Join 3,557 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Beats flipping a coin.
November 2, 2007 1:35 AM   Subscribe

Glassbooth connects you to the presidential candidate that represents your beliefs the best. Too busy/lazy/etc. to research the candidates on your own? Let web 2.0 tell you who to vote for.
posted by allkindsoftime (83 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
There is a similar thing in the Netherlands whose name sounds like "Stemwiser", but I don't know enough Dutch to be able to google it.
posted by athenian at 2:12 AM on November 2, 2007


We had something like this for the last three or four elections, as far as I know; and frankly, I think something like that should replace the traditional ballot. I know it probably won't happen in my lifetime, but should the voting masses ever get it into their head that it's in their best interest to vote for the party that has the best fitting attitudes, not the most likable spokespersons then I predict a political representation that's actually close to what the voting public wants...

In my ideal dream world, people would get into the voting booth and answer twenty to thirty questions on their political belief, and the machine casting your vote for you for the party that most fits your belief system. That way you wouldn't be influenced by the outer appearance or charisma of a speaker, just by the way you want the government to act.

I know there was quite a discussion over here in Germany when those tests first came out, and since most of the answers to the questions were drawn from the official political programs of the parties many people started to wonder if they shouldn't change their vote to a different one. I know for sure that some of my colleagues started questioning their traditional voting pattern, especially when confronted with the fact that some parties had some fundamentally different ideas of how things should be run in areas they deeply cared about - and they simply hadn't known about that.

Unfortunately I can't think of this system doing much good in America, where only two "real" parties exist which have no need to distinguish themselves except in a few random hot-button issues.

@athenian: This is the page for the semi-official "Wahl-O-Mat" in Germany, supplied by the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung (federal central organisation for political education), it mentions on this page taking ideas from the Dutch project StemWijzer.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 2:29 AM on November 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Here's an Australian version.

(93% Gravel, 92% Kucinich)
posted by aeschenkarnos at 3:10 AM on November 2, 2007


Here's the dutch StemWijzer athenian mentioned.
posted by DreamerFi at 3:25 AM on November 2, 2007


It said I should vote for Dennis Kucinich. And he's always seemed like he had good ideas. Of course, he's got about as much chance of being nominated as I do....

Truth told, I'm supporting: Obama, Clinton, Edwards, in that order. Used to have Edwards on top because of the people with a realistic chance of getting the nomination he's got the policies I most support. Bill Clinton was the best Republican president we've had in decades, and Hillary Clinton seems cut from the same mold, I really don't like the idea of having another DINO president. Obama, likewise, seems far too right wing for my comfort.

However, after giving the matter some consideration, I came to realize that whichever Democrat becomes president they'll be pulling their cabinet from the same pool of DNC types. I'm sure there would be differences, but probably not as drastic as there might be. Further, that same pool of DNC types is going to severely limit what the personal politics of the president actually do.

So I say "go for the statement", and want to see Obama as the Democratic nominee just to smack the cynicism that says Americans will never vote for a black guy in the teeth. Then Clinton because its been 231 years and its high time we had a woman president. Since the personal politics of the actual candidate won't change much, I figure we can at least attempt to benefit from some symbolism.
posted by sotonohito at 3:28 AM on November 2, 2007


I supported, worked for, donated to, and voted for Kucinich in 2004 and see no reason not to in 2008.
posted by willmize at 3:45 AM on November 2, 2007


This is where Obama jumped a few notches higher in my book.
posted by allkindsoftime at 4:14 AM on November 2, 2007 [3 favorites]


Yes, Glassbooth, I know that Dennis Kucinich shares 99% of my beliefs, but please give me a candidate who shares my beliefs AND make him/her electable. I guess that's Web 3.0. Sigh.
posted by sneakin at 4:20 AM on November 2, 2007


88% Kucinich, 86% Gravel.

It's really hard to find out which candidates are most closely aligned with my own opinions on how the US should be run. I think there will always be a flock of sheeple who will vote for the candidate who appeals to them superficially, but tools like this can and should play greater roles in the future.
posted by onalark at 4:24 AM on November 2, 2007


Of course, he's got about as much chance of being nominated as I do....
If you and everyone else in this damn country just voted how you felt, rather than following the horse race, he would have a chance of being nominated. It's a stupid Catch-22.
posted by DenOfSizer at 4:33 AM on November 2, 2007 [6 favorites]


This is actually really good. I hadn't really looked in to Gravel before, but now I wish he was getting more coverage.
posted by phrontist at 4:37 AM on November 2, 2007


Interesting. 81% of Kucinich, Edwards, and Richardson. Maybe they are more alike than I realized. Though, again, only Edwards has a chance, and even that is pretty dim.

