Which Way Do You Lean

March 4, 2010

- See all 31 of my articles

Rather than focusing on the many subjects I could have this month.  I felt that I had to share this information because I enjoyed learning about myself.  I hope that you’ll take this survey and really enjoy learning more about yourself too.

I hear the terms liberal, progressive, conservative and libertarian a lot in the news today.  Last week, while watching Glenn Beck, I took a survey that helped to (generally) place you in a category based on your political ideals.  If you’re interested in where you fit based on answering 10 questions, I suggest taking this survey:


This will help confirm your beliefs, but could also leave you with several questions.  Allow me to explain.

I’ve always considered myself a hardcore conservative.  My brother-in-law once sent me the following pic to use for my web postings which I believed fit perfectly.


 [Editor’s note: image is from http://www.thoseshirts.com/hcr.html]

After taking this survey, it confirmed my conservative ideals, but it also indicated that I tent to lean somewhat libertarian as well.  At the end of the survey, it informed me that my selections indicate that I’m a Conservative Libertarian.  That was news to me.  That immediately concerned me though.

We all have our generalizations about groups and I’m no different.  I started wondering if that meant I needed to grow a beard, buy a cabin in the mountains and start stock piling fertilizer.  A libertarian?  When I think of Libertarians, I always thought of Ted Kaczynski, aka the Unabomber.

It helped reading information on several sites explaining what that meant for me.  Here are some general definitions as I understand them.

Libertarian – The word I would use to describe Libertarians is freedom.  I see their main stance is that they want to be left to do what they want as long as they are not harming anyone else.  They believe everyone else has the same rights that they do.  They are based on tolerance and acting responsibly.  One site used the phrase live and let live to describe Libertarians.  They believe in very limited government and don’t like government meddling.  Like Conservatives, traditions do play a big part in their ideals.  Think of the Gadsden flags, I think they fit closely with this group.

Conservatives – I believe the word of focus here should be tradition.  Conservatives believe in maintaining the values and beliefs that we have traditionally held.  In God We Trust should be on our currency, 2nd Amendment Rights, use of force (military) to maintain peace, marriage is defined as a union between a man and a woman, etc.  Conservatives much like Libertarians believe in smaller government, lower taxes (trickle-down economics), strong (traditional) family values, etc.  Government is there out of necessity and it serves a purpose but it should not tell us how to live or restrict our freedoms.

Liberal – I would describe liberals as focusing on inclusion.  Liberal ideals believe in providing a good life for everyone.  They aren’t fans of the traditional values that Conservatives value and they look to make the world more inclusive for everyone in spite of what their values are.  Many of the traditions that Conservatives value tend to feel extreme to Liberals.  Our currency should not include God on it, whose God are we referring to?  Will that make others feel left out?  Think of the Ten Commandments monument that was removed from the courthouse in Montana.  Think of the colored Christmas lights on public land at Christmas time, Manger scenes at Christmas, etc.  I see liberals giving up their own rights so that they don’t feel like they’re stepping on anyone else’s rights.

Progressive – This term is mis-used today.  Progressive to me indicates someone who leans liberal, but they exercise it more strongly (liberal on steroids).  Some people use the term Progressive to describe socialist beliefs which isn’t accurate.  I see how that confusion would take place, but I think socialism is more extreme than progressiveness.  Progressives believe many of the same things that liberals do, but they’re willing to give up more to make it happen.  I think we see many more progressives in today’s world than liberals, although many people calling themselves progressives believe in socialism.  Progressives believe in big government, but they don’t want to give everything to the government as to Socialists.  I see progressives as throwing traditions out the door and starting fresh.  They definitely want to provide for others and can’t stand to see anyone not on the equal.  They believe that government has the obligation to provide for people.

Socialism – Give everything to the government and let the government work everything out.  They will provide food, medicine, housing and any other essentials that they determine necessary.  The government knows best and it is not your job to question that. You have the obligation to serve the community with the skills you have and you won’t necessarily be rewarded based on what that job is.  For example, my boss and I both work in Systems.  We would likely be given the same size home and allowed the same “stuff”, it doesn’t matter that he is a manager and in our current market would make $50,000 more than I do.  In a socialist system, we would receive the same thing.  (Sounds a lot like Unions where your compensation is based on time in grade and not performance)  The Nolan chart uses the term Statist, which I correlate to socialist. 

Of course, you can be blended versions of these categories.  Conservative Libertarian, Progressive Socialist, etc.  I fall into the category of Conservative Libertarian and I completely understand why.  I believe in many of the traditional beliefs that the country was founded on.  I am deeply religious and my religion is important to me.  The life of the unborn, the fact that our laws are founded on the bible and ten commandments, etc.  I also relate to the Libertarian party which floored me.  However, I now understand that they do have values which are important to me.  Small government, laws that don’t restrict my freedoms, live and let live as long as you’re not hurting others and low taxes.  Sometimes these values don’t mesh well with my conservative values and it’s interesting to see which one wins. 

Barack Obama is probably a Progressive Socialist.  That helps explain why he relates to the liberals and progressives, but the socialist part of him is like nails on the chalk board to people like me.  Taxes drive me absolutely crazy.  “Spreading the wealth around” goes against every principle I have.  I lived in Illinois for a while and it nearly killed me each month paying our property taxes.  Now, we’re back in Colorado where the property taxes are more reasonable, but our tax structure is changing under the current government.  Colorado just implemented new taxes on food, candy, soda and internet sales.  Internet sales!!!  That is a big irritant for me because I shop online for everything.  This really upsets me, but fits with the liberal, progressive and/or socialist ideals.  High taxes lead to bigger government and the ability to provide for others that choose not to (and the few that can’t).


