Political Beliefs, Where Are You

Mar 13, 2011 by

Political Beliefs, Where Are You

The below is from:  http://www.nolanchart.com/article7443.html This is the easiest way to see where you on the political spectrum.

First off visit http://www.nolanchart.com/survey.php and take the survey. It is 10 quick questions.  When you are finished there will be a chart, like to the left, that will show you where you are politically. Each of the areas in the chart are explained in article below.

We would like to Thank Walt Thiessen, webmaster at www.nolanchart.com for permission to reprint.

Topic: About the Chart
What Do The Nolan Chart Categories Mean?

Taking a stab at definitions for the words: conservative, liberal, statist, centrist, and libertarian.

by Walt Thiessen
Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I received an interesting question today from two separate readers, one I’ve never previously received via email since the site’s founding.  Doubtless, numerous columnists have raised the question in their own articles on the site, but this is the first time I’ve received directed inquiries on the subject. Both readers wanted to know what the definitions of the words liberal, conservative, centrist, libertarian, and statist are. Here’s what I wrote back to both of them.

Hmm…good question. I don’t have a page that describes each category in the sense that you mean. My intention with the site was and is to use the categories to organize the articles, so that by studying the articles in each category, each reader can gain a sense of what each category means by his/her own judgment and evaluation.

I’m the one who originally wrote the survey on the site. When I wrote it, my intention was to identify the current state of each of those terms in society today: libertarian, conservative, liberal, statist, and centrist. In that sense, I wasn’t trying to define the terms so much as I was trying to identify how they’re used and how people self-identify.

Glenn Beck replaced the word “statist” with “progressive” in his discussion of the survey on his TV program last Friday. It’s an interesting choice. While I’m not opposed to it, I think it’s also pretty clearly true that many liberals consider themselves to be progressive in a “good” way, just as many conservatives consider themselves to be libertarian in a “good” way.

From my viewpoint, I see two ongoing struggles.

First is the struggle for “true conservatism”. Ron Paul-type supporters typically call themselves “true conservatives” by which they really mean mainly libertarian. Yet, they cringe at being called libertarian. Similarly, the Sarah Palin or Dick Cheney supporters see themselves as the “true conservatives”, which also makes the Ron Paul conservatives cringe. The Palin/Cheney camp is often referred to as neo-conservative (meaning “new” conservative) by libertarian-leaners, yet many Palin/Cheney supporters consider the term neo-conservative to be disparaging. I find that reaction intriguing, since neo only means new. To me, the reaction reflects the fact that lots of people have found fault with the idea that big “defense” (really offense) for the U.S. military is counterproductive to the ideals of liberty, and the “new” conservatives bristle at the same suggestion.

Second is the struggle for “true liberalism”. America elected a liberal-leaning centrist as president last year. Look at the struggle within the liberal wing. Just like the conservative side, the liberal side is torn between “true liberalism” which is often called “progressive”, and “pragmatic liberalism” which is more centrist. When the health care measure including the “public option” didn’t clear Congress and was derailed by the loss of Kennedy’s seat in Massachusetts, strongly liberal people threatened to do to Democrats what libertarians are threatening to do to Republicans: withdraw their support.

It’s as if the struggle on the chart is between the upper-right area and the lower-left area.

Yet, even that differentiation doesn’t explain everything going on. From my point-of-view, the entire chart is about the struggle for liberty vs tyranny. That’s the brilliance of David Nolan’s invention, as Beck pointed out on his program the other day.

So getting back to the question: I don’t have the final answer for it. The best I can do is tell you my view of what each word means. Each is a somewhat extreme description, because it’s necessary to differentiate as clearly as we possibly can. My definitions would probably be challenged by a lot of different people, because ultimately there is no agreement as to what any of the terms mean. That’s fine; it’s one reason why we have debates.

libertarian: supports the smallest possible government, supports individual liberty in all ways, prefers to only defend our borders and not interfere in other countries’ affairs.

conservative: tends to give a nod and a wink to liberty while placing emphasis on government control of “family” issues (gay marriage, abortion, borders, etc.) while pushing for major military involvement worldwide by America, in the hopes of creating a faith-based, “conservative” world.

liberal: tends to give a nod and a wink to liberty while placing emphasis on government control of “social issues” (social safety net, minority rights, etc.) while pushing for major diplomatic involvement worldwide by America backed by somewhat lesser military involvement, in the hopes of creating an inclusive, “liberal” world.

statist: the marriage of liberal and conservative aspects of big government. Supports both the conservative “family” agenda and the liberal “social” agenda. Supports both major diplomatic and military involvement abroad.

centrist: somewhere in the middle of all of the above.

They’re not an ideal set of definitions, perhaps, but I think they’re useful working definitions. I hope you find them helpful.

Update, March 11, 2010: I’ve set up a new forum for people to make constructive suggestions to improve the survey’s questions and answers. Interested persons should visit forum.nolanchart.com to participate in the effort.

Update, March 14, 2010: I’ve added a page where interested persons can see how all our visitors who have taken the survey have answered the questions historically. The results are shown as a percentage of overall surveys taken, and the page also updates the total number of surveys taken every three minutes.

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