Sometimes I feel very depressed about this stuff. I remember the first time I voted, and how excited I was. Making a difference!

Hah.
posted by miss tea at 4:39 AM on November 2, 2007


I very much agree with this type of thing being a good replacement for the traditional ballot. It might be a step back towards issue based politics from the politics of aesthetics.

(88% Kucinich.)
posted by knapah at 4:42 AM on November 2, 2007


This poll is lacking, lacking Steven Colbert.
posted by caddis at 4:56 AM on November 2, 2007


There are a lot more reasons to vote for someone besides just where they stand on ten arbitrary issues. Their stature, their personality, their influence, their intelligence, their flexibility, their ambition, their motivation - these are all things to consider and are all important. Politics isn't about getting into office and making a checklist of all the neat things you want to do. You've got to persuade people to vote with you, you've got to threaten others to follow suit, and you've got to instill great amounts of confidence in other politicians, your constituents, and other world leaders. That's why Kucinich won't be president - not because he doesn't have great ideas but because he's not a great politician and, most damningly, people just don't think he's presidential. My uncle the roofer has some great ideas, but he wouldn't make a very good politician - and in turn not a very good mayor, governor, senator, or president.
posted by billysumday at 5:16 AM on November 2, 2007 [5 favorites]


It might be a step back towards issue based politics from the politics of aesthetics.

I'm not a historian, but my impression is that politics has always been about aesthetics and personality over substance and issues.
posted by billysumday at 5:19 AM on November 2, 2007


politics has always been about aesthetics

That's the great thing about history. It's only what has happened so far. :)
posted by aeschenkarnos at 5:21 AM on November 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


89% Gravel, 85% Kucinich.

And since I'm not a fan of cognitive dissonance, I'm voting for Gravel (I was going to vote for Kucinich).

As for those of you who are refusing to vote for Kucinich or Gravel on the grounds that they aren't electable, you have just lost the right to complain about who does get elected.
posted by oddman at 5:22 AM on November 2, 2007


83% Gravel, 74% Kucinich. I don't really know this Gravel character, so I'll I have to look into him.
posted by King Bee at 5:34 AM on November 2, 2007


Throw up another voice for the "vote your beliefs, not electability". People who are only willing to vote for the candidates in the top two or three of the national polls are the reason the 2004 Democratic candidate was the least charismatic one on the ballot.
posted by Plutor at 5:37 AM on November 2, 2007


89% Gravel, 85% Kucinich.

And since I'm not a fan of cognitive dissonance, I'm voting for Gravel (I was going to vote for Kucinich).


So you're going to change who you're voting for because an internet survey that lasts two minutes has told you that your ideas are 4% more closely aligned with Gravel than Kucinich? That is certainly odd, man.
posted by billysumday at 5:37 AM on November 2, 2007


Ha! I got Mike Gravel, a Democrat from Alaska. That's a comment on my unsuitability to inhabit the lower 48, I think.

I'll go pack...
posted by Pecinpah at 6:05 AM on November 2, 2007


Is there a word in German for the realization that the candidate you're most likely to vote for has no chance of being nominated, let alone elected?
posted by tommasz at 6:26 AM on November 2, 2007


Tommasz - Yeah, I think it's Businessasusuallen.
posted by King Bee at 6:37 AM on November 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


Definitely echo support for making this the ballot.

94% Kucinich, 90% Gravel, 81% Dodd. Edwards at 80% is perhaps the closest electable candidate.
posted by supercres at 6:39 AM on November 2, 2007


It sucks that Kucinich is not well known. He supports/has such great middle class, blue collared ideals. I'm hoping he gets in as a vice! Then he will get some face time and in about 9+ years people will take him seriously. On a side note I hate this two party crap we have in this country. I feel that I want to vote for him but if I don't vote for Clinton/Obama that I will be hurting the country because Reps like to cheat their way into office. And Lord only knows that we don't need another 4 years of their crap in office! Edwards was high on my list as well, hopefully he gets the nod so him and kucinich can run the show.

Wishful thinking
posted by Mastercheddaar at 6:49 AM on November 2, 2007


Vote your oversimplified beliefs based on a web quiz! It's Democracy!

I suggest, yet again (as this sort of thing comes up regularly) that people actually do and should evaluate candidates based on more than simplified debate answers boiled down into some stranger's idea of whether your opinion is 74% like Mike Gravel's, or 88% like Dennis Kucinich's.

For example, I share many views with Kucinich, and he regularly comes up as one of my top two or three matches on quizzes like this. But I've shaken the man's hand and heard him speak in person and you could not pay me enough to vote for the man. I don't trust him, and I don't think he'd be a good or successful leader of the country. He is, frankly, small-time. I'd love to have him as my Senator. As President, he'd be a disaster.

