Political Spectrum
As Wikipedia defines it, "a political spectrum is a way of modeling different political positions by placing them upon one or more geometric axes symbolizing independent political dimensions". The range of political positions in this country are universally understood to be encompassed by a spectrum from left to right of center. This spectrum is displayed visually in several formats, a circle, a half moon, four quadrants, and two others we will explain below, a square box, and a straight line, etc. The most usual and easiest to handle is the straight line. Center being the true north of rational views on any issue. Left of center representing the more liberal or free thinking, unrestrained viewpoints. The right of center representing more conservative, traditional and responsible viewpoints. The square box is based on the Nolan Chart created by libertarian David Nolan. There are variants of this model such as the Pournelle chart developed by Jerry Pournelle in 1963, a two dimensional box chart but with different axis. Another variant is the "world's smallest political quiz" which rotates the Nolan chart to a diamond shape. The ADVOCATES for self government administers this quiz to help anyone quickly determine where they reside on the political spectrum. Take the "world's smallest political quiz" to find out where your views reside on the spectrum. Another quiz is available from Dr. Tim Groseclose, a 40-question quiz that allows you to calculate your "Political Quotient". At the end of the quiz, Dr. Groseclose also lists politicians who have PQs similar to yours. Or, take the "TIME Magazine quiz" to predict your political perspective. In the 3 columns below you will find updated stories on the political views (spectrum) of candidates and issues as they apply to us today. How do your beliefs align with 2016 Presidential candidates? Take the quiz.

Are We Free to Discuss America’s Real Problems?

by Amy Wax,
from Imprimus,
January, 2018:

There is a lot of abstract talk these days on American college campuses about free speech and the values of free inquiry, with plenty of lip service being paid to expansive notions of free expression and the marketplace of ideas. What I’ve learned through my recent experience of writing a controversial op-ed is that most of this talk is not worth much. It is only when people are confronted with speech they don’t like that we see whether these abstractions are real to them.

The op-ed, which I co-authored with Larry Alexander of the University of San Diego Law School, appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer on August 9 under the title, Paying the Price for the Breakdown of the Country’s Bourgeois Culture. It began by listing some of the ills afflicting American society: Too few Americans are qualified for the jobs available. Male working-age labor-force participation is at Depression-era lows. Opioid abuse is widespread. Homicidal violence plagues inner cities. Almost half of all children are born out of wedlock, and even more are raised by single mothers. Many college students lack basic skills, and high school students rank below those from two dozen other countries.

In what became perhaps the most controversial passage, we pointed out that cultures are not equal in terms of preparing people to be productive citizens in a modern technological society, and we gave some examples of cultures less suited to achieve this: The culture of the Plains Indians was designed for nomadic hunters, but is not suited to a First World, 21st-century environment. Nor are the single-parent, antisocial habits prevalent among some working-class whites; the anti-‘acting white’ rap culture of inner-city blacks; the anti-assimilation ideas gaining ground among some Hispanic immigrants. The reactions to this piece raise the question of how unorthodox opinions should be dealt with in academia—and in American society at large. It is well documented that American universities today, more than ever before, are dominated by academics on the left end of the political spectrum. How should these academics handle opinions that depart, even quite sharply, from their “politically correct” views? The proper response would be to engage in reasoned debate—to attempt to explain, using logic, evidence, facts, and substantive arguments, why those opinions are wrong. This kind of civil discourse is obviously important at law schools like mine, ... But academic institutions in general should also be places where people are free to think and reason about important questions that affect our society and our way of life—something not possible in today’s atmosphere of enforced orthodoxy.

So what happened after our op-ed was published last August? A raft of letters, statements, and petitions from students and professors at my university and elsewhere condemned the piece as racist, white supremacist, hate speech, heteropatriarchial, xenophobic, etc. There were demands that I be removed from the classroom and from academic committees. None of these demands even purported to address our arguments in any serious or systematic way.

A response published in the Daily Pennsylvanian, our school newspaper, and signed by five of my Penn Law School colleagues, charged us with the sin of praising the 1950s—a decade when racial discrimination was openly practiced and opportunities for women were limited. ... an open letter published in the Daily Pennsylvanian and signed by 33 of my colleagues.

Of the 33 who signed the letter, only one came to talk to me about it.


Disliking, avoiding, and shunning people who don’t share our politics is not good for our country. We live together, and we need to solve our problems together. It is also always possible that people we disagree with have something to offer, something to contribute, something to teach us. We ignore this at our peril. As Heather Mac Donald wrote in National Review on August 29: “What if the progressive analysis of inequality is wrong . . . and a cultural analysis is closest to the truth? If confronting the need to change behavior is punishable ‘hate speech,’ then it is hard to see how the country can resolve its social problems.” In other words, we are at risk of being led astray by received opinion. The American way is to conduct free and open debate in a civil manner. We should return to doing that on our college campuses and in our society at large.

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