Friday, October 07, 2005

A rare political post

One week ago today, while I was in Chicago, I had the pleasure of going to dinner with my sisters and their significant others. As is not uncommon, the discussion turned a little political. As has happened in the past a few times before, my younger sister's SO accused me of being a liberal but being afraid to admit it. What irritates the hell out of me about such accusations is not being called a "liberal," but rather the implication that I would be somehow too self-deluded or too craven to admit such a change. It's the same reason the occasional similar charge that I'm an atheist but just won't admit it yet also irritates me.

I realize, of course, that yanking my chain a bit was probably what he was shooting for when he made that accusation, and that's just part of the whole give-and-take of our occasionally contentious jousting. Yes, there is no doubt that I'm not as "conservative" as I used to be (whatever the hell the word "conservative" means anymore these days), thanks to the theocrats and free spenders who have taken over today's "conservative" movement. However, by no stretch of the imagination could I be considered a liberal. At least so I thought and still think. Indeed, over the last few years, I've tended to like to look at myself as an old-school conservative, such as the kind that Kung Fu Monkey described in I Miss Republicans, a fiscal conservative with libertarian tendencies who's a realist. (I tend to agree with David Touretzky when he said, "I'm a libertarian with a small L. The Big-L libertarians are anarchist loons.")

So what's an aggrieved conservative and RINO to do when faced with such a charge?

Why, take a pointless Internet politics test, of course! And the results are...

You are a

Social Liberal
(63% permissive)

and an...

Economic Conservative
(63% permissive)

You are best described as a:

Centrist










Link: The Politics Test on OkCupid Free Online Dating
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

There, now. Isn't it nice when a silly web political test confirms what you've said about yourself all along, that I tend to be fiscally conservative but more liberal in social areas? And it's even consistent with the results of the other silly web political quiz that I took back in March. I bet it's even scientific!

The bottom line is that "traditional" political descriptions of right and left seem to be breaking down these days. They were always rather simplistic to begin with, but with the group in power today they've become totally inadequate to describe what is going on now. We now have an ostensibly "conservative" President who does some of the most un-conservative things you can imagine. He creates huge new entitlements and bureaucracies, while promoting government intrusion into the private business of citizens through the Patriot Act. He has launched a preemptive war under the most dubious of rationales and committed this nation to a massive nation-building project, leaving our military stretched so thin that we'd better hope like hell that nothing bad happens requiring a major troop commitment elsewhere. He spends our tax dollars like the proverbial drunken sailor, and keeps running up enormous deficits through a combination of massive spending and massive tax cuts, going from record surpluses to record deficits in record time. Instead of limiting the power of the federal government, he has presided over a massive expansion of its reach. Robert Samuelson got it right when he said that "Bush has taken the most self-serving aspect of modern liberalism (its instinct to buy public support with massive government handouts) and fused it with the most self-serving instinct of modern conservatism (its instinct to buy support with massive tax cuts)." Meanwhile, in a historic reversal, it is the Democrats who have become the party of fiscal responsibility and sanity. Worse, now that Republicans have had control of the House for over a decade, they have become just as complacent and corrupt as the Democrats were before they were so justly kicked out in 1994.

Is it any wonder my political leanings seem a little confused from time to time?

Well, now, that was relatively easy. What might not be so easy is if I ever decide to take on the other contentious topic that we had a somewhat heated discussion about. Fortunately it wasn't about politics. Unfortunately, it was about faith.

ADDENDUM: I just noticed that, for some reason, the graphs come out looking different on Safari than they do using Firefox. On Firefox, I'm at about a 45° angle towards the Libertarian end, near the the edge of the "centrist" circle. On Safari, the graph puts me right on the horizontal axis, even slightly below it. The Firefox version of the graph is closer to my true leanings. Hmmm. I wonder if it's a nefarious plot by Apple....

I'm going to have to see how the results render on a PC using IE...

18 example(s) of insolence returned:


At 10/07/2005 10:22 AM, Blogger Andrew E. Mathis said...

Surprise, surprise: I'm a socialist, deemed overwhelmingly socially liberal.

 

At 10/07/2005 10:48 AM, Anonymous Mark Paris said...

