By Rachel Totten Keith
According to the Political Spectrum Quiz at Gotoquiz.com, I am a center-right social moderate (see Fig. 1). I scored “Right” at 1.62 and “Authoritarian” at 0.65. This placed me in quadrant I, the upper right quadrant, and very near the center. On the foreign policy spectrum, I scored a 3.8, which earned me the label of “Neo-conservative” who wants a strong military that intervenes around the world. I scored a -1.42 on culture, which indicated I was a “Cultural liberal.” This seems contradictory and could be interpreted as I want to have individual freedom and equality in my home state, but not for others abroad.
Fig. 1. My results from Political Spectrum Quiz by Gotoquiz.com on September 7, 2015.
I have always considered myself a liberal conservative, so these results are not surprising at all. I am very familiar and comfortable with my political beliefs. I know that I support personal freedoms, including the freedom of religion, the freedom to own weapons, and the freedom to have an abortion. I believe adults have the mental capacity and responsibility to make decisions regarding their own health and personal defense. While I may not personally choose to have an abortion or practice Islam, I am not going to stop others from making those decisions for themselves. Is this not America-the Land of the Free? I also think that gay marriage is perfectly acceptable—who someone chooses to take to the bedroom is not anyone else’s business anyway.
As for our foreign policy, I believe we need a strong military for several reasons. We have many enemies that currently threaten the U.S. openly. Religious radicals, terrorist groups, and nations wish us dead. I really believe that never before has our national security been so vital. We need to protect not only our people, but our livelihood. The military provides security on many fronts. The military does so much more than wage war with men waving flags from tanks and launching missiles. We need to protect our banks and government from cyber threats that could access our private personal and government information with mal intent and deplete our resources. Our military also provides aid to people in need of food, medicine, and protection in the form of humanitarian missions. The military’s main business may be war, but the missions vary in purpose. We also need to secure our borders from terrorists seeking undetected entry from the north and south—not from immigrants. Enhanced security at our borders means we have a better chance at stopping these terrorists and also to curb the drug and human trafficking problems we are facing. No one should suffer or die from trying to attain a better life as an American citizen.
Gotoquiz.com offered the opportunity to compare my results with other quiz-takers using a tool that allowed me to break down the “other” by demographic data points such as age, gender, race/ethnicity, country, state, and party affiliation. This did not reveal much information because no matter what demographic I entered, every one resulted in a score that was very near the center in the 3rd quadrant, indicating “they” were a center-left social moderate. Even when I chose the most opposite data points I could think of, the result was the same, including when I chose a black, male aged 18-29. Does that mean that most of America is alike with more in common than we actually think? I would like to believe so. Or maybe it is because regardless of demographic, every one is still an individual with significantly varying beliefs and this is an average after all. However, I think the reason that most “others” were identified as center-left moderates is because of two plausible explanations: either the quiz is not very accurate or the quiz-takers did not make good use of the “how much does this issue matter?” scale on each question. What if I consider myself to be a cultural conservative, but I rate the issues as not very important, then I answer that I agree with abortion and rate its importance as high? Maybe others are a lot like me in that I feel strongly about a topic when it applies to me personally, but I don’t feel the same about the standard when it is applied to others, such as abortion or taxes.
The quiz itself is average, at best. As I said earlier, I am not surprised at the results of the evaluation of my own ideology. However, I would have thought I was slightly more to the left. The questions were relevant to the times and not dated, which helps with accuracy, but I am surprised there were no questions on voting or political activity. The accuracy could be improved if the questions were tweaked and added specifics that might reveal as to why or when the taker feels a certain way about an issue. For example, question #36 states, “[t]oppling enemy regimes to spread democracy will make the world a safer place.” Do they mean systematically removing dictators or autocracies because democracies are less susceptible to sociopathic whims of a single leader or do they mean after a war replacing a leader that has killed millions of people and allowing the citizens to elect their next leader? That is a significant difference and it also makes me question the objectivity of the quiz itself. It almost seems as if it is trying to paint a picture of “the toppling” of Saddam Hussein, which, of course, is far more complex than just ridding the world of a leader for democracy’s sake.
Many questions should be either eliminated or clarified, question #4 being one. It states, “[p]ublic radio and television funded by the state provide a valuable service the citizens.” Is it a valuable service? Or are they asking should the state provide such service at all? Question #6 is another case for revision: “[a]ccess to healthcare is a right.” Are they saying being healthy is a right or are they saying it is such a basic right that the government should provide access to healthcare? And if they are saying that the government should ensure everyone has access, then are they saying it should be provided to people needing government assistance in the form of Medicaid or are they saying the government should provide it to all citizens? And what about question #14—leaders meeting with our enemies? It is unclear if they mean the leader is meeting for sake of a treaty or to provide aid or to play golf. If the question is unclear, the evaluation must certainly be.
I would recommend using another quiz if you are looking to have your beliefs evaluated for political ideology. The efficacy of a quiz such as this is only as good as its questions. If Gotoquiz.com improved the clarity of their questions, they would probably get a more accurate reflection of each individual’s beliefs, which would improve their demographic averages results. Of course every demographic is going to result in a center-left social moderate average if the questions are confusing. One is not going to feel strongly about any issue when the question is vague and imprecise. Seek your truth elsewhere.
“Political Spectrum Quiz.” Gotoquiz.com. 4D Media, LLC., n.d. Web. 7 September 2015.