The strangest thing has happened. In April of 2020, right at the beginning of the pandemic lockdown, I published a post called Where Am I on the Political Spectrum. At the time, I thought it was a throwaway post. I wanted to post something, but couldn’t think of anything, so I took an online politics quiz to see where I wound up. Most of that piece was just about how off I think the quiz was. The thing is, that has become one of our most popular and enduring posts.
Don’t ask why people keep finding and reading it because I have no idea. Maybe I stumbled on a perfect SEO situation and haven’t figured out how to duplicate it since. At the end of that post, I suggested I might write an essay about my realistic placement on the political spectrum. It took me two and a half years, but here is that post.
I often joke that I don’t fit anywhere on the political spectrum. If pressed, I say I’m a Democrat. I am registered as a Democrat, mostly because I want to vote in primaries. And I almost always vote for Democrats, mostly because the Republicans are anathema to me. Even though I’m a registered Democrat and vote Democrat, it’s not a comfortable fit.
I wish I could call myself progressive, but the progressives are too conservative for me. I’d call myself a leftist but left and right are blunt instruments that don’t describe anything very well. Besides, I don’t pass the leftists’ purity tests. I’m certainly not an anarchist or a libertarian. I think, in a lot of ways, libertarians are worse than Republicans. I don’t think the word liberal means anything anymore and neoliberals are as bad as libertarians. And, this should go without saying, I am not a conservative, either is the modern American sense or in the traditional sense.
One of the big reasons I don’t fit is that no matter how radical I might be, I am not a socialist or a communist. That’s not to say I’m an ardent capitalist either. I firmly believe that we just don’t have as much control over the economy as we think we do. Economies are like languages. They are giant webs of conventions. Things only operate as they do because most people believe in these conventions. No one can make a declaration that eliminates these conventions. The Soviet Union, the Federal Reserve, and others have tried and failed. We are in capitalism (maybe) right now. When enough people stop believing in it, it will change, but probably not into something we can predict.
At the same time, I’m not saying we should leave the economy alone. There are things we can do within the conventions. We should be working to curb abuses. I want to see trust busters run the government. I’m pro union and pro public utilities. The privatization of utilities is one of the worst things to happen in my lifetime. I’m for free trade, but I think domestic companies that do business in foreign markets need to follow the laws of the foreign market or the domestic laws, whichever are stricter. I also believe we should be working towards the abolition of work and that money is outdated.
In non-economic matters, I basically believe that everyone (and I mean everyone literally) should be housed, healthy, and happy. It’s abhorrent that there are more vacant homes in America than there are homeless people. We need universal healthcare, and the government and insurance companies have no place in healthcare decisions. Those are up to the individual, hopefully in consultation with a doctor. We also need open borders. In general, I think freedom is overrated, but freedom of movement is one of the most important.
Speaking of freedoms, I’m vehemently anti-gun. I’m pro free speech/expression. I don’t care all that much about freedom of the press, and there should be rigorous safeguards on the press because a good press is more important than a free press.
I think climate change is real and we’re causing it and we need to do a lot more to both stop it and mitigate the damage it’s causing. I would slap a $5-$10 per gallon tax on gasoline. I would make public transportation easier to use and go to more places. Plus, public transportation would be free. Bike and pedestrian safety would also be key. I would make it harder to fly. All new buildings should be equipped with solar panels and be heated with geothermal. The government should pay for anyone who wants to retrofit their home or business with these technologies.
In other environmental matters, I think that noise and light pollution are a big deal. We should be working on ways to curb them. Species diversity is a good thing. Partly because I believe it acts as a natural firewall that can stop the spread of pests and diseases. And I have mixed feelings about invasive species. On the one hand it bothers me when people purposely introduce a species that disrupts an ecosystem. But I also think some amount of movement is natural.
I am a prison abolitionist. We should be focusing on crime prevention rather than punishment. Prison itself is cruel and unusual punishment. I’m anti-drug and anti-alcohol, but I believe they are medical issues and should not be part of the criminal justice system in any way. As long as we have a voting system, I think voting should be required and extremely easy to do. If that means voting online, I’m all for it. Plus, all campaigns need to be publicly funded. It should be illegal to spend one’s personal fortune on getting elected. Although, I would prefer a lottery system to voting any day of the week.
So, that’s a brief outline on where I am on the political spectrum. Or at least where I stand on some of the important issues. I’ve written about a lot of these things in other places (hence all the hyperlinks). This is very high level, but if anyone is interested, I’d be happy to delve into some of the detail in the future.