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PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
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My Turn: What is your political compass heading?

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From page A4 | July 31, 2013 | 8 Comments

I have met thousands of people in my course of campaigning and they would ask me about my political ideology. Am I conservative or liberal? I told them I am in the middle. I would question them about their ideology. Some would state that I am very conservative. Then I would ask them, “Do you believe in women’s reproductive rights?” Of course I do was their response. I would scratch my head. What about same-sex marriage, I would ask? Every adult has the right to marry the person of their choice they would say. I would scratch my head a little harder. Similarly I received the same responses with people who stated they were very, very liberal. You are very liberal but you believe in a free marketplace, I would ask. Yes, they would reply.

I wondered how people came to their own personal political identity. Or was it the politicians, political parties and constant ad campaigns that were twisting voters’ thoughts? People I talked to did not take the time to examine their social and economic ideology. Many ended up voting for someone who did not necessarily represent their true political ideology, their political compass heading. I had to explain it to them.

It is too simple to say my political ideology is left or right, unless you are referring only to your economic beliefs. And liberal or conservative status is not a good describer for the complex political system we have in California and the United States. For example, Gandhi and Stalin were both left of center on economic issues. Their social beliefs could not be further apart: Stalin an authoritarian, Gandhi a libertarian.

The political compass is an X-Y axis — social (authoritarian-libertarian) and economic (left-right). It is similar to the Nolan and Pournelle charts. A simple 61-question test can be taken at politicalcompass.org. A “-10″ to “+10″ score along each axis is then computed. Minus scores indicate a left or libertarian ideology. A plus score is authoritarian or right ideology.

I suggest people look closely at the four quadrant charts, “decide where you might be,” take the test and compare results. Take your time. Give each question your undivided attention. Your answers are completely confidential, and no one has access to your results except you. If you choose to forward your results to me, state only your numerical results. I will graph and post the results in the publication where this column is published. Ask your elected representative or candidate to also take the test and make the results public.

I talk about my political ideology a lot; I have to, I was a California legislative candidate. There was no surprise to me at my .88 left/right and -2.62 authoritarian/libertarian score.

I am not sure that voters know what their true political heading is. Compare your personal test results with the person who now represents or wants to represent you at the federal, state or local level. If they are close, then your representative is probably voting the way you want. If not, you are voting in the wrong person.

Elected representatives and candidates rarely tell the voters everything they should know about their political ideology. They are however, experts at polling and surveying the electorate and saying what the voters want to hear. I urge you to use the tool to find out where your elected officials and future candidates stand.

The test and the charts I mention above have been criticized by several groups but it is generally considered a useful tool by political and social scientists. A note from the author: This is an informational tool that allows voters to make more informed choices when election time comes around. And have fun!

Mark Belden ran as an independent for the District 5 Assembly seat acquired ultimately by Frank Bigelow.

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Discussion | 8 comments

  • Dink LaneJuly 31, 2013 - 11:38 am

    Very interesting perspective. But you are asking the voter to use his or her critical-thinking skills. That's what the (R) or (D) is for, so they don't have to.

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  • cookie65August 01, 2013 - 6:16 am

    Dink, groupthink replaced critical thinking years ago. Did you see where NBC is already planning a movie to endorse and propagandize hildabeast for her next run? Those who depend on Hollywood propaganda, made up nonsense like, war on women, war on education, war on immigration, war on the poor, war on the environment, tax breaks for the rich, push grandma off a cliff, aren't exactly looking for people to exercise critical thinking skills. Tell me about the critical thinking skills of those who voted for obama based entirely on race or those who will vote for the beast based entirely on gender. My political compass is easy to define, I am anti-leftist. I passionately opposed to the left turning America into Detroit. Everything the left knows, supports and endorses has been road tested in Detroit, the results speak for themselves. Detroit is what happens when government and unions get their way.

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  • NancyAugust 01, 2013 - 8:48 am

    Cookie, excellent post. Personally, I gave up on our government when Obama got re-elected. I'm still a Conservative but I believe our government has failed us completely and the only thing left is to ask God to heal our nation. Therefore, I pray that he will do that and I will also vote the Bible from here on.

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  • cookie65August 01, 2013 - 12:02 pm

    Here is an interesting story. The elitist celebrities are using up essential nutrients necessary for the medical care of premature babies. G-5 leftists looking out for the children. http://wtop.com/267/3406718/While-celebrities-beautify-babies-die

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  • Dink LaneAugust 01, 2013 - 12:03 pm

    The one thing that has Republicans and Democrats in agreement ..... is the danger of LOSING the 4th Amendment: "Our right to privacy." I used my critical thinking skills and listened for myself .... to the Senate hearings on the NSA (Boy did the News Media get this one WRONG) ...... My blood turned cold when I heard the Deputy Director of NSA, Inglis, tell the Senators .......... that after seven (7) YEARS collecting 400 Billion bits a DAY on U.S. Citizens that they found 54 'Possible' Suspects and in that 54 "Hits" only 12 made contacts to 'questionable networks' and of that 12 ONLY one (1) was found to be a terrorist ........... The "Subway bomber" that British Intelligence had already informed them about 2-weeks earlier...... They did NOT see the "Underwear Bomber," the "Detroit Bomber" the "Times-Square Bomber" and not even the "Boston Bomber" in this wide NSA sweep of OUR privacy....... (Everyone of these terrorists had overseas communications numerous times.... What the Patriot Act authorized...not U.S. Citizens here.) What are we giving up OUR Privacy for? ...... It does matter: If you called your doctor twice for two days and then made two calls in the middle of the night, that tells the collector something about YOU -- EVEN if you have nothing to hide.... Yes, Inglis said they SHARE this information with the FBI and others (Who?) ...... It's time to start using our critical thinking skills and STOP the Anti-Obama or Anti-Republican mantra and be PRO-AMERICAN. If we lose this, it is REAL Tyranny.

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  • Dink LaneAugust 01, 2013 - 12:05 pm

    One more point..... How did the News Media have a complete report... down to high-school records on Snowden within 12 hours of his name released? You think this data is being used to Just find Terrorists?

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  • DB SmithAugust 01, 2013 - 4:41 pm

    How come we can't see a complete report on our very own President? What's to hide?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Dink LaneAugust 01, 2013 - 5:07 pm

    It probably looks just like Dick Cheney's.... Lots of redactions...

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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