Turns out I'm a democrat: social liberal (75% permissive), and ecnomic liberal (28% permissive). But saying that 28% permissive is an economic liberal sounds backwards to me, unless you are defining liberal and conservative according to popular name-calling standards. There is no good reason to say that being economically permissive is in any true sense "conservative." In fact, I do not see that economics has much to do with conservative vs liberal. I think the right wing has just co-opted the term to justify the uncontrolled power of the wealthy. Isn't it ironic that the most famous campaigner against monopolies was a Republican?

As to libertarians, I think the current Libertarian Party is just a bunch of Republicans who are embarrassed to admit it. People like Neal Boortz (talk radio host in Atlanta) are loved by the Libertarians, but for some strange reason he almost always comes down on the side of the current Republican Party. (With a few notable exceptions, like agreeing with a court ruling that including "under God" in an effectively school-enforced pledge is unconstitutional.) MBut maybe the current Libertarian Party is not really libertarian, just like the current Republican Party is not really conservative, or even Republican in the traditional sense.

 

At 10/07/2005 11:15 AM, Blogger nolo said...

Another socialist here. Social liberal (80 percent permissive) and economic liberal (15 percent permissive).

 

At 10/07/2005 11:45 AM, Blogger Alice H said...

You ended up fairly close to where I did - my percentages were higher but I was also labeled a capitalist.

I have to wonder about any poll that puts John Kerry just about in the middle, though.

 

At 10/07/2005 12:17 PM, Anonymous Dave Harmon said...

The problem with these tests is that they rely on absolute dualisms. Adding a second axis doesn't make them less dualistic, it just makes them dualistic on two fronts. ("Well, you're OK on social stuff, but all wrong on that economics.")

This attitude is based on, literally, infantile psychology, wherein anything that isn't part of "me/us" is part of "you/them". But in this infantile dualism, there can be no overlap, and everything must be in one category or the other.

For example: Since GWB is categorized as "Godly" (prays, listens to God, in charge of the country, etc.), therefore anyone who disagrees with him must be "Satanic". And "everyone knows" that terrorists are Satanic, and so are child-molesters, so anyone who disagrees with GWB is obviously a child-molesting terrorist.

The history of science is largely a story of getting past these dualisms, to seek unifying principles which cover a broader scope of reality.

For some classic examples of dualisms unified: Newton found a set of rules which covered both falling-body motion near the Earth, and also planetary motion in the skies. Wohler's synthesis of urea demonstrated the unity of inorganic and organic chemistry. Pasteur demonstrated that "spontaneous generation" (of life) was really the inconspicuous propagation of pre-existing lifeforms. Einstein pointed out (among other things) that energy has mass and is affected by gravity, just as was already known for matter.

Consider that the most consistent finding of science is simply that everything really does fit together -- what E.O. Wilson called "consilience". To grasp this essence of scientific understanding, it is *mandatory* to outgrow infantile dualism. But some people don't *want* to grow up....

 

At 10/07/2005 12:24 PM, Anonymous Dave Harmon said...

PS: If you want a principle to unify those "social" and "economic" axes, try "balance of power" in light of systems theory...

 

At 10/07/2005 12:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, it's 78% Socially permissive and 35% Economically permissive. I landed right on the top of Hillary's head in the famous people plot. Yikes-if I could pick someone to emulate it probably wouldn't be her!

JH in NJ

 

At 10/07/2005 1:33 PM, Anonymous Susang said...

Surprise, surprise, I'm a Socialist. On the celebrity map I landed right on Bono's head! Not a bad place to be, all things considered.

 

At 10/07/2005 1:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm Canadian, and, surprise, surprise, I tested as socially and economically liberal. I agree with Dave Harmon on the value of such fluff, and would like to add that some of the questions asked about multiple entities but only allowed for one global answer.
VKW

 

At 10/07/2005 3:27 PM, Anonymous Skeptyk said...

Socialist here, all socially liberal and economically whatever it said. I am, at heart, an anarchist, all 'No gods, No masters!' and think that the contract, voluntarily entered into, is the basic, best social and economic unit.

