Thoughts of an American Centrist

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

How Conservative or Liberal are YOU?

Wow, I guess I am an American Centrist after all! How about you? I reveal and explain my answers below.

Your Political Profile

Overall: 55% Conservative, 45% Liberal

Social Issues: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal

Personal Responsibility: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal

Fiscal Issues: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal

Ethics: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal

Defense and Crime: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal

My answers explained
Given its brevity, I guess this quiz covers a pretty good swath of issues. Still, I have to take issue with the wording on some of the questions. Here's what I answered and why.

1. Protecting the environment is a primary social responsibility we have, regardless of how it effects businesses.
Not exactly

I chose "True" on this one not because I believe that environmental policy should be ignorant of business concerns (I don't), but rather because I belive in more stringent environmental laws and knew that the "true" choice would put me on the liberal side of this argument. Obviously we shouldn't put regulations businesses without their input, but I don't think environmental policy should defer to short term business interests either. I stand for a progressive environmental policy that does not cripple industry.

2. Immigration policies
Should be less strict. Immigrants enhance this country.
Should be more strict. Too many people enter illegally.

Hmm, I'd like to choose "both" on this one, but I can only choose one. Here's my take: we're a country of immigrants. In fact, immigrants are some of the hardest working members of society. How can I ask other people to keep out and deny them the American dream when my own grandmother came here for a better life just 50 years ago?

At the same time, illegal immigration is a big problem is this country, and enforcement of existing immigration laws needs to be strengthened. In my mind, each answer is correct because they are in response to two separate questions.

3. Gay marriage
Should be legal and given the same rights as heterosexual marriage.
Should not be legal. Marriage is between a man and a woman.

Here's an easy one. What right does the government have in dictating which two consenting adults can marry?

4. Public education could be improved by
Having a voucher system
Revoking No Child Left Behind

Again, how about "both"? NCLB has done more harm than good, and school vouchers could be a helpful tool to help lift motivated kids out of failing schools. I think they could both improve eductation. Since I'm more of an advocate for the voucher program than revoking NCLB, I chose vouchers.

5. If you smoke marijuana...

You should be punished with a slap on the wrist
It's your business

Yay! Another one I'm very clear on!

6. Affirmative action
Gives minorities and women a level playing field
Is unfair, outdated, and hurts those with the most merit

My views on Affirmative Action are quite different depending on whether or not we're talking about the business world or the academic world. In the business world, Afirmative Action is an unnecessary policy that lets businesses give themselves a pat on the back for being "tolerant" and "diverse" while all they are really doing is bringing women and minorities on board that they probably would have hired anyway.

When it comes to the academic world, I think it is time we moved Affirmative Action away from a racial focus and into an economic one. Anyone who excells in a failing school has serious potential. It's time that admissions boards started revering successful students from bad schools instead of dismissing their accomplishments as the least bad of an inconsequential constituency.

Despite the need for change, I chose the first option because I believe there is still a large racial and gender gap in this country. Until we put in place a viable alternative (such as the economic based solution above), an imperfect solution is better than no solution at all.

7. Carrying a gun is:
Taking responsibility for one's own defense, and admirable
Dangerous and sketchy

I don't personally carry a gun, but there's a pretty strong preference in the Consitution for self defense. This one was easy.

8. Some people have less luck than others

This question pissed me off. First of all, of coursesome people are born with more advantages than others. Paris Hilton is quite a bit luckier than a crack baby, and I don't think we could attribute her fame and good fortune to anything but the luck of the draw. However, I answered "false" (which is obviously incorrect) because I was trying to answer the question the author meant to ask instead of what he actually wrote. The author was trying to ask whether or not there are some people who are guarenteed success because of their birth situation, and others who cannot achieve greatness because of their birth situation. That supposition I totally disagree with.

For example, take a look at the last presidential election. The two candidates were born with silver spoons in their mouth. They were lucky and wildly successfully. Their two running mates were both born poor, yet were still wildly successful. The difference is that Dick Cheney and John Edwards had to be much smarter and harder-working to get to where they are than their "luckier" counterparts had to be. But the fact remains: they still got there. So yes, some people are luckier in their born station in life than others, but your birth is neither a limit or a guarantee as to how high in this we can go.