So I conclude that I could get probably 75% of what I'd want with John Edwards. Sure, we disagree on a number of details, but I think he's a much more inspiring leader than any of the far-left midgets who match my checklist. He could actually get some of that agenda done.

Politics is about people, not just issues. Politics is the way people make decisions and rules together, and any time people have to work together, personality is important. Politics is not a battle of issue checklists. It's not a game of Magic, people.

If you vote based on nothing but a list of positions, you are missing at least half the point.
posted by rusty at 6:49 AM on November 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


Politics is about people, not just issues.

Exactly. If being president were only about having ideas, democracy would be flourishing in Iraq. But ideas require execution, which as president requires working together with other elected officials, regardless of how much you may dislike their ideas. The ability to do that is a factor I've found missing in every site like this I've seen. As far as I can tell, Gravel and Kucinich would be almost as bad at working with others as Bush.
posted by scottreynen at 6:53 AM on November 2, 2007


"Vote your beliefs, not electability."

If you really want to vote for a candidate that thinks the way you do, you probably ought to vote for yourself. Yes, you have very little chance of winning, but if electability doesn't matter to you, what do you care?

The truth is that even if you're voting for Gravel or Dodd or some other low percentage candidate, you're already considering electability to some degree or another. I know 20 people I'd rather see president than any of the major party clowns, but I won't be voting for any of them. Who's going to elect my dad, anyway?

Democracy isn't the system where everyone gets the president they want. There's a compromise built into the system. And it isn't even the case that 100% of the people get a voice in that compromise. The way it's practiced in the USA, it's a race to see which 51% of the country can come to a compromise first.

The question is, do you want to be part of that 51% and if so, how badly? This sets up a trade-off between "voting your beliefs" and "voting electability" and everyone has to decide where they fall on that sliding scale. Some people will get lucky and one of the proposed compromises will be almost exactly what they want in a president. Some of us will hold our noses and pick the lesser of two evils. Some of us will decide that their principles are worth more than whatever change in outcome they could have effected. But a hard and fast rule isn't going to exist here, I don't think.

Elections are by definition an exercise in compromise, on the personal level and on the national. Advice to "never compromise" seems to miss the point.
posted by Richard Daly at 6:58 AM on November 2, 2007 [7 favorites]


Huh, it looks like I'm a closet democrat. I feel so dirty.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:05 AM on November 2, 2007


I agree with myself on 100% of the issues, with a margin of error of less than 1%. But I do not endorse myself for President, because I'm a vindictive asshole and a snob.
posted by bluejayk at 7:11 AM on November 2, 2007 [3 favorites]


what a load. personality has to be squared with the reality of policy.

sociopaths are literally the most likely people to win presidential elections if likability/electability is emphasized over substance.

by modern standards, an ugly, stubborn codger like lincoln could never have gotten elected, because we now consider style to be the equal of substance. it was not always thus, despite all the twits twittering otherwise.

the tendency is always to look at where we are now and proclaim "it has always been thus." but that doesn't make it true. it has not always been thus. the criteria we now use to evaluate our political leaders are inferior to those we've used in the past, and that's why we've suffered so many disastrous policy failures in recent american history. until we recognize these failures for the systematic problems they are, they will only continue.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:12 AM on November 2, 2007


Is there a word in German for the realization that the candidate you're most likely to vote for has no chance of being nominated, let alone elected?

McGovernschmertz
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 7:14 AM on November 2, 2007 [3 favorites]


McCain (76%), Giuliani (74%), Romney (73%). Where do I go to turn in my MeFi badge?
posted by loquax at 7:21 AM on November 2, 2007


Kucinich, Gravel, and... Richardson? Mr. Anti-Gay-Marriage? I don't think so, Glassbooth!
posted by bassjump at 7:25 AM on November 2, 2007


Kucinich, Gravel, Edwards, just like almost everyone else in the thread. If you guys don't elect Kucinich, you should send him up here to Canada, as it seems like he would fit in quite well.
posted by arcticwoman at 7:29 AM on November 2, 2007


by modern standards, an ugly, stubborn codger like lincoln could never have gotten elected, because we now consider style to be the equal of substance.

Lincoln's style was that of a tall, rugged, country lawyer who was stronger than ox - once even beating up the leader of a rival gang. He was the country's great orator and had an incredible sense of humor. Unliked by many, he was, even in his own day, a mythic personality. If you think people said, "Lincoln supports a slight tax refund for property owners in the 15th percentile if the land was acquired through family donation, therefore I shall support him," then you need to read some history books. Lincoln won by force of personality, not by force of policy.
posted by billysumday at 7:42 AM on November 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


by force of personality,

sure, but we used different criteria to judge personality in those days.

salesman-like traits like being pleasant, affable and telegenic weren't among them.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:44 AM on November 2, 2007


If you guys don't elect Kucinich, you should send him up here to Canada, as it seems like he would fit in quite well.

