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Thursday, November 1, 2012

On the Political Spectrum

I was having a nice chat with my sister yesterday about politics (something we discuss quite frequently).  It started when I saw in a friend's post on Facebook that I was tagged.  It was a blog post about abortion.  I have many fundamental disagreements with the author which my sister and I were discussing.

Anyhow, our discussion evolved (as many of our discussions do) into a look at different political philosophies and the political spectrum.  Now, most people (if not everybody) is familiar with the idea of the left (liberal) and right (conservative) wings of the political spectrum.  This familiar 2-dimensional version of the political spectrum is convenient, but it is inaccurate in many ways.  It does not take into account that the far right and far left actually have several things in common.  So it seems that a circle might be the best version of the spectrum to show this effect.  I, however, tend to favor more of a diamond.  While this is not the best quiz, the Advocates for Self-Government have an interesting quiz.  It is a little simplistic for my tastes, but it decent starting point.  Another decent quiz is here.  I have also tried this one or this one from PBS and the Pew Research Center.  For the 2012 election, there is a great quiz about the Presidential race from isidewith.com.  There are oodles of other ones as well, so look for several and see where you land.

Anyways, now that I have listed several good resources to look at, I guess should talk about my own.  Personally, I prefer the more nuanced quizzes because they give a better idea of where you lie.  Well that and the fact that the shorter quizzes tend to phrase the questions in such a way as to elicit a certain response.  Unsurprisingly, I am slightly left of center on social issues.  This (I think) mainly stems from my support of same-sex marriage while opposing abortion and espousing several more conservative political side.  Economically speaking, I am much further to the left.  This stems from the social justice teachings of the Church, as well as my own experiences over the past few years.

Before I go any further, I wanted to talk (briefly) about the origins of the 2 sided political spectrum.  It comes from France.  During the 18th century, the French Parliament was divided in such a way that the more conservative members were on the right side of the chamber and the more liberal members were to the left.  Very clean and simple.

Now, one problem with the simple breakdown of the spectrum (in addition to the problem mentioned above) is that as a result of the opposing ends actually agreeing on alot, the ends can be moved around.  For example, many people place fascism on the right side of the spectrum, where it sort of fits, but not really.  In the same way, communism (as opposed to communitarism or communalism) is placed to the left of the spectrum, which some people don't like.  The advantage of the diamond shape from the Advocates for Self-Government is that it gives more of a three dimensional picture of the political spectrum, taking into account that some people may be on one side economically and the other side socially.

Oh, yes I know this has been all over the place, but that is the way I am.  Let me know if you find another quiz you like more or if you disagree with me.