I’ve taken a variety of quizzes to see how they assess my political views. Some quizzes are fairly simplistic and rate the level of your agreement or disagreement with leading political figures on the issues in your national political sphere, which I’ll admit is a fairly interesting and useful way to do it, and can help people understand to what extent they agree of disagree with their candidates on the issues of importance to them.
One I took recently was at ISideWith, a pretty well-designed quiz to help folks figure out which U.S. Presidential candidates they agree with on the issues. If you’re in the U.S. it’s a pretty good quiz to take, and if you are not voting in the U.S. elections it can still be fun just to find out how crazy you think we Americans really are. The obvious limitation of this quiz is how narrow its scope is, but it also has a number of advantages such as including various positions that allow you to express more complex political views and the ability to rate the importance of an issue to you. This could be handy in case where a person is generally in favor of fiscally conservative policies, but thinks that saving us from an ecological catastrophe is much more important right now. That’s the sort of thing most political quizzes don’t take into account. This particular quiz says that I am in agreement with Ron Paul on 88% of issues, but that’s not quite accurate and is a result of some of the limitations of the quiz.
An old favorite of mine is the the Political Compass, which provides a hilarious and partially accurate description of this election season. This quiz uses two axes, on which are measured your views related to economics and personal freedoms. This quiz seeks to determine your attitudes more than specific policy positions, so for those who have policy positions which are at odds with their personal feelings about an issue, it tends to skew the results. Also, the quiz does not assess what level of government involvement you would like to see on particular issues. Nonetheless, it can be very useful for getting a general sense of where you are in relation to the political positions of others because it is fairly broad-based and not tuned in the exclusively to the tiny U.S. political spectrum. Although it is fairly said that it does operate within the framework of issues faced by Western industrialized nations. Below is an example of why I mention that it’s not accurate that I agree with Ron Paul on 88% of issues.
You’ll notice that while the Political Compass maps me in the same quadrant as Ron Paul, and it’s certainly the case that I’m closer to Ron Paul (or Gary Johnson) than many of our other politicians, I’m also not all that close to Paul. I’m much farther to the left and somewhat more libertarian in my approach to personal freedoms than he is according to the political compass. Granted, the compass skews me farther left and slightly less libertarian than I actually am because of the nature of the questions, but neither of those facts move me any closer to Ron Paul. It just moves me to a slightly different spot that is also far away from any of the others on the map. I should be in the middle of the right libertarian quadrant.
Of course, neither of these quizzes attempt to measure accurately some of the fuzzier variables like our beliefs about an ideal culture, our moral priorities, or level of acceptance of involvement of the state in achieving a particular goal. For quizzes that are willing to try to get at those hard to reach places in your political thought, you might look at the C4SS quiz or The World’s Smallest Political Quiz. The 3-Axis Quiz is also interesting. Their builders have an obvious ideological bent and other limitations, but since you can easily tell what those are with a bit of browsing, that shouldn’t be too bothersome. For example, my position on the WSPQ is obviously very extreme because of the small number of questions, which questions are used, and how they are phrased. Because my views are complex, a simple representation will always be inaccurate to some degree.
That said, there is much to gain from letting yourself think outside the box of Republicans vs. Democrats when it comes to political reality, because in all honesty they both occupy the same fairly small portion of the political spectrum and their differences are minor when considered in light of the true range of possible political positions. Let’s at least not be quite so myopic when it comes to politics, hm? I don’t ask that you stand outside the box. Just that you’re aware of the box and the things outside of that box.