We already have Jack Layton, and he has a much better moustache.
posted by loquax at 7:45 AM on November 2, 2007


That's true, Layton's moustache is pretty great.
posted by arcticwoman at 7:48 AM on November 2, 2007


sure, but we used different criteria to judge personality in those days...salesman-like traits like being pleasant, affable and telegenic weren't among them.

Hillary Clinton: pleasant, affable, and telegenic.
posted by billysumday at 7:48 AM on November 2, 2007


...and it also mattered more that the outward personality traits were consistent with the inward drives, demeanor and temperament of the candidate.

these days, if a candidate seems firm and principled in public appearances, when in reality, their track-records show them to be shallow opportunists who are quick to compromise for short-term advantage, then we're quite comfortable with judging them positively (though not without qualification) on the basis of how they seem without regard for how that appearance connects to the reality.

in fact, its seen as legitimate to credit a candidate for appearing to be strong on a position, even when facts suggest their convictions aren't that strongly held, though crediting them for successfully contriving the appearance of conviction in this way ultimately amounts to crediting them for their dishonesty.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:53 AM on November 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


I've always aligned with Kucinich in these tests as well, but come on. Just because someone aligns with you politically does not mean you should support them. Kucinich would never get elected, and even if he was he wouldn't be able to cram his program through congress, and he doesn't really seem like he would be a competent president in the first place).

I liked Edwards a lot in the beginning, but it just doesn't look like he's going to be able to pull it off, and so my "anti-Hillary" vote is going to go too Obama. The fact that Obama opposed the war from the start, and Edwards actually voted to authorize it makes it an easier choice. Also, Markos Moulitsas has completely ruled Edwards out due to his taking federal matching funds, since he says it will make the general campaign extremely difficult due to not being able to spend money before the convention.

There are a lot of things I don't like about Obama, in particular his whole "New kind of politics" thing where we all get along and sing kumbya just irritates me. Come on, the republicans have been crapping all over us for years, now is not the time to kiss and make up, now is the time to fight back.

I don't see much campaign media, but this is somewhere where Hillary, supposedly, is getting it right. She's hitting the republicans and bush in her ads, and making an explicitly partisan argument. And after all she's probably one of the most iconic democrats today.

But the problem is that really goes against how she's behaved in the senate. She was a constant queen of bi-partisanship, and she supported the war wholeheartedly. She still hasn't apologized or admitted it was a mistake, as Edwards has done.

I was a huge political junky before the election and after, but it's just gotten so depressing. No one in the democratic party seems willing to fight, they all just want to roll over, and Obama doesn’t seem like enough of an exception. But he's still better then Hillary and Edwards.
posted by delmoi at 7:56 AM on November 2, 2007


It's nice that it goes on to tell you how similar/dissimiliar you are to all the major candidates. It was more important to me to confirm that Mitt Romney represents my concerns least of all than that Kucinich does so most of all, since as has been noted Kucinich has as much chance of being elected as any one of us do. Based on the 29% baseline thus established by Mitt, I am reassured that the 73% - 76% scored by Hillary, Edwards and Obama are all much better options for me, even if none of them reach the 83% of Kucinich.
posted by yhbc at 7:57 AM on November 2, 2007


That way you wouldn't be influenced by the outer appearance or charisma of a speaker,

I think it's completely appropriate to be influenced by factors other than just a candidate's position on the issues. Leadership, for one. I'd rather have a strong, charismatic president who agreed with me on 80% of the issues than a wimp who's in 100% agreement with me. There's also the issue of honesty to be considered--these matches are based on what the candidates say they'll do if elected. As I'm sure we're all aware, what a politician says he'll do and what he actually does are not always the same thing.

(80% Gravel, 78% Kucinich, which probably means I need to go back and do it again and assign more points to social security than I did before, because there's no way I'm voting for Dennis "Social Security is solvent through 2041 so we don't need to change it, and if you're planning on still being alive in 2042, too bad for you" Kucinich.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:59 AM on November 2, 2007


PontifexPrimus writes "In my ideal dream world, people would get into the voting booth and answer twenty to thirty questions on their political belief, and the machine casting your vote for you for the party that most fits your belief system. That way you wouldn't be influenced by the outer appearance or charisma of a speaker, just by the way you want the government to act."

Isn't that how the parliamentary systems of countries like England and Australia work? In other words, the vote is for the party, and the legislature picks the PM (but in practice I suppose the PM choice is typically known anyway).

