A little less than a decade ago, shortly after the time when I’d come to question virtually all of the ideological assumptions common within the U.S. (and in the Utah conservative Mormon community in which I’d been raised in particular), I came upon a fascinating website, PoliticalCompass.com this site provided a fairly extensive quiz to plot your ideology on the political grid (one axis being the liberal-conservative spectrum, the other being the authoritarian-libertarian axis). I took the quiz and found myself right here.
I realized that my challenge to conventional Utah politics wasn’t just an example of my contrarian streak, but the result of a fundamentally different ideology from that of most of my Utah Mormon peers. Indeed, it was different from most U.S. politics, period.I had been baffled by the outcry among conservative champions about the liberal descent of the U.S. at the hands at the Democratic party. After all, the Democratic party’s positions were little different from that of the Republicans. The mainstream DLC Democrat was (and is) just as likely to pander to corporate interests, promote corporate globalism with institutions such as the World Bank, the IMF, the WTO and NAFTA, encourage government intervention in social issues like marriage, and (a few years later) fall all over themselves to get tough on terrorism with the Patriot Act and the vote to authorize the president’s invasion of Iraq. They are the examples of the extreme liberalism which is such a threat to the “American values” of the conservatives? I just didn’t see it. Few of the Democrats (Paul Wellstone and Dennis Kucinich were the only ones of which I was aware) took stands even remotely resembling those of Ralph Nader, whose agenda greatly appealed to me, let alone radicals such as Noam Chomsky or Howard Zinn.
The Political Compass helped confirm my doubts. As it evaluated the candidates at the time, it listed virtually all high-profile Democrats in the conservative/authoritarian quadrant, only slightly less conservative and authoritarian than the high-profile Republicans. The 2000 primary field is no longer shown on their website, but those for the 2008 election are.
As it shows here, almost all the Democratic candidates are once again listed on the conservative/authoritarian spectrum. That bane of Republicans, Hillary Clinton, is listed as the most conservative of the Democratic field (with ample cause, as any liberal Democrat or Green party member will tell you). For the most part, we in the U.S. don’t even know what liberalism is on the scale of most of the rest of the world. The spectrum of thought here is generally speaking so narrow, its frightening.
I’m comfortable with the ideological company I keep here in the liberal/libertarian quadrant (Kucinich, Nader, Chomsky, Mandela, Gandhi, the Dalai Lama). This is why I am confident I am a “true” liberal.
(The other great resource for understanding my place in the liberal camp? Moral Politics, by George Lakoff. This book put liberal thought into a coherent perspective, one which I share, and one which I found to be most consistent with the perspective taught in the Gospel. When I read it a few years later, it only confirmed my comfort in the Liberal label.)
Go ahead, take the quiz. Where do you fall on the grid?