Snarky Behavior

What I’m looking for in a candidate…

October 1, 2007 · 1 Comment

How I map on the political spectrum… slightly more authoritarian than the Dali Lama, slightly less communist than Ghandi.

Reader’s Note: The following blog post was written in early June. I may have spoken with many of you about Rohit and my intention to create a website based on the the ideas raised in this post. We both got extremely busy and were beaten to the punch by a site called , which has all of the components I was looking for (minus a viral component… which is a HUGE letdown). Nevertheless, I suggest anyone looking for a good way to engage in the 2008 political campaign begin by seeing how they align with the candidates based on THE ISSUES they represent… and if you’re curious, I match with 1) Obama 2) Dodd 3) Bloomberg 4) Clinton.

In today’s political climate of defining labels, it’s always good to get a gauge of how well those labels actually define you. I tried the political compass questionnaire , and was somewhat surprised to see how far to the left I actually am on most issues.

This got me thinking…

In lieu of the meaningless ongoing primary debates, I would love to see candidates actually use their phony “profiles” on myspace or wherever to create a questionnaire like this. How great would it be if you could answer a slew of policy questions and see which candidate best matched your interests, based on their official policy positions?

This would serve two important purposes:

1.) I think there is a perception gap, especially for Edwards (who is much farther to the left than people assume, most notably on health care and labor), and Obama (whose stance on social issues is actually more conservative than you might think).

It would be great too if you had “make or break issues” that immediately took a candidate out of consideration. For instance, I would never vote for someone who didn’t unequivocally denounce torture.

Or if you could “weight” certain issues if you “strongly” agreed or disagreed with them: providing universal health care, choice for women, choice in education, bench-marked withdrawal in Iraq, etc. These are especially important to me.

And you could tackle potential wedge issues (which clearly will be immigration in 2008) by delineating the nuanced positions. Do you support guest worker programs? Amnesty? Conditional amnesty based on secured borders? Do you support civil unions? Gay marriage? Tax breaks for gay couples? Shared workplace benefits? Adoption?

2.) This would give the candidates free information directly from their constituents about what issues were most important. They could then tailor their messages to policy issues that speak to people instead of hew-hawing on the same talking points that are already losing their luster. The graph could map out three dimensionally and let participants know how the rest of America fell. And the coordinates of the candidates could drift over time as the debates rage on to see who really is steadfast and who is playing political gambit (HILLARY… COUGH COUGH).

Anyway, I don’t have the know-how to program this. Rohit, I’m looking at you here… want to design a beta version and pitch it to Obama?


So I was thinking more on this… why couldn’t we just make a site called or something? How great would that be? It would ask you an extensive survey of policy positions and then rank order the candidates based upon how “compatible” they are, or closely aligned, with your own ideologies?

That would take a HUGE step in leveling the horse-race money aspect of the primaries. You throw the media-managed “intangibles” out the window, and focus strictly on the issues. And it virtually eliminates the bully-pulpit aspect, which just results in a lot of head-nodding or hand-wringing anyway. Why not let people decide on their own how they feel instead of intimidating them with political BS?

Plenty of non-profits produce “report cards” that hold candidates accountable to their voting records (which, by the way, inherently benefits governors over congressman). That approach assumes that the subscribers to the organization (be it Sierra Club or Business Roundtable) are already aligned whole-sale with the mission statement of the particular organization.

Why not skip the third party altogether and let the voter discover for him or herself who best represents his or her particular multitude of interests?

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1 response so far ↓

  • Megan // October 3, 2007 at 5:18 pm | Reply

    1. Theoretical Ideal Candidate(100%)
    2. Dennis Kucinich (85%)
    3. Joseph Biden (84%)
    4. Barack Obama (82%)
    5. Hillary Clinton (82%)

    I’d like to meet this Theoretical Ideal Candidate.

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