James Leroy Wilson's blog

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Ever-Changing Presidential Candidate Selector

Thanks to Steve Scott, I found out there were changes in the 2008 Selectsmart Presidential Candidate Selector, that I blogged about last week. This is altogether necessary and appropriate, and I imagine changes will be continuous all the way until the first Tuesday in November, 2008.

I believe there are now more questions, but they are now just given "high" and "low" priority, with no "medium." On any question I found insufficiently nuanced, I rated a "neither" or "none" and the calculator created a new "ideal candidate" for me and rated real candidates against that.

Against my 100% ideal, Republican Rep. Ron Paul of Texas scored a very strong 96%. Next up, however, was a curiousity; the only third-party candidate in the running, although there are dozens. This one is a Libertarian, but I see no point in mentioning his/her name because no other Libertarian candidate was listed and I have no reason to assume I would have scored lower with any of them.

The "high/low" priorities with no medium made some things more difficult. Iraq and foreign policy are to me the "highest" of the high priorities, but there is no way to judge only them high without making other issues seem so "low" as to be unimportant and distort the score. I did what I could.

I understand what Steve Scott meant when he said:

As usual on polls of this type, I can't help but question the reasons for each question. I had no more than 3 selections that were not answered "neither," so without the pollster having a clue as to what I do believe about each issue, how is it even possible to match me with a candidate? Some of the questions are impossible to answer anyway because the question is either the wrong one or disqualifies itself by its contradictions. Question 3 about balancing civil rights and security creates a false dichotomy, because these two items go together, and are not on opposite sides of a balance. Civil rights ensures individuals with the rights and responsibilities of defending themselves with arms, even numerous arms, creating security. The false dichotomy is based on the reality that enabling one to defend himself is itself viewed as an act of terrorism because of the strong emphasis on so-called security.


Perhaps that's just a good argument to take the test every month or so until the election - to see how the questions change, and to see how you yourself have changed. It shouldn't be the ultimate determinant of who one should support, but it can be a valuable guide.

I've come to realize that any questions that are sufficiently nuanced to satisfy me are to that extent distorted for others. Everyone is different. That's the damn shame about politics, and about everything. It's also the blessing.

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