I came upon the website iSideWith yesterday. It’s been around since 2012 and it allows you to answer a bunch a questions and then see how well you agree with the different political parties and presidential candidates. Well, you know me: I love tests that tell me that I am who I think I am. So I answered the roughly 90 questions and got my results. And as should come as a shock to no one, I agreed most with Bernie Sanders and the Democratic Party.
The test provides much more than that, however. It gets more interesting as you drill down. The people behind iSideWith clearly like this kind of stuff as much as I do, so they provide a lot of information. For example, they have a whole section of “polls.” These are basically just the results of particular questions on the iSideWith quiz. For me, this was the most depressing part of the whole thing.
For example, 81% of the people who have taken the iSideWith test think that people should have to show photo ID to vote. Another 86% want term limits on Congress. And 73% think people on “welfare” should be drug tested. I picked these three issues because they are ones where facts really matter. There is no in-person voter fraud; term limits tend to make politics more corrupt; and people on “welfare” are less likely to do drugs than people who aren’t. (Also: why don’t we drug test the people on the mortgage interest deduction welfare program?)
After you take the iSideWith test, you can compare your positions with those of the candidates and the parties. I didn’t find that very useful because I know where the candidates stand. But I think this would be very helpful for people who don’t follow politics all that closely. And I think Bernie Sanders supporters could be helped a lot because they are likely to get results that are very similar to mine:
Now, I know: this is an imperfect way to determine who you ought to vote for. For one thing, iSideWith has me siding much more strongly with the Democratic Party than with the Socialist Party. I suspect that if we got into a serious discussion of capitalism, we would find that I was actually much more in line with the socialists. But the quiz does a good job of including those issues that are inside our Overton window. And in that context, I think the quiz is quite useful.
Bernie or Bust?
So it shows I most agree with Bernie Sanders. No surprise there. But I agree with Hillary Clinton almost as much as I do Sanders. And I agree with her as much as I do Jill Stein. And I wonder how many of my fellow Sanders supporters will actually vote for Stein over Clinton? People are wrong when they say a vote for Stein is a vote for Trump; it isn’t; it is a half vote for Trump. And I think that most Sanders supporters will come out something like me. The question is: with Clinton at 95% and Trump at 24%, is this really an election that you should sit out?
It’s funny. Even that 24% agreement with Trump is something of a myth. For example, on the question of whether labor unions help or hurt the economy, I said they help it. (I don’t think this is open to debate.) But according to iSideWith, Trump agrees with me, because Trump says labor unions, “Help, in theory but have recently become corrupt and should have their powers limited.” To me, that says he thinks they hurt the economy. They are already powerless and he wants to limit them even more?
Regardless, go over to iSideWith. You can take the quick test (Clinton was above Stein in that one, and Trump was only at 10%), or you can take the longer test by answering the optional questions. Let me know how you come out. If history is any guide, yours will look a lot like mine.
Here is how I scored on parties:
- Democratic: 96%
- Green: 92%
- Socialist: 86%
- Libertarian: 51%
- Constitution: 9%
- Republican: 5%
That was fun! I got:
I’m disappointed with myself that the libertarians rank so high; but I suspect it’s because libertarian “official” candidates and platforms aren’t as far right as libertarian-leaning GOP voters/politicians.
Like with anything, some of the multiple-choice answers didn’t include one I was happy with (I skipped those) and sometimes I wanted to be able to pick more than one answer. But all-in-all a fun thing. I found myself clicking “more” for every question just to see what the options were.
Incidentally I matched most with Stein on economics (no shocker) and most with Sanders on immigration. That DID surprise me because I really don’t know what Sanders’s immigration policies are!
A big problem with libertarians, and one of the biggest reasons I abandoned them, is that their rhetoric is a lot better than their policies. Look at how militaristic Rand Paul got in order to win the nomination. There are a lot of good ideas that libertarians have about things like privacy. But once in power, all those things fly away and you are left with a straight conservative. I thought it was funny that I got 51% for libertarian, because that’s about right: half their rhetoric appeals to me.
I think I got boned on the “Confederate flag on government property” question. I responded “only at sites where it’s historically accurate.” I didn’t mean state capitols! I meant, like, government-run historical parks! I hang around a historical US fort, and the flag has the wrong number of stars — because it should. That answer got me Trump/Johnson points. Really fun quiz, though.
There are always going to be problems like that. I think a bigger issue is what questions aren’t asked. There was nothing like, “Capitalism is an inherently unjust system that should be abolished.” So I see the whole test as really about details. It would be interesting to put together a test that really probed where people are.
“term limits tend to make politics more corrupt”
I’m not a believer in term limits, but how exactly do they make politics corrupt? It’s not that I doubt it, I’m just trying to figure out the mechanism. Maybe that newer, less experienced politicians are more likely to need to suck up to moneyed interests?
I believe that’s partly it. The big reason, I think, is that it reinforces the idea of politics less as a public service and more as a career stepping stone. Of course this probably is a problem for more Democrats than Republicans. Republicans basically think political office is part of their “real job” application to begin with.
New politicians are more desperate for money. New politicians are more dependent upon corporations to “educate” them about policy. I’ve always had a great fondness for Willie Brown. He was certainly corrupt in his way. But it was a way that I’m much more comfortable with. He was his own man. Think of Mr Smith Goes to Washington. In the real world, it wouldn’t be his secretary explaining things to him; it would be a lobbyist from Monsanto.
But I don’t have any studies to back me up. It would be interesting to look for some though.
I found my results interesting but I didn’t check anything else so this was fun to learn.
Well, as a Clinton supporter, we all know you agreed with Donald Trump 85% of the time — and Sanders 10% of the time.
There was real talk (and excitement) that Sanders was going to skydive into his rally today in (nearby) Cloverdale. But when asked, his campaign apparently said, “You’ve got to be kidding.”
And here we thought he was trying to be QEII.
How Happy and Glorious it would be!
Clinton: 96% (but slightly lower than Sanders)
Sounds about right. But:
“You side moderately (64%) towards “Environmentalism”, meaning you believe in sustainability, environmental protection, and improving the health of the environment. This theme is most important to you.”
“Moderately?” The only thing I can think of is that I’m not bothered by GMO’s, but I don’t think that makes me less than a strong environmentalist.
It’s strange how certain issues become symbolic. I’m with you: I don’t care at all about GMOs from a health perspective, but I’m very concerns about them from an economic standpoint. But this kind of nuance is not really available in a test like this.
Did you monkey much with the scale of the questions: whether it was slightly or very important to you? That might affect it too.
I also noticed that sometimes I came down on the “conservative” side of a question, even though my reasons and implementation were far left.