Thursday, 16 August 2012

What if the U.S. presidential election was decided on the issues?

isidewith.com is a very compelling non-partisan and non-profit political organization. Ahead of the U.S. presidential election this November, it provides a relatively short quiz which impartially posits questions on major political policy issues (such as on the economy, foreign policy, taxation and moral issues etc.) and  then assigns according to the its results to whomever taking it a candidate in the election who most closely shares their views. As of this writing, over one million people have taken this quiz. Of course, the overwhelming media narrative only considers the election in terms of two opposing campaigns: Democratic President Barack Obama, and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney who is vying to defeat the president's attempted re-election. But the I Side With quiz is compelling for the reason that it includes candidates from beyond this narrow paradigm: including Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, Green Party nominee Dr. Jill Stein, right-libertarian bulwark Ron Paul (presumably as a candidate without a label), American Socialist Party candidate Stewart Alexander, Virgil Goode of the radical right and Christian fundamentalist Constitution Party, among others (including Jimmy McMillian, who is keen to remind us that the rent is too damn high in the State of New York).

There are plenty of issues on which Obama and Romney are indistinguishable. Compared to Johnson, Stein and Paul, they both believe that U.S. troops should remain in Afghanistan until 2014, and support America's continual but evidently counterproductive war on drugs, as prominent examples.

Just to clarify for the sake of transparency, here are my results from taking the quiz, align me with the Green Party's Jill Stein:





President Barack Obama has achieved a fair amount of admirable things. But I cannot support a foreign policy which in the majority of ways a continuation of the George W. Bush administration's: that involves the indiscriminate killings of civilian targets in the Middle East and North Africa with drone strikes. Or indeed a domestic policy that condones indefinite detention and a punitive attitude to anti-government protests. 

Obama is controversial for his healthcare reforms, that are of course based upon those enacted by Romney when he was Governor of Massachusetts, that nessecitate the purchase of market-provided health insurance in law, and which also make it compulsory for healthcare companies to provide this insurance to all people without any depriving or extortionate conditions at sustainable pricing. This is easily better than America's currently atrocious market-driven healthcare system, but it is nevertheless not the universal healthcare system that the Green Party prefers, along with the majority of those within the Democratic Party.

At first, the most popular candidate of the quiz by state (with Alaska and Hawaii for what ever reason not included) was Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, with Barack Obama coming second in most strongly Democratic states and Mitt Romney lagging well behind in three states with the strongest right-wing conservative tendencies (such as Alabama and Latter-Day Saints mecca Utah):


Ron Paul also claims two states. Though he and Johnson are nominally libertarian (in the American general free-market capitalist sense), Paul is somewhat more conservative orthodox (such as in regard to immigration and abortion) and intellectually driven in regard his commitment heterodox Austrian economic philosophy.

Though the results by the state of the quiz will be again somewhat different as of this posting, the paradigm differences and nuance in terms of support for a wider rage of candidates speaks volumes about competing political priorities and cultural beliefs in the United States.

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