Sunday, February 03, 2008

Primary candidates on the Political compass: results.

Hi folks,

My friend Michael Fountain just posted this little horror up in his blog:

Most of the political candidates in this year's election fall into the authoritarian/right category of the Political Compass.

Mapped against each other, they come out like this: [click for a clearer image]

Drop by Michael's and have a look at his comments and find out how to take the test yourself.

Somehow, I ended up on the libertarian left sandwiched between Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, and the Dalai Llama.

Not a lot of hope for political success in my Dixie-chicken universe, clearly.



Timmo said...

Prof. Peterson,

The Political Compass is very useful! It does a much better job at mapping out political geography than does the one-dimensional left-right spectrum.

It is also very useful for illustrating how American politics occurs within a very small region of the space of all possible political views. And, for those people who fall outside that narrow area -- myself included -- it shows that your conviction are at odds with the received views of the dominant parties of this country.

It would be interesting for the Political Compass to provide statistics about people taking the test. In particular, where on the compass do most people taking the test fall? I suspect that we will find that most people occupy positions outside the narrow range of contemporary American political discourse.

Sadly, those boundaries are rigidly enforced by powerful social institutions in this country. For example, Dennis Kucinich, one of the few politicians in the race who does not share the authoritarian ideals of the other candidates, was simply denied the opportunity from participating in one of NBC's debates. Indeed, NBC defeated Kucinich in court just to keep him out of the debate. As you may recall, Obama, Edwards, and Clinton spent their time agreeing with each other at the debate -- just check out NBC's headline for that day about the dems finding common ground. It was a stark and disturbing example of the allowed range of disagreement in our current politics!

My fellow contributor at Thalesian Fools, EJ, wrote a persuasive piece "Ditch the Dems", in which he argued that we lefties must force the democrats leftward by sinking their efforts in elections.

Mpeterson said...

Hey Timmo,

Nice to see you. A great piece over at Thalesian Fools. Thanks.

The Democrats have been driving me nuts for years. I'm fond of saying I haven't seen a real Democrat since Jimmy Carter was President -- pretty much the last time I saw a real conservative too, before these Friedmanian economic Falangists took over the Republican party.

I'm even more astonished at the degree to which the media have been neutralized by the political status quo. I'm listening to coverage of the Super Tuesday horse race tonight -- and not a word appeared anywhere in the alphabet soup of news channels regarding what any of these folks actually believe or what kind of policies they support.

Too hard for the voters, clickers in hand, to follow without checking CineMax late night for a quick distraction?

We have a wonderful snow storm here tonight. The weather down there in Indiana looks fierce. Today is Mardi Gras and suddenly gumbo seems more urgent to me than the election of the President of the United States.


ej said...

Great article. Prof Peterson, I share your frustration at the fact that the media don't cover candidates' positions on the issues in their election coverage, but just focus on whose campaign is raking in the dough, who is ahead in the polls, who is "viable," etc. And when candidates' positions on the issues are covered in the news, the coverage is usually focused on the candidates' rhetoric regarding the issues, which is generally sapped of substance. Instead of substantive arguments about policies, we get banal slogans and platitudes. This kind of coverage helps to maintain the status quo, since if people actually knew where candidates stood on the issues, they might realize that (1) they're not really in agreement with the "viable" or "mainstream" candidates, and (2) that there isn't really a whole lot of difference between the two major parties.