I think proportional representation would go a long way to break up the two party system. There are some problems with parliamentary style government, including a lack of checks and balances ...
posted by krinklyfig at 8:04 AM on November 2, 2007


I will not partake because I do not want my preconceived notions shattered.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 8:05 AM on November 2, 2007


I'd rather have a strong, charismatic president who agreed with me on 80% of the issues than a wimp who's in 100% agreement with me.

Sure, if that's the choice. But I'm personally a little suspicious of excessively charismatic people--I think we need sober, level-headed and competent people. Competent people, while they may have forceful personalities, aren't necessarily charismatic, in the conventional sense. Competent administrators aren't often charismatic in the conventional sense, but the presidential role is supposed to be largely administrative, so it makes sense to have the right kind of person in the job. Not a superstar, but someone with a steady hand and the humility needed to think clearly and to resist the temptation to abuse their power.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:05 AM on November 2, 2007


Bill Richardson? I got Richardson?

I think this is more a way to tell you who to look into.
posted by OldReliable at 8:12 AM on November 2, 2007


Fair enough, saulgoodman, but that only serves to illustrate my larger point: there are characteristics of a candidate which are relevant to their fitness for the office beyond merely his position on political issues. Including competence, sobriety, and level-headedness, which are not measured by strictly issue-based surveys such as this one.

I think proportional representation would go a long way to break up the two party system.

The problem is that U.S. voters have a very strong "vote for the person, not for the party" ethos. It's why many states have one Republican and one Democratic senator, both very popular within their home state. Whether this is good or bad, I don't know, but it would be very hard to overcome.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:13 AM on November 2, 2007


by modern standards, an ugly, stubborn codger like lincoln could never have gotten elected, because we now consider style to be the equal of substance.

Heresy!

This country votes based on its taste in guys to get a beer with, and you're telling me Joe Middle America wouldn't down a pint with a man who proposed fighting a duel with motherfuckin' broadswords in a pit?
posted by Mayor West at 8:14 AM on November 2, 2007


Sure, if that's the choice. But I'm personally a little suspicious of excessively charismatic people--I think we need sober, level-headed and competent people. Competent people, while they may have forceful personalities, aren't necessarily charismatic, in the conventional sense. Competent administrators aren't often charismatic in the conventional sense, but the presidential role is supposed to be largely administrative, so it makes sense to have the right kind of person in the job. Not a superstar, but someone with a steady hand and the humility needed to think clearly and to resist the temptation to abuse their power.

I think you have no idea what your asking for. This idea is essentially goverment by beauracracy. If you love the DMV and would love to live in a highly stratified society by all means. Besides, You want to tell me that Bill Clinton wasn't competent or charismatic, if so which one,FDR wasn't competent, Theodore Roosevelt wasn't competent.

I think the issue is that charisma makes rational people nervous, they think that rational ideas should prevail. The funny thing is that the really big decisions are predicated not on arcane abstract points but on basic issues of values and direction. Which invaion plan is better doesn't help us to decide whether to invade. We need to trust the guy who is going to make that decision.
posted by Rubbstone at 8:39 AM on November 2, 2007


Another Kucinich thing?

Well, since it's only four points between him and Edwards for me, I think I'll go Edwards.

What I'll say about strategic voting is this—Electability isn't as big a concern in the primaries, and voting for people like Kucinich works to send a message about the ultimate planks of the winner's platform. If Kucinich gets a big turnout (well, relatively), his policies will be brought into the DemBorg and utilized to some extent.

But what you're trying to do is hit a compromise between shaping the ultimate nominee by direct vote and by indirect vote. That is, you can either work on picking the nominee or on picking their ultimate policies, mostly because the base is the biggest deciding factor in the primaries. If you are OK with the presumptive front-runner (Hillary, I guess), but would like to see more of, say, Richardson's policies incorporated, you should vote for ol' Bill. If you're not OK with Hillary, you should vote for either Obama or Edwards, especially if you have an early primary (that counts—Sorry Michigan). If either Obama or Edwards becomes the front-runner, you can alter your vote accordingly (if Edwards looked like a lock, I'd vote for Kucinich in a heartbeat).

Anything else, and you're likely not having the effect that you hope you are.
posted by klangklangston at 8:50 AM on November 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


What strikes me, as a Canadian who has lived in the US for a number of years, is that in Canada I think we mostly view our politicians as civil servants and not celebrities. I think someone like Kucinich would have a shot in Canada (even leaving his lefty politics aside). I mean just look at our current Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, who has all the charisma of a dead fish.

