May 6, 2011
A Friday Quiz and a Few Thoughts on Politics
The Pew Research Center has posted a quiz on political typology, available here. It’s an interesting little quiz. The quiz provides two options, and you are given the following instructions:
To identify your typology group, select one response from each of the paired statements below. Even if neither statement is exactly right, choose the response that comes closest to your views.
As I went through the quiz, and number of the options were quite clearly better or more accurate for me than the others. Those were easy decisions. There were a few, however, that were either both right, in some significant way to me, or both wrong. For instance, the quiz asks you to pick one of the following:
- Government regulation of business is necessary to protect the public interest.
- Government regulation of business usually does more harm than good.
I find both to be highly accurate statements. I would add “sometimes” to modify “necessary” in the first one, and I would replace “usually” with “sometimes” in the second, but I can live with both. So it’s a tough call for me.
Similarly, the quiz provides this choice:
- This country should do whatever it takes to protect the environment.
- This country has gone too far in its efforts to protect the environment.
I am very fond of the environment, but “whatever it takes” is a little much for me. I also don't think we have generally gone too far in efforts to protect the environment, but I do think a great number of our environmental policies go too far (usually because they are ineffective or counterproductive). So this, one, too, was a tough choice for me.
As I went through the quiz, I noted the ones that were close, and I tried the quiz a few times making changes only to the items that were close calls for me. The results for me ranged the spectrum (though not reaching either end).
The quiz reminded me of a 2005 article from Jonathan Rauch, about the makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court near the Roberts nomination. He explained:
No wonder that partisans on both sides speak as if the millennium is at hand. Conservatives expect, and liberals dread, that a new era of aggressive jurisprudence is soon to begin. "Our hard-won rights will be in jeopardy if [Roberts] is confirmed," warned Kim Gandy, the president of the National Organization for Women, in a statement issued minutes after Bush announced his choice. The Economist paraphrases William Kristol, a conservative pundit and strategist, as arguing that conservatives now "have a chance to implement a judicial revolution that will match their economic and foreign-policy achievements."
Or not. A closer examination reveals a more complicated story. Legally, incremental change seems more likely than revolution, continuity more likely than reversal. Politically, conservatives may be in for a surprise: The more conservative the Court, the more divided the conservatives.
Unfortunately, it seems to me that this nuance, on the left or right, can be witnessed largely in political appointments, and not in our election options. And further, I think many of us are liberal in some ways and conservative in others, and are not just nuanced liberals or conservatives.
The current political system thus leads to legislation and regulation that tends to skew left or right in a way that is not reflective of what a majority of Americans would like. For example, another Pew Study (here), found that 87% of those polled favor including a renewable energy mandate in national energy legislation. Further, 66% of the public supports limits on CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions. Along with that, the poll also found that 68% favor expanding U.S. exploration and development of coal, oil and gas. Yet not once have we seen energy legislation that reflects all of these things.
I suppose, in many ways, this is the trade off for a solid and stable government. But, once in a while, I would still appreciate a government that is both more efficient and more representative of the whole.