !”

  1. I agree with your thesis.

    You got some survey questions wrong, though. The best answer was 5.0, -2.82. My guess is that we differ WRT “Always question authority” to which I said “Disagree” because it’s just not practical, but that’s likely an artifact of my screwy overly-literal interpretation of things. I’d be fine with strongly disagreeing with “never question authority” if that clarifies.

    I also think the kind of rampant wiretapping we have today is bad MOSTLY if you have something to hide, because I don’t believe our gov’t will fall down the slippy slope so far that it has such practical consequences that it becomes a net negative. We can agree to disagree I hope 🙂

  2. I think you are right in there with Ayn Rand. BTW Just started reading Atlas Shrugged. Maybe I’ll be joining you over at Lower Right?

  3. I bought the fountainhead, but the movie came on TV and I saw 3/4 of it. It wasn’t at all what I expected – the sense I got was more about the responsibility of individuals to fulfill their potential. Individual greatness is noble sort of thing. I probably missed a good deal of the point with my half-assed exposure but it wasn’t my cup o tea. I was expecting more, hence the book hasn’t made it to the top o my stack.

    I’d be very interested in your review of Atlas Shrugged. I’ll throw another log on the fire and fluff the cushion in the empty chair here next to me on The Lower Right in hope that you might be coming by. I’d offer to have a beverage waiting, but I’m particulary unsure as to what to pour for you. Coffee is probably safe and reasonable, but could be sub-optimal. Jamaican Blue Mountain I think.

  4. Your free advice to Howard Dean: Go down! Not Left!

    is not compatible with:

    “Most people think of politics in terms of left and right. In America, there are liberals and conservatives and anyone in the middle is a moderate.”

    If Howard Dean and gang “go down not left”, they’ll be called flip-floppers. Until most people understand that politics isn’t just left and right, your free advice is worth every penny 🙂

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