The inept federal response to the coronavirus pandemic, and the needless deaths of thousands of people, have gotten me back into writing about politics. My first piece back was about Bernie Sanders. While I still think it needed to be said, I don’t want to be negative all the time. This is a time where any idea, from any corner, could save someone’s life.
To better understand how I can help, I should probably better understand my own position on the political spectrum. And what better way to gain insight into oneself than an online quiz! The quiz is The Political Compass, a fairly well-known political test. In describing itself, the website states
Our essential point is that Left and Right, although far from obsolete, are essentially a measure of economics. As political establishments adopt either enthusiastically or reluctantly the prevailing economic orthodoxy — the neo-liberal strain of capitalism — the Left-Right division between mainstream parties becomes increasingly blurred. Instead, party differences tend to be more about identity issues. In the narrowing debate, our social scale is more crucial than ever.
People of good faith can disagree on this point, but I’m fine with accepting this premise to take and use the test. Enough preamble though, on to the results!
Pretty far to the left as it turns out! But I was very surprised that I scored so close to the bottom of the chart- so far, in fact, that my test results put me into the “Left-libertarian” category. I’ve never thought of myself as a libertarian (although a good friend has been trying to lead me down the path- you know who you are!), although I suppose the title could apply to my social views. As long as you’re not hurting anyone, I don’t care what anyone does. I mean that in the most apathetic sense of the phrase. I just don’t care about other people’s sex lives or anything else.
I don’t have any real antipathy towards government authority though, which seems to be a requirement for political libertarianism:
Libertarians want people to be able to live peacefully together in civil society. Cooperation is better than coercion. Peaceful coexistence and voluntary cooperation require an institution to protect us from outside threats, deter or punish criminals, and settle the disputes that will inevitably arise among neighbors—a government, in short. Thus, to criticize a wide range of the activities undertaken by federal and state governments—from Social Security to drug prohibition to out-of-control taxation—is not to be “anti-government.” It is simply to insist that what we want is a limited government that attends to its necessary and proper functions.Cato Institute: https://www.cato.org/blog/are-libertarians-anti-government
I don’t have a problem with the federal government expanding its authority beyond what’s written in the Constitution, through Congress. I think it has to because it’s so difficult to amend the Constitution. Yes, I have complaints about federal authority under President Trump, but no dislike for government’s authority in general. In fact, I would support the government expanding its authority in this crisis to save lives; I’m not sure how compatible that is with libertarianism. I also support ideas like the government paying for all healthcare.
This quiz isn’t the end of the journey simply because it gave me a label. The next step is to understand it. I’m going to read the whole left libertarian wiki page. Then I’m going to learn about some other labels, and see if maybe they fit me a little better. The point is to ground myself in some actual ideas so that I’m not only writing about what I don’t like, but more about what I do like and what I think will help.