Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Big Difference Between Sanders and Clinton, Shown via Graph

With so much always up for debate in the political world, it brings a certain satisfaction whenever a piece of data comes out that proves exactly what you've been saying for months. But I should stop myself before I go off into the realm of "I told you so," strutting around rooster-like, chest puffed. This isn't about gloating. It's about information that's important for anyone planning to vote in the Democratic primary.

We've commonly heard the refrain that Clinton and Sanders aren't that different in terms of their political positions. Sure, Sanders is a little more progressive, but the real difference is that Clinton is a pragmatist, not some dreamy-eyed, guitar-strumming socialist hippy who doesn't understand politics. So suck it up and be realistic, they voted the same way 93% of the time--why do you Sanders supporters act like they're so unlike each other?

My answer has always been that I act that way because they are so different. You can throw statistics at me, but we just have to look at who backed the Iraq War, who destroyed Libya, who voted for the bailouts, who supported welfare reform, and doesn't want to bring back Glass-Steagall, or have a $15 minimum wage, or free college. Need I go on?

But now my ilk and I have our own statistic to throw. The Political Compass, an organization whose analyses I've read and respected for years, and that offers (in my view) one of the best tests to determine your own standing on the political spectrum, has released their first analysis of the 2016 candidates, and they've concluded exactly what I, and many others, have said: Clinton is a lot closer to the Republicans than she is to Sanders.

The graph from Political Compass
The Political Compass plots each person on a graph, with the left-right x-axis representing economics and the up-down y-axis representing personal liberty. This gives us four quadrants: left-libertarian, left-authoritarian, right-authoritarian, and right-libertarian. The farthest you can go in any direction one on axis is ten units: ten units right, left, up, or down.

I want to focus on the x-axis first, because economics is the main issue that's focused on in the Democratic primaries. So how much separates Clinton from Sanders? Two units? Three? Surely no more than four, right?

Wrong. Try nine. Sanders is two units to the left, Clinton seven to the right. The Republicans, meanwhile, are all around eight or nine to the right. This is exactly what Sanders supporters have been saying about Clinton since the beginning--she's practically a Republican, she's so right-wing.

And the big difference isn't because Sanders is "far-left," as some have claimed. He's only two units to the left, out of a possible ten--the definition of center-left. For comparison, look at the score that dangerous radical H.S. Buchana got--9 units to the left. There's a crazy extremist for you. But despite only being a little to the left, Sanders has the distinction of being the only major candidate who is a leftist of any kind. For anyone who claims to be left-wing, or progressive, or to want any real change in a positive direction, this should be a significant piece of information.

My score on Political Compass's grid.
Looking at the y-axis, the picture has a few more colors than the image of stark divide one finds on the economic question. What stands out the most is Trump's nine out of ten on the authoritarian side; Vlad the Impaler could hardly best him. The difference between the cluster of Republicans and Clinton is more significant here, as they all score to the higher end of the authoritarian scale and she gets a four, meaning she's far from being any kind of libertarian, but lacks the same crazed lust to oppress that the Republicans have.

Still, if you support personal liberty, Sanders is easily the best. He scores an exact zero--neither authoritarian nor libertarian. But in a field of would-be tyrants, he looks like an anarchist in comparison. It's easy to see how he gets the better score: he's been the one to take a stand against NSA spying, and to vote against the PATRIOT Act. Clinton still stands by her vote in favor of it.

But how do you know which candidate you're closest to? Well, you're in luck, because like I said, they have a test that puts you on the exact same grid that all the candidates are on. For anyone undecided, please take a few minutes to take the test--it's simple multiple choice and the questions are straightforward and opinion-based. It's well worth your time if you're going to vote. Even if you think you know which candidate represents your priorities best, I urge you to take it. The results may take you by surprise.

No comments:

Post a Comment