Saturday, January 06, 2007

Political Quiz

Check out this really awful quiz on your political leanings. (A number of other bloggers have linked to the quiz, which Eugene Volokh, among others, feels is pretty dumb.

I'll defer to Prof. Volokh's criticisms (which I whole heartily agree with) of the ambiguities and other specific problems of individual questions. I wanted to post to point out that quizzes such as these are precisely what is wrong with political discourse in this country today. It's not so much the bi-polar nature of the quiz as it is the worldview that one's political views can be so neatly packaged. As I've mentioned time and time again, take any controversial issue and you'll find individuals whose positions seem to defy their self-identified labels. For instance, there are pro-life liberals and there are pro-choice conservatives.

The problem with a line that runs from extreme liberal to extreme conservative is that libertarians like myself can end up scoring virtually the same as populists who support government regulation in both the social and economic realms. Two politically distinct individuals could both score a 20 on this sort of political quiz even when they answered every single question differently. And to call both those individuals "moderates" when they don't agree on anything is beyond ridiculous.

All the recent talk in the blogosphere about "liberaltarians" and the move of some libertarians away from the Republicans and to the Democrats is simply another example of intelligent people falling into the same political trappings we've been force fed for years. Rather than worrying about whether Democrats or Republicans are the lesser evil, libertarians of all stripes should work on changing the political discourse in this country. In the end, the conservative and liberal labels are based not so much on one's positions on all the issues, but on the issues that individuals find to be important. To go back to abortion, neither pro-choice conservatives or pro-life liberals are likely to rank abortion as very high on their list of priorities. Libertarians need to replace the traditional liberal/conservative dichotomy with a dichotomy that has freedom on one end and authoritarianism at the other. After all, both conservatives and liberals are arguing for some sort of regulation that libertarians oppose. If libertarians can just position themselves as the political philosophy of "more freedom," maybe we can actually convert some of the free market liberals and individualist conservatives.


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