9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Liz
    Mar 04, 2010 @ 12:42:28

    I tested as a Centrist Libertarian. I’m a registered R, and highly religious, but I believe in less government intervention. I do have to say that there were at least a few questions that I didn’t feel like any of the answers given were the “right answer” for me, so I picked the closest. Not ideal.

    My definition of a conservative is a little different than yours. I think of “fiscal conservatism” as being the chief component of conservatism. The “family values” aspect is interesting, but is really relatively recent in the grand scheme of the timeline, and many times this subgroup proposes legislation that contradicts the “small government” part of the conservative makeup. If I want to convert people to my system of values, I don’t think government control is the best way to do that.

    Good article – nice to encourage people to get perspective on where their beliefs actually are.

    Here’s a site I’ve used in the past for the same purpose. They often show the compass reading of major political candidates or figures:

    You can see where Barack Obama is here:

    I’m -4 Libertarian, and more in the middle of right/left, which I suppose means the political compass and the test you linked are giving similar results!
    (Incidentally, I voted for Bob Barr, who is further to the right than McCain, but also more Libertarian leaning.)
    .-= Liz´s last blog ..Getting Started Losing Weight – The Proper Tools =-.


  2. kosmo
    Mar 04, 2010 @ 14:39:29

    I agree with Liz – this seems a bit too simplictic. But that’s the tradeoff with ease of use.

    Personally, I’m quite liberal socially, and pretty moderate fiscally – but this put me right at the intersection of centrist, conservative, and libertarian.

    Taxes on internet sales don’t bother me a lot. If I buy a book at Wal-Mart, or on Amazon, why shouldn’t the two purchases be taxed in a consistent manner. Because Amazon’s an internet company?

    Although, from a vendor point of view, I’m happy that Iowa excludes digitally delivered content from sales tax, so that I can avoid collecting sales tax for purchases from The Casual Observer’s store.


  3. Evan @40Tech.com
    Mar 04, 2010 @ 19:16:01

    I came out as Centrist- almost dead center. Liz does make a good point. Years ago, the Republicans did a masterful job of co-opting their current social platform, to bring in voters that would otherwise never vote Republican. There was a book about how the right clamped onto historically non-conservation platofrms. I wish I could remember the title, but it talked about how an area of Kansas (I think?) is now predominantly Republican, after always being Democratic. It was the social issues (gay marriage, etc.) that brought about the change.
    .-= Evan @40Tech.com´s last blog ..What’s On My iPhone — Part One =-.


  4. Squeaky
    Mar 04, 2010 @ 22:18:34

    Great comments! I totally agree, this is a little simple. It looks to pigeon hole you in a short amount of time. In today’s society, 10 questions is about all most people will spend on subjects like this. You three are obviously OK with spending more time on these type of questions much like I am.

    Liz, I like the link you included. Thank you and welcome to thesoapboxers.com.

    I’m impressed to see a few people come out as centrists and still take the time to read a conservative posting. I’ll see you all next month!



  5. Martin Kelly
    Mar 04, 2010 @ 23:33:15

    Wow. I took both tests. Squeeky’s had me dead on the corner of centrist/conservative/libertarian. I expected this as I consider myself a fiscal conservative and a social centrist. Liz’s test put me almost dead center, Economic -0.25, Social -0.31 which suggests just slightly libertarian slightly liberal. I was surprised by the high number of questions focusing on sex, but I guess that is a hot topic right now (no pun intended).

    Squeeky, I appriciate your comment on my posting on Monday. You were right, I did enjoy this article.


  6. The Angry Squirrel
    Mar 05, 2010 @ 01:17:18

    I agree the Nolan Chart was pretty simplistic, but for ease of use it has to be pretty vague to spit out a result quickly. I also thought the question selection over the course of the political compass one was weird at times and also felt that the right answer was not there all the time either. Although I felt it a more accurate projection overall.

    I was right on the line of liberal in the centrist portion on the Nolan and scored -7.38/-3.65 on the Political Compass one.


  7. kosmo
    Mar 05, 2010 @ 07:38:19

    OK, I took the political compass test.

    First of all, I’m surprised that they tried to slip this one past people. Are there people who are unaware of the origin of this quote? Maybe.

    “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” is a fundamentally good idea.

    How did I do?

    Economic: -1.75
    Libertarian/Authoritarian: -3.69

    In terms of the parties themselves, I think it only makes sense that they shift slightly left or right to pick up unaffiliated voters as needed. If you’re hungry for pepperoni pizza, would you rather compromise a bit and have canadian bacon pizza, or be forced to allow the other party to choose and get stuck with fish?


  8. Martin Kelly
    Mar 05, 2010 @ 13:00:38

    Cosmo, I love it. I definately don’t want the fish. Has anyone in Washinton (or Topeka, Austin, or Sacremento for that matter) ever heard of getting the pizza half pepperoni and half canadian bacon?

    I took a more careful look at the polical compass. It seems that everyone is conservative. The charts on the canditates from the last election showed that President Obama and Vicepresident Bidden both became more liberal after the primaries (but still right of center) while Senator McCain became more conservative. The scale seems to put the center rather far to the left for my tastes, but then again I fell almost at the center. It is easy to criticize these quizes. If it was easy, any one of use would develop a better one.


  9. James
    Mar 06, 2010 @ 18:08:46

    I like the tag “populist.” When used by Wm Jennings Bryan it meant something different, but still relevant. Sadly his “Cross of Gold” is nostalgia these days.
    Today I think populism aptly describes the angst felt by a lot of conservatives about “big government and freedoms” and liberals in the context of “multi-nationals and war” etc.
    So consider me a populist, even if it is of my own creation 🙂


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