Americans want their presidents to be living legends, and while its admirable and in line with the passion the country is known for, it's not always feasible. Despite all the larger than life presidents the country's been blessed with in its past, truly great people aren't always going to be around to step up. Sometimes a country needs a functionary instead of a hero, and I think now's that time, someone to duck their head and clean up the mess Bush made. Given the egos of the likely candidates though, that isn't going to happen.
posted by picea at 9:10 AM on November 2, 2007 [3 favorites]


For example, I share many views with Kucinich, and he regularly comes up as one of my top two or three matches on quizzes like this. But I've shaken the man's hand and heard him speak in person and you could not pay me enough to vote for the man. I don't trust him, and I don't think he'd be a good or successful leader of the country.

Wow, are you me? I've always thought the primary season is my chance to decide what I want, and the general election is the time to decide what we have in common. I always come up matched with Kucinich in these schemes. But I've shaken hands and talked with they guy one on one. And I walked away wondering what kind of drugs he was on. Then I got to see him collude with Edwards in Iowa to crush Dean through vote pooling at precinct meetings, then come to my state and tell massive lies about Dean.

I've met and talked to Edwards one on one and he's completely vacant. I mean, not a thought of his own in his head. He's an automaton who says what he is told by handlers. Then I got to watch him steal Dean's stump speeches phrase by phrase. Then I got to watch him work some pretty sleazy fundraising tactics and push around a campaign guide through Iowa calling on his workers to refer to Dean as an stock brokering ski bum of a patrician. We went to his rally when he brought Bon Jovi to town just so we could see Bon Jovi, though. :)

I've had dinner in the same room with Clinton before her husband was elected president. She seemed way intelligent and inspiring. Then everything she's ever done since has made me hate her.

Which left me with Obama, who had seemed like the Edwards of Illinois (first term Senator abandons state for higher ambitions; making highly scripted statements) until I learned a little bit about his record as a state legislator before going to the Senate. That made me think I could at least vote for him if I had to.

But I'm still praying for a Gore comeback. :)
posted by 3.2.3 at 9:25 AM on November 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


This idea is essentially goverment by beauracracy.

Or technocracy, which quite frankly, I'd be fine with. The problem is with tarring all complex organizations with the same gigantic brush.

Some complex functions simply cannot be performed without what you off-handedly dismiss as bureaucracy. Just because complex organizations are frequently subject to mismanagement and administrative problems (usually due more to failures in leadership and the various political machinations than come into play) doesn't mean there's any alternative to them. There are plenty of historical examples of competently administered bureaucracies accomplishing things that could never have been accomplished otherwise.

Sometimes a country needs a functionary instead of a hero, and I think now's that time, someone to duck their head and clean up the mess Bush made.

Exactly.

My own skepticism about charismatic types stems from the fact that a disproportionate number of them are sociopaths. And in my own experience, it's just a basic human tendency to give charismatic people far too much leeway.

There are also numerous lines of evidence suggesting our instincts are terribly inadequate when it comes to judging others based only on our personal impressions of them. Studies have shown that the types of people we most tend to trust with leadership responsibilities based on our favorable personal impressions of them also tend to be the people most willing and able to lie effectively.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:30 AM on November 2, 2007


3.2.3: Yeah... well... yeah.

I'm not nearly as interested in the Presidential this cycle as I am in some state and local races, to be honest. I'll vote for John Hillbama, whoever. But it's definitely time for Susan Collins to go! :-)
posted by rusty at 9:53 AM on November 2, 2007


It was interesting for me to confirm that Hillary & Barack are the worst of the democrats on the issues I care about. (Of course, they're all better than Guiliani.)

My problem is the test is pretty simple. I put almost half my "issue points" in environment/energy, and get questions like "I support or oppose investment in alternative forms of energy." Barack and Edwards scored the same, even though for Barack that means ethanol and biodiesel, and for Edwards that means wind and solar.

It did capture the candidates' difference on "I strongly support carbon taxes or credits to cut greenhouse gas emissions." (Edwards being much better on climate change than Obama or Clinton.)
posted by salvia at 10:24 AM on November 2, 2007


My problem is the test is pretty simple. I put almost half my "issue points" in environment/energy, and get questions like "I support or oppose investment in alternative forms of energy." Barack and Edwards scored the same, even though for Barack that means ethanol and biodiesel, and for Edwards that means wind and solar.

Another example: Ron Paul and Hilary Clinton are both listed as being strongly opposed to "personal social security accounts," but that's because Clinton is opposed to privatizing social security, while Paul wants to get rid of social security entirely. Very very different things.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:36 AM on November 2, 2007


i strongly agree with DA that tests like this have the potential to drastically oversimplify and even mis-characterize the candidates' positions. but they're still fun, in a navel-gazing sort of way.

taking this one at face value, i came out 94% kucinich, 90% gravel, 85% richardson. no real surprises there to me.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:47 AM on November 2, 2007


kind of disappointed to see only 74% agreement with obama, whom i'd been thinking i would support.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:55 AM on November 2, 2007


people would get into the voting booth and answer twenty to thirty questions on their political belief, and the machine casting your vote for you for the party that most fits your belief system. That way you wouldn't be influenced by the outer appearance or charisma of a speaker, just by the way you want the government to act.