9. Social Security:
Is simply a transfer payment that should be replaced by personal accounts
Can easily be fixed by making the rich and employers pay more

Here's another one of those questions where I would have preferred to answer "neither." I think personal accounts are redundant (we already have provisions for 401(k)'s and IRA's), and too costly to be worth it. Not only that, private accounts will do nothing to affect either short term or mid term solvency.

I chose the second answer because my prefferred multi-faceted approach includes, but is not limited to, increasing the salary cap on payroll taxes, which would have the same effect as the second answer.

10. Taxes should be...
Cut to stimulate the economy and give people more of their money back.
Something the rich pay more of. They can afforded [it].

In general, I'm more apt to ask people to keep the money the earn. In our current situation, however, I think we should roll back the Bush tax cuts. Both the deficit and debt are simply too large to justify keeping a tax cut that didn't really do that much for middle America or the economy.

The second check-box is just silly. The vast majority of Americans support the graduated income tax methd over a flat tax. There's nothing decidely liberal about that answer. Again, we have answers to two seperate questiosn.

11. It's more important for our country
Reduce the deficit and national debt
To help the poor and helpless

Again, what a silly question. Who says that the only way to reduce the defecit is by cutting services to "the poor and helpless?" Which poor and helpless are we talking about? Tsunami victims? Darfur victims? How about the homeless, or the injured? It's really a silly and open ended question that can't be answered by a simple radio button.

12. The Fed should be more concerned with
Controllling unemployment
Controlling inflation

Duh. The Fed's job is to controll things like inflation. It really wasn't designed to control unemployment.

13. The only social responsibility of a company should be to deliver a profit to its shareholders.

I, for one, am disgusted with how eager companies are to slash jobs, cut pensions, and skimp on quality in order to cut costs and artificially drive up share prices. There is a three legged stool of groups to whom companies are responsible: shareholders, employees, and customers. Long term successfull companies focus on all three of those groups.

14. Everyone has a right to health care, even if they can't afford it

While I don't believe we should nationalize our healthcare system, there is simply no valid answer as to why eligibility for life-saving medical care should be a function of wealth.

15. All authority, by its nature, should be questioned

That's the nature of Democracy. If our leaders are going to take action, they'd better have a good reason.

I'm sure this question also applies to religion. In that sense, if your faith can't withstand brutally honest scrutiny and criticsm, then it wasn't a very strong faith to begin with.

16. Abortion should be...
Completely legal and available
Restricted, discouraged, or illegal

Now this is sort of an odd answer set. People who answer "completely legal and availiable" under all circumstances are in a fairly small minority. For that matter, so are people who believe it should be illegal even in cases of rape, incest, and danger to the mother.

The main centrist postions ("illegal with exceptions" OR "legal with restrictions") both fall under the "conservative" category in this answer set. I'm on the side that says "legal with restrictions," so I checked the second box. If there's any interest, maybe I'll lay out my full views in another post.

17. Military action that defies international law is sometimes justified.

I am not well versed on the intracacies of international law. That being said, my generalized view is that American security trumps international law.

18. The war in Iraq is justified

Our reason for going to war was to find WMDs. They weren't there. We really don't have a good reason left. Sure, Sadam was a brutal tyrant, but there are literally dozens more like him (or worse) in this world. We simply can't afford to overthrow all of them.

19. The problem with the US justice system is:
Too many plea bargains and loose interpretations of law
Not enough rehabilitation and prisoner's rights

I snickered at the thought that there was only one problem with our justice system. I didn't really want to choose either. While I agree that plea bargins get some criminals off way too lightly, I didn't like the reference to judicial activism, where I do not share the views of those trying to overthrow our current judiciary system.

As far as prisoners' rights go, I'm not that concerned with the rights of violent offenders like armed robbers, murderers, and child molestors who all to often serve less than 10 years on the inside when most should be locked up for life.

20. The death penalty
Is appropriate in select cases
Is a violation of human rights

We end with an easy one, how lovely.

Wow, so that was a quick tour around where I stand on the issues. Each of these questions merit an entire post to be thoroughly considered in any sort of pensive and nuanced way. This was just a 30,000 foot view. What do you think of the issues here? Take the test, and let me know! (The Pew Research Center also has a good test.) If I get enough feedback, I just may break out one of these issues into its own post!


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