(You may notice that a large portion of this article is in parenthesis. I’m kind of proud of this, offering so much comment and clarification on my own writing that the parenthesis parts are almost a whole new writing unto themselves. Yay deconstruction of writing structure!)
In case you’ve never been to politcalcompass.org I highly recommend it. It has a very well thought out political quiz that uses the dual axis model of politics (which the site creators claim they invented) instead of the single axis left-right model. Ever since Mekhami introduced me to the site years ago, I’ve taken the test dozens of times, using their model to track my own political shifts.
When I go to the site now, though, it’s usually to see where the site creators place various electoral candidates or parties on their graphs (candidates in the US, parties in parliamentary democracies. The creators are British, as a point of reference). They had an awesome chart up during the primaries covering all of the major, and some of the minor, contenders. Since the solidization of party nominees, they’ve put up a new chart, with Republican, Democratic, Constitutional, Libertarian, Green, and socialist candidates. In addition to that, they have included the VP picks for the two main parties, as well as Mr. Nader. I imagine the reasoning is that as a notable independent, he deserves his own mention. Here’s the chart:
If you want to read the reasoning behind the chart, or to compare candidates to where they were in the primaries, you can see the original here, but I’m not going to elaborate why I think this is more or less accurate. I do want to write a little about what this chart shows us though. Here’s the 2004 chart, for comparison:
(It’s not nearly as pretty, the site was still pretty new at the time)
The second chart is harder to read, because it doesn’t have the overlaid grid to let one be exact, and I imagine no one likes the monochrome color scheme, but I’ll do my best. I bring up the 2004 chart, firstly, to deal with the American right: I’d like to point out that the republicans are running a very authoritarian campaign this time around, even while their economic position appears about the same, maybe slightly left (Feel free to disagree; it’s a stupid ambiguous chart). Bush appears to be around (7.5, 4?), while Mccain is now (7, 6) and Palin is (6, 8). I’m focusing on that second digit (the authoritarian one), for the next couple of paragraphs.
While I won’t say that Mccain is more fascist than George Bush, Bush’s social positions in ’04 were comparatively moderate compared to the current ticket (that should scare you, let me attempt show you why). For comparison, look at the republicans and their respective Constitution-party opponents. CP 2004 nominee Michael Peroutka (lets say 8.5, 8.5?) was noticeably more socially conservative (on the up-down scale) than George Bush, while only negligibly more economically right. In the 2008 chart, Mccain is only about a point away on both scales from Baldwin (8, 7) while Palin is actually more authoritarian than baldwin, up at the 8 mark!
Here’s why this is significant: The constitution party formed out of the idea that the republicans weren’t “pure conservatives,” especially regarding social issues (you know, cause the repubs never actually get around to banning abortion and other pet issues). But this time, the GOP is comparable to the constitution party, which was formerly viewed as the fringe of the American right. Sure Baldwin is slightly more moderate than Peroutka, i beleive that is insignificant. As ideologically motivated as they are, I don’t think that the constitution party isn’t going to move towards the center in any meaningful way anytime soon. Just to repeat the point: the GOP is running a very, very authoritarian platform this year.
And I have to mention, even the Libertarians are experiencing the same upward-and-slightly-leftward shift. The political compass guys explain this point well, but basically Bob Barr (8, 4) is noticeably more authoritarian than the 2004 nominee, Mike Badnarik (9, -2 or some such?). Bob Barr gets credit though, for fighting to make the patriot act less harsh back when he was a republican in congress, and for his dramatic change on cannabis legalization (seriously, look him up. He went from calling it witchcraft to saying that it’s awesomeness incarnate. I think he got experienced, if you know what I mean).
Sorry for spewing so much about the far right, now to the (understandably but frustratingly) centrist democrats! I’m actually a little pleased with this part of the chart, because while the republicans have gone for broke on the authority scale, the Obama/Biden ticket is a little to the left of the Kerry campaign. Kerry was what, about (3.5, 2)? Obama is a little left of that (2, 3), and Biden is (2, 2). Economically, these guys are pretty close to the populist Edwards, who I always figured was about as left as a mainstream democrat could get away with. Keep in mind that I liked Kerry, I thought he came across as recognizing how far right America was while still wanting to help the underdog as much as possible, so I’m very happy with Obama’s position here. Maybe its the current financial crisis, but whatever the reason, if Obama thinks he can go farther than Kerry, more power to him (And Obama has a really good shot at winning, i think a better chance than Kerry had).
You may have noticed that Obama is about a point more authoritarian than Kerry: This is probably because of Obama’s reversal on cannabis legalization and dilation and extraction procedure (affectionately termed “partial bith abortion” by the right wing word game). Like the slight move for the constitution party, I don’t think it’s significant. It is not the same trend as the republicans authoritarian turn, particularly since its only a point or so, and Biden is still at 2.
Now to the (incredibly neglected) American Left: My own precious greens Have remained pretty consistent. Instead of guessing at numbers, we’ll use Mr. Nader as an anchor (since his politics haven’t changed in 30 years and he’s on both charts). Both Cobb and McKinney are slightly up and right of him. I don’t care enough to find out where Nader and the Greens slightly disagree on the issues. Policy-wise, at least, I have long found both to be very tolerant, compassionate, and of course, environmentally conscious, with plans that seems practical and workable in America, but of course remain untested. McKinney is at about (-4, -3) there. That’s really encouraging, given that she’s a former Democrat (In case you don’t know, she was a representative from Georgia for 12 years).
Disclaimer: much as I like McKinney on the issues, as a person, as a politician, and just overall as a nomination pick, this year is going to be close, and I don’t believe the Greens accomplish anything going for this top down approach (local elections first! Build a movement from the ground up. It may take fifty years, but I don’t see any other way). I live in a potential swing state (Virginia), meaning my vote may actually mean something. And as I said earlier, Obama has given me a slight bit of respect for the dems this year, so I’ll be voting democrat in the presidential run. Should the opportunity for green party building in terms of state or local elections arise, however, expect me to be the first one doing the grunt work.
That leaves Brian Moore (-8, -3), the Socialist Party USA candidate. Like the others libertarian-left quadrant, the socialists have been consistent since the last election (2004 Brown looks like he was also about (-8, -3)). I just don’t see such an extreme economic policy working smoothly in America, but Moore is a very grounded guy, and he’d probably say the same thing. Personally I like Moore, in interviews he’s said he knows he won’t be elected and he’s symbolic. When he entertains the hypothetical “what if you were elected,” he seems to have a decent plan for transforming America, and for working with a predominantly capitalist congress. He sticks by his ideology though, definitely not a sellout. Like I said, I like him, and I wish he was in a different position to make a real difference in the world.
By the way, diversity is all over the place this year, and not just with Black Obama and female Palin. Cynthia McKinney is a black woman (once again, you should’ve known this, she was in congress) and the socialist VP Stewart Alexander is black. Nader has arabic heritage doesn’t he? The libertarian ticket remains all white male, and the constitution party rides a fine line between probably racist & sexist and openly racist & sexist, so naturally, they’re the other white male ticket.
I might update this later; I really love political compass and have more to say, but I have shit to do now.