The points when we need a leader aren't going to be polls over our abstract opinions about general issues, and what we answer on those polls is not going to indicate what he or she should do. In fact, in many instances, most citizens would not know what should be done - that is why they have elected a leader to handle the situation. Whether to go to war or to pass a bill into a law are major and very specific undertakings that can't be determined by some smoosh of tendencies shown by a quick smattering of questions (especially considering how many candidates have changed their positions - Kucinich was proudly pro-life until fairly recently, e.g.)

Watch some West Wing or something to remind yourself what the president is there for. It's not just to represent opinion polls. We need people who can think on their feet, interact with representatives from other nations, keep an administration together, and make complex decisions that may involve serious compromise and reworking. We need someone smart, hard-working, capable and personable. Those features aren't just so they look nice in commercials. it's so they can do the job.
posted by mdn at 10:57 AM on November 2, 2007


Watch some West Wing or something to remind yourself what the president is there for.

Yeah, thanks, and I'll take my cues on the indispensability of torture from the TV show 24.

This kind of thinking is exactly the problem: We look to dramatizations to inform our understanding of how things are supposed to work now. We're like little kids playing at the roles of adults, as filtered through the lens of what we see on TV. It's destroying us.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:25 AM on November 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


John Stevens is 87 years old.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 74 years old.
Stephen Breyer is 69 years old.
David Souter is 68 years old.

They're all over retirement age. I do not want a Republican president picking any more Supreme Court justices, so I will be voting for whoever the Democratic nominee is.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:51 AM on November 2, 2007 [3 favorites]


Not planning to vote in the primaries, kirkaracha?
posted by salvia at 12:01 PM on November 2, 2007


Yeah, thanks, and I'll take my cues on the indispensability of torture from the TV show 24.

:) yeah, that was a little too light, maybe. But they're actually reasonably accurate in terms of the specific roles of different members of an administration. The point was just that opinion poll numbers could not do the job. The actual person is necessary to handle real, complicated decisions. West Wing is a dramatic representation that's easily available and shows members of the staff and the administration working together, so I thought it was a funny example (and it's quite different to represent an "is" than an "ought")

...but fine, just read about what the president does in an average day, and recognize that the election is not about whether he or she agrees with you on gun control. It is far more important why s/he has those opinions, and what underlying principles and overall philosophy of government s/he holds. You're really not voting for a list of yes-no answers on a quick online test. That set of answers really could not run the country. You need a real person with an active mind.
posted by mdn at 12:17 PM on November 2, 2007


It's funny how the vast majority of us (self included) are being told by this thing to vote for Gravel, and I'm among the many who hadn't even heard of the guy.

It's like, hey wow! There's a guy running for president who actually thinks the war is dumb, just like me and everyone I know. Who'd a thought?

If I were a little more cynical than I am, I'd think that this was viral campaigning.
posted by roll truck roll at 1:07 PM on November 2, 2007


Doesn't beat flipping a coin if there are no questions on the quiz it gives you. Thanks, I'll stick to following the money.
posted by eritain at 1:22 PM on November 2, 2007


Gravel-86%, Richardson-84%, Kucinich-83%.

I hadn't realized Edwards was so strong on climate change. That will probably be the number one issue for me, and I had previously dismissed Edwards, and was going to make a 'Statement Vote' in the primary, probably for Gravel or Kucinich. But having seen the link above, I'm going to need to do some more research on the candidates, and if Edwards does come out far ahead of those two...he might get my vote.


Salvia-thanks for the link. :)
posted by HighTechUnderpants at 1:41 PM on November 2, 2007


It's funny how the vast majority of us (self included) are being told by this thing to vote for Gravel, and I'm among the many who hadn't even heard of the guy.

"Funny" is not the word. "Depressing" is more like it. For instance, did you know that NBC would not let Sen. Gravel take part in their televised debate a couple of days ago? Seems he doesn't meet their "minimum campaign requirements" (i.e. he hasn't got loads of cash).

Somehow, I doubt it's a coincidence that so many people haven't heard of him, considering that the media is already cutting him out of TV appearances!
posted by vorfeed at 1:41 PM on November 2, 2007


Gravel 89%, Kucinich 84%, Obama 80%

Clinton 72%.

Hey, at least she's 172% better than me and Bush (-%100).

