Saturday, September 29, 2012

Political Leanings and Civic Dialogue

In a previous post, I encouraged people to take a short survey to find out which candidates running for office had views most similar to their own. This survey is useful to get people thinking about why they support one candidate over another and whether such support is actually warranted. But the survey doesn’t help the average person to understand their own political perspectives in a meaningful way.

It was for this reason that I exhorted those who were interested to take the Political Compass survey that’s also available on line. It’s a bit more involved than the “On the Issues Survey” and from past experience I’ve found that the typical college student is unable to interpret some of the questions. But this survey, when completed correctly, has the possibility of shedding light on one’s true political leanings in a way that can help clarify exactly where one stands on social and economic issues.

First things first. Take the test, answering the questions as honestly as possible:

Political Compass Survey

When you’ve completed the survey, you will get your results that place you along a spectrum in terms of your social and economic views. Socially, people are either more authoritarian (socially conservative) or more libertarian (socially liberal). Economically, people are either further to the left (economically liberal) or further to the right (economically conservative).

Political Compass Scale
Here are my own results from taking this survey:

Results for Mike Russo
As you can see, I am fairly libertarian (socially liberal) in my social view, and also fairly far to the left (economically liberal) in my economic views.

Now take my nemesis Lance B. Dowd’s results:

Results for Lance B. Dowd
As you can see, Lance is fairly authoritarian (socially conservative) in his social views and somewhat far to the right (economically conservative) in his economic views.

Based upon these results, you could assume that Lance and I would never see eye-to-eye on almost any issue, that we would almost always vote for different political candidates, and that there would be very little possibility of political dialogue between us. Our worldviews are just too dissimilar. But if Lance was either more libertarian in his social views or further to the left in his economic views, fruitful dialogue might very well be possible between us.

My own experiences engaging in political argumentation on the Occupy Wall Street site seem to bear this idea out. I’ve had wonderful dialogues with economic liberals who I might disagree with on social issues, but we could at least agree that our current economic system is causing harm to working families. I also have had some great conversations with libertarians who were fairly far to the right on economic issues, but we agreed on the importance of defending civil liberties.

The point I’m trying to make here is that I believe the current left-right divide in this country is far too simplistic and often gets in the way of fruitful civic dialogue. A survey like the Political Compass one forces people to separate their social views from their economic views and thus paints a more nuanced picture of the political leaning of different individuals that might allow intelligent civic discourse—rather than typical partisan rancor—to occur.

So take the survey, and let us know your results and how you feel about them. 

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  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I'm glad that you are giving the conservative position an equal shake. You New Yorkers may think that everyone is a liberal environmentalist atheist, but this is not true. Most people in the great American heartland are much closer to my position on political than yours.

    Vote for the only TRUE CHRISTIAN candidate running for President this year - THE REVEREND TERRY JONES.

    Read my post on this topic and gain the wisdom you need to vote the RIGHT WAY:

  3. 50% Rocky Anderson

    I was surprised because I thought I was more conservative

  4. My results were tied between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney at 38% and Virgil Goode and Paul Ryan at 35%. I agree that I am tied between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney because I agree with both of them, but with different ideas.
    Katie R.

  5. Many of the questions on this test appeared to be simultaneously hypothetical, in the air, and pertaining to an event occurring in the present time that contradictory answers seemed appropriate.


    After Completing The Survey It Seems I'm In The Middle Of The Political Views, With More Of A Lean Towards The Authoritatian, & Communist Side ( Viva Fidel ) Lol, I Personally Feel My Views Are A Mixture Of All Sides, & Have A Bit Of Flexibility, Yet Have A Stronger Belief In The Side I Leant Towards. Hopefully You Could Explain It Better Dr. Russo, As I Was A Bit Confused, But Hopefully I Read It Right. If Me Being In The Middle Of Them Is Right, I Feel I Like My Views, They Aren't Too One Sided. They Have, As I Mentioned Before; Flexibility, Yet I Have Views That I Favor.

  7. Hey mike, I took the political compass survey and found out that i am a left wing libertarian, my results were very similar to yours. I was surprised to find out that none of the 2012 candidates were compatible with my views when i searched the chart for the candidates.

    April Troiano

  8. For most tests and surveys similar to this one, my results always end up in the middle. My opinions either vary pretty evenly between left and right or wade somewhere in the middle of the two. None of my results from these tests ever seem to surprise me.

  9. Hey Mike,

    What a ball game last night. How bout those Yanks? I liked the political compass test and found it pretty useful in understanding what my political and social views were exactly. My result was a liberal leftist. Gandhi had similar views and I agreed with many of the decisions he made for the betterment of society.

  10. Professor,

    I was surprised to see how I scored on this test. I came up as a Left wing upper half but overall towards the middle. I am very conservative and a little harsh in my views. Honestly I was not expecting this at all. I will play around with this and see how it changes but the it was interesting.


      Hola Mike, I was a bit suprised by the results because I thought I'd be more authoritative. I wasn't so suprised to see that I was right in the middle of left and right views.


  11. I thought i'd be more of a leftist but im on the right side of the spectrum pretty close to the left. On the social scale i am a libertarian and on the economic scale i am authoritarian.
    -Rebecca Desormeaux


    I am not too surprised with the results. I am towards the left socially, but more authoritarian. I am almost exactly in the center, which did not surprise me.
    Josephine Fealey

  13. Professor,
    I am quite surprised at my results. My political stance tends to lean more conservatively when it comes to social and economic issues. The results from this survey concluded I was placed in the upper left hand corner. This position indicates my answers were categorized as authoritarian and leftist socially. I felt this survey helped the user to highlight the main discrepancies between the political parties.

    Thanks, Nicole Garizio

  14. I personally thought that some of the questions were a little too broad or open ended. The results targeted me smack in the middle of the chart, although I know where my political and moral beliefs stand and don't agree with the outcome of this test.

    -Christian Romanelli

  15. Hello Mike. I placed Economic Left/Right: 8.12 and Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: 5.69 which makes sense because I affiliate myself more with Romney than with Obama, but I believe that the questions were definitely way too broad and general and not very specific with the choices.

    -Anthony T

  16. On the political compass survey i was pretty far to the left both socially and economically. Actually i wasn't that far off from your own results. It didn't surprise me at all. I guess i'm a liberal type of person.

    -Darian J

  17. On the political compass survey I places Economic Left/Right: 2.00 and Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -0.92. I do not think my political and moral beliefs were well represented by my results.
    -Chris G

  18. On the survey, I was left -2.75 and Libertarian -1.44. Compared to other important figures in history, I was close to Gandhi. I believe that these results are correct in what I believe in.
    -Katie R.

  19. I landed on the economic left/right scale -3.75 and on the libertarian/authoritarian scal -.97. I did expect these results because I consider myself to somewhat conservative. I agree with what Christian was saying above some of the questions were too open ended for the choices.

    -Mike Rahn

  20. so it seems im more of a libertarian than i thought. I guess that is understandable since we seem to agree socially, but i probably wont support the libertarian party. Its just not worth it, and while we agree on some issues i dont exactly feel like align myself with the party. i think ill just stick to being an independent.
    alex v