However, since I guess a government of sorts is needed for the common good and for the welfare of those unable, permanently or temporarily, to make contracts, and such, than it would be a social democracy with a constitution that protects individuals' rights, a proportional representation like a parliament, maybe, and some serious economic conservatism, meaning campaign finance reform, national health service, getting out of debt, investing in long-term prospects, such as renewable energy, basic research in all sciences, and early, frequently reviewed, scientific medical care.

I think I want to live on one of the neutral worlds slumming under the protection of the United Federation of Planets (Star Trek: The Next Generation era).

And I want my own holodeck.

 

At 10/07/2005 4:31 PM, Blogger Ahistoricality said...

I was surprised to come out socialist on first go, so I took it again and barely managed to move to the Socialist/Democrat borderland right between Gorbachev and Hilary. I think the borders on the ideology chart are odd: the disconnect between socialism and totalitarianism could only have been drawn post-Cold War....

 

At 10/07/2005 5:28 PM, Anonymous Eric Wallace said...

It seems to me that people take on a political label like "liberal" or "conservative" based more on their perceptions of the "other" group than on any strong identification with their own. For example, you identify a few gradations within conservatism with which you are comfortable coexisting (okay, maybe not comfortable, but you haven't cast off the label yet), while simultaneously asserting that "by no stretch of the imagination could I be considered liberal".

Well, given that you scored 63% socially liberal, it doesn't seem that great of a stretch to me.

So I'm curious: what exactly do you think a liberal is?

 

At 10/07/2005 11:20 PM, Anonymous Dean said...

I came out as an economic liberal (33%) and social liberal (66%). I'm not surprised by the social, but I thought myself more of a centrist as far as economics. Mind you, I am Canadian, so that probably biases things. That said, I was just outside the centrist circle anyways. I was a lot more closer to the centre on another test I took a couple of years ago.

 

At 10/08/2005 7:18 AM, Blogger Pierce Wetter said...

The graph is wrong...fascists aren't actually historically right wing, even though we like to think of them that way. The Nazis were the National Socialist Workers Party for instance. All of mussolini's ranting about how "corporations" should run things actually referred to labor unions....

 

At 10/08/2005 11:40 AM, Blogger nolo said...

Pierce, the only way anyone could possibly convince themselves that the Nazis and Mussolini were leftists is by (a) calling every movement that proposes placing central control over the economy in the hands of the government "left wing," regardless of whatever else the movement may have espoused, or (b) making a fetish out of the fact that the Nazis used the word "socialist" as part of the party's name. Both, however, are whopping big fallacies. I'd go into a deeper explanation of why, but I think the Wikipedia entries for Nazism and Socialism cover it pretty well.

 

At 10/09/2005 5:02 AM, Blogger Kristjan Wager said...

"The graph is wrong...fascists aren't actually historically right wing, even though we like to think of them that way. The Nazis were the National Socialist Workers Party for instance. All of mussolini's ranting about how "corporations" should run things actually referred to labor unions...."

Pierce, while both the Nazis and Italian Facists had their roots in the far left, they were not in any sense left-winged. To say that tehy were, shows a frightening lack of historical and political knowledge.

It can be argued that all totalitarian political systems shares more than their political position would indicate, and in that sense that Stalinism and Nazism is similar. However, the tools used to reach the totalitarian state are very different, and where Stalinism's tools are entirely rooted in Communism, the tools of Fascism and Nazism are entirely rooted in Capitalism and other right-winged ideologies.

It seems a common mistake among right-winged American to always refer to the "Socialist" part of the German Nazist party, while the focus should actually be on the "Nationalist" part.

 

At 10/10/2005 12:32 PM, Blogger beajerry said...

I've always thought the president should select a vice-president from the opposite party.

I don't know what good it'd do, but it'd be fun.

 

At 1/07/2006 1:15 PM, Anonymous OHenry said...

At one time communities would seek counsel from the elders on matters of import. More experience usually translated into lessons learned. Having survived my share of crises, I am still around to share a thought or two. The main lesson is to never stop learning. Reading is good as is seeking other points of view and new ideas like visiting your blog. Finding what is ultimately important leads one to appreciate actuality, efficiency and mindfulness. Helping others to see some of the forest through the trees is another. mindfulness

 

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