And say what you want about our lovable Keebler Ramone, but Kucinich is a good, principled man who kept Cleveland from getting sold out to big business, and who's the best congressperson you could ask for... it's a pity people don't consider him electable.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 2:17 PM on November 2, 2007


Kucinich 96%, Gravel 91%, Edwards 79% and Obama, who I had been favoring, only 70%. These quizes may be of limited utility, but they at least generate this sort of discussion, and I'm finding it interesting and helpful. Living here in NH, I get to actually meet lots of these candidates, and then I get to cast an early and influential primary vote.
What I don't want to do is "throw away" my vote as I feel I may have when I voted for Nader (in 200?).
This thread is full of thoughtful stuff and I appreciate it.
posted by Hobgoblin at 2:31 PM on November 2, 2007


HighTechUnderpants, the source I like best (probably better than what I linked) is Grist. I google "grist edwards" and "grist obama," to get not only their official write-ups about the candidates' positions in the past, but also the really recent stuff getting written about by various bloggers.

I'd be interested to hear what you find out! It sounds to me like Edwards's environmental past is a bit checkered, which gave me pause at first, but then I decided that all I really care about is that he's come to a point where he's willing to take leadership on it now.
posted by salvia at 2:35 PM on November 2, 2007


However, after giving the matter some consideration, I came to realize that whichever Democrat becomes president they'll be pulling their cabinet from the same pool of DNC types.

First of all, I think you mean DLC, as the Howard Dean is the chair of the DNC. Secondly, that's not true, if you read Matt Yglesias he often talks about just who the advisors for the candidates actually are. It's not exactly a secret.
posted by delmoi at 3:02 PM on November 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


The point was just that opinion poll numbers could not do the job. The actual person is necessary to handle real, complicated decisions.

fair point, mdn...
posted by saulgoodman at 3:17 PM on November 2, 2007


Not planning to vote in the primaries, kirkaracha?

Maybe, maybe not. It's a contest between symbolism and laziness. Since I've already decided to vote for the Democratic nominee, and since it's unlikely a candidate who matches up well with my views will get the nomination, I'll probably only vote in the primary if it's close.

The last time we did one of these online things I matched up with Kucinich, this time I matched up with Gravel. I need to find out more about them before I decide who to vote for in the primary if I vote. (I was initially interested in Edwards and Obama, but I haven't been impressed with their campaigns so far.)

In the general election, I feel that it's vital that we elect a Democratic Congress and candidate--any currently plausible Democratic candidate--as a repudiation of the Bush administration and to avoid a Supreme Court that will be dominated by conservatives for decades. We had a chance to do this in 2004 and blew it, and this is our last chance. (I would love to see a multiparty system and a more liberal president, but I don't believe those things will happen by 2008, if they ever happen.)
posted by kirkaracha at 3:25 PM on November 2, 2007


Ron Paul would be better than some Democrats. I'm still deciding whether to defect this year.
posted by roll truck roll at 4:08 PM on November 2, 2007



Did they target the thing to me and put "drugs" as the first issue or am I hallucinating?
posted by Maias at 4:35 PM on November 2, 2007


84% Bill Richardson ...woot!
posted by UseyurBrain at 5:48 PM on November 2, 2007


It is tragically sad that when I tick all the "screaming, rabid liberal" boxes, I end up with a candidate I've never even heard of.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:21 PM on November 2, 2007


I got Gravel too, but the percentages were not high and really close to a bunch of others. This is a totally bogus way to choose a leader. A congressman perhaps, but not a president. Jimmy Carter matched up with most of my political and other views, plus he is extremely intelligent; I view him as a shining example of humanity; if I could be 1/10 that man I would be proud, yet, he was a horrible president. Ronald Reagan was on the wrong side of most political issues as far as I am concerned, his intelligence is in question and his stance on chasing communists out of the business in Hollywood is inexcusable, yet, as a president he was a most effective leader. We needed a cheerleader and he was the man for the job. (He would be the wrong man for the job right now though). My two favorites for president are not running (and no, Colbert was just a joke) - Al Gore and Colin Powell, Michael Bloomberg wouldn't suck either, but I am not sure he has built enough cred to rally support outside of the NYC area, and this would hamper his leadership.

The Supreme Court issue is key as well and I could not bring myself to vote for someone who would put another anti-abortion judge on the bench. The court has been quite liberal until late, so the recent conservative turn is not awful, except that
posted by caddis at 8:04 PM on November 2, 2007


The court has been quite liberal until late, so the recent conservative turn is not awful, except that[...!?!?!]

Except what, man? Dear lord, did they just take away our free speech?!?
posted by saulgoodman at 9:54 AM on November 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


.... little bit about installing Bush as president.
posted by caddis at 10:54 AM on November 3, 2007


« Older Marx Brothers Filter: Animal Crackers (1930), Mon...  |  Por el camino del desierto,... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments