Friday, September 7, 2012

Who Am I Anyway? A Political Identity Crisis

A waving American flag atop the United States ...
I am a registered independent. I have not decided whom I will cast my vote for in November.

I am steadfastly independent, and take pride in that position, yet I am dismayed by pundits on TV (and there have been a lot lately) who characterize independents as people who can’t make up their minds, as individuals who are uncertain of their convictions, as the “undecided.”

Anyone who knows me knows that I have no lack of opinions or positions. I am rarely swayed by popular opinion, non-issues, or negative campaigns.

While watching the Republican National Convention on PBS last week, mention was made of a Pew Research Center political party quiz. I decided to take it – perhaps it would help me decide where I belong politically. You may want to try it too – it’s just 12 questions.

The initial results were no surprise – my views are most closely aligned with the “average independent” – I was right smack in the middle. But I thought that odd, as I selected “strongly agree,” or “strongly disagree,” on most questions. (Again, I tend to have opinions.) So I dug further.

I clicked on the “on economic issues,” and “on social issues” buttons, and surprise, surprise, I am not in the middle at all. It turns out I am very conservative on economic issues – more so than the average republican. At the same time I am very liberal on social issues – more so than the average democrat. I am nowhere near the middle, uncertain, or undecided.

Where is the candidate that represents me?

I can’t imagine a future United States that doesn’t include same sex marriage. I can’t imagine a United States that isn’t a melting pot of varying cultures and religious beliefs (including the choice to not believe). At the same time I can’t imagine a future United States without a vibrant (debt-free) economy, where enterprise, innovation, and capitalism thrives. Call me idealistic.

Most of all, I believe that everyone is entitled to their own opinions. When did our political parties (and their candidates) become so polarized in their views? The problem with the Pew political party poll (and perhaps with our two party political system) is that it’s missing an axis. Individual beliefs (at least mine) can’t be accurately characterized on a single left-right dimension. Where do you fall?


Mark T. Kennedy said...

interesting. ditto on the social issues, slightly less so on the financial ones. the parties don't 'get' us.

Steve in POK said...

Voting for Ross Perot will tell you where I am coming from. I consider myself an Independent-Conservative but I tend to view issues on a one-by-one basis trying to understand the positive and negative sides of the question then making a decision. That's why when responding to polls I am very unlikely to respond Strongly Agree or Strongly Disagree; there are always shades of gray (maybe not 50 tho.) Unfortunately most of our national level candidates tend to be all in or all out.

Dave E said...

Ha ha, I am so liberal I am only just on the scale in any category. I probably make President Obama look like a Republican!

Joanne Tombrakos said...

I think Madeline Albright said it best for me when in response to the Republican platform on women, "... I can't understand why any women would vote for Mitt Romney, except maybe Mrs. Romney."

I have lots more to say but for now will leave with the link to the full article :)