Op-Ed

How do your beliefs line up with the candidates? A quiz can tell you

Erika Davidson sets up voting booths at the Panama City Beach Senior Center on Friday, Aug. 19, 2016, in Panama City Beach.
Erika Davidson sets up voting booths at the Panama City Beach Senior Center on Friday, Aug. 19, 2016, in Panama City Beach. AP

The internet site ISideWith.com purports to help us assess how our beliefs align with the various presidential candidates in this electoral cycle. Started by two friends with very different political views, the site says that it is not affiliated with any political party or interest group. Its objective is to educate voters and boost voter turnout. According to the site, more than 40 million voters have taken the quiz.

Intrigued, unhappy with the dominant political options and challenged by my wife, I decided to try it.

The quiz I took consisted of 89 questions divided into 11 issue categories: social, environmental, economic, domestic policy, healthcare, electoral, educational, foreign policy, criminal, immigration and science.

For each question a simple answer of Yes or No could be recorded, but also more nuance responses were offered. Each question also included a “learn more” link expanding on the question as well as an opportunity to rate the particular topic in terms of its importance to the quiz taker.

Granting all the imperfections and limitations inherent in this sort of assessment instrument, the quiz seemed well constructed and comprehensive, so I took about 20 minutes to respond thoughtfully to all the questions. Here’s the feedback I received:

According to the ISideWith.com algorithm, I side with Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson on 82 percent of this year’s election issues. The computer screen further instructed me that: “Your political beliefs would be considered modestly libertarian on an ideological scale, meaning you tend to support policies that promote social and economic freedom.”

ISideWith.com informed me that, I side with Libertarians on most economic and social issues. On science issues I side with Democrats, Socialists and Green Party. I side with Republicans on most foreign policy, domestic, environment, and healthcare issues. On election issues I side with the Constitution party, and on crime issues I side with Democrats, Libertarians and Green Party. Hmmm …

But ISideWith.com was not finished with me. It proceeded to analyze my thought processes. Apparently I am a moderate imperialist, meaning I believe we should proactively address potential issues before they turn into serious and immediate threats. I lean moderately toward laissez-faire since I believe government intervention in economic markets leads to long-term negative results.

ISideWith.com also labeled me as a slight elitist who often considers important decisions are best made by those with the most experience and knowledge. I am a moderate capitalist signifying I support an economic system that features private ownership of wealth.

In terms of privacy vs. security, ISideWith.com tells me I side with security, thinking government should do everything within its power to ensure the security of its citizens. I am a globalist and not a protectionist, judging that globalization is necessary to increase the economic strength, prosperity and standard of living of the nation.

I am anthropocentric reasoning that humankind is the central element of existence. ISideWith.com claims I lean slightly towards progressive, because I judge that we should be a nation that values personal freedom, expression, and diversity. And that I prefer decentralization, because I believe that administrative power and decision-making should be handled at the local level.

I am not a collectivist, but an individualist, supporting free-market policies that create opportunity for personal liberty and success. I favor deregulation deeming that government regulations often stifle innovation and economic prosperity. ISideWith.com explains that I am not tender, but lean slightly toward tough love with little sympathy for those who break the law or make bad choices.

I consider government overly bureaucratic, inefficient and wasteful. I lean moderately toward unilateralism and militarism, trusting we should use whatever force is necessary to protect ourselves against foreign threats. Who knew?

For voters of my generation, ISideWith.com may be inconsequential, but judging by the intense interest the site has generated among millennials, it might fulfill its aim of increasing voter turnout and help decide the next president of the United States.

José Azel is a Senior Scholar at the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, University of Miami and the author of the book “Mañana in Cuba.”

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