Monday, October 28, 2013

The Real Political Spectrum

Libertarian Dave Bergland was speaking to some school kids years ago. He asked them, "What would someone be considered if he believed in legalizing pot?". The class responded "Left". Then, "What if he believed in gun ownership?". The class responded "Right".

Then, "What if he believed in both legalizing pot and gun ownership?". That left the class with no easy answer using a left/right paradigm.

At that point he said, "Left and right doesn't really fit, does it? How about this?". I'm not sure what he did as I was listening to a recording, but I''m sure he brought out either the Nolan Chart, or the World's Smallest Political Quiz. That's one version of the Nolan Chart below:

In short, it points out the left generally allowing for more personal freedom but not so hot on economic freedom. The right generally believing in more economic freedom than personal freedom. But that's too simple because some believe in even less or more of both. Statists (authoritarians) believe in little personal or economic freedom and libertarians believe in lots of both  economic and personal freedom.

Personally, my feeling is the left generally doesn't believe in personal freedom as much as the charts would suggest- gun control, for example- but I'm sure there are some on the left that actually fit in the left sector than further below.

There's various quizzes available that will show you your place on the chart depending on your answers and, no, I don't score 100% libertarian on the WSPQ. For one thing, I'm not a supporter of open borders.

The World's Smallest Political Quiz seems more likely to move someone more toward what is the Statist section on the Nolan Chart.  The link takes you to a questionnaire that will calculate your score, but you have to add the scores yourself. I'm unable to access the Advocates for Self Government web site whose chart automatically calculates your score as you answer the questions.

The Who Should Decide version of the quiz is more likely to move someone into the Libertarian section if only because most people believe in making their own decisions. I've actually given the same people both quizzes at gun shows and most score more towards libertarian when asked who should decide various things: You or the government?

Does this have any bearing in the real political world right now? Maybe, but probably not. Most people still think of politics in black vs white, good vs. bad, red vs. blue and us vs. them.
As far as my own politics- am I left, center or right?- I like to think of myself as the guy in the middle as I often find myself taking sides with either left or right. Depends on the issue. Have to be careful with that as generally I see "moderates" as adopting the more repressive policies of the left and right, rather than their more permissive ones.

I also have a relatively long history with the right having been a registered Republican for much of my life until I switched registration to Libertarian in '92. I have been registered libertarian ever since with no plans on changing.

As I told someone yesterday, I suppose if I were to align myself with either side it might well be the right since from my personal experience I've found more common ground with some of them than I have with the lefties. That's assuming you can get past their partisan loyalties. 

After all, from which side do we hear the most vitriol regarding either libertarians or the Tea Party? The Left. I've heard a lot of references from lefties lately calling the Tea Party "nazis". One even referred to them yesterday in the Santa Rosa Press- Democrat as "authoritarian". This, because the Tea Party calls for less government and taxes (rolling my eyes)? 

Clearly those on the left are more the enemy of freedom overall as a group. Which isn't to say some don't support some freedom oriented issues. And when they support an issue supporting individual liberty, I'm more than happy to stand with them. 

The anti- panhandling ordinance in Arcata, for example. I was fully behind fanatical partisan lefite Richard Salzman's attempt to stop it. He's hated by most on the right, and for good reason. That made no difference to me. On that issue I stand with him.

The Right has its share of authoritarians as well. In fact, one fairly well known Republican was scoring straight authoritarian on the World's Smallest Political Quiz before I had him stop answering the questions (I didn't want him to happily declare himself an authoritarian). Yet, even with him there are some common issues we can stand together on. Not many, but some.

I'm willing to stand with with either left or right on issues of mutual concern. On other issues I may end calling either or both sides "Them".
I actually first registered to vote as a Libertarian back around '73ish after I'd turned 18. Back then you had to write in the party name on the registration card. It wasn't a recognized political party in California yet having just been formed in 1971. 

I'd read about the party in the Los Angeles Free Press earlier on when I lived in Southern CA. They described it as a party of peace, love and hippiness (my words). Sounded neat so I signed up as soon as I could register to vote.

Not long after that I was reading an article in U.S. News and World Report, or some other magazine, about the late Roger MacBride. The article discussed him and the Libertarian Party saying the LP was, to paraphrase, "...composed mostly of ex marxists...". Wanting no part of that, I switched to Republican as soon as I had the opportunity and stayed with them for 18 or 19 years. 

I would have considered myself a moderate Republican during most of that time. You can read how I ended up switching to the Libertarian Party here.


At 12:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fred, which mainstream politician most closly exemplifies your political position? Possibly Chris Christie or Rand Paul?

At 3:01 PM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

Good question. I'm not sure I've ever tried to figure that one out.

I can't think of any Democrats that would fit. Chris Christie? Absolutely not. Rand Paul, maybe, except I'm not sure just where he stands. He seems to bounce around a lot trying to satisfy different interests.

Ron Paul might have been closer, although not ideal.

Not sure you'd consider him mainstream, but Gary Johnson is the past 2 term Governor of New Mexico and the Libertarian Party's most recent presidential candidate. If I were to pick I'd go with him. I might not agree on everything with him but close enough.

At 8:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

According to that chart, why call yourself a Libertarian? Why not just call yourself the embodiment of "freedom" whatever the hell that means. Its like a chart for a fat person where all arrows point to more KFC.

At 5:01 AM, Anonymous democraticJon said...

Fantastic post Fred. That was alot of work and it shows. You know I'm going to disagree with a bunch of it and the crux of my disagreement is with Anon @ 8:52.
Busy this am, more later.

At 2:00 PM, Anonymous democraticJon said...

That doesn't sound right. The crux of my disagreement is that I AGREE with anon 8:52


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