According to this online Jon Haidt-based questionnaire, I’d say Time magazine did a pretty good job of guessing my political orientation: 66 percent conservative, 34 percent liberal. Note well that there are no political questions on the quiz; they’re pretty much all culture-based, and correlated with the preferences self-described conservatives and liberals choose. Here are my “liberal” answers and “conservative” answers — but I’ve put them below the jump, so you won’t get an idea of which answers are liberal and which are conservative before you take the (short, quick) test:
You like cats more than dogs
You prefer documentaries over action movies
You have a messy desk
You like fusion cuisine
You use a modern browser
You prefer the Met to Times Square
You think kids should respect authority
You think self-control trumps self-expression
You think the government should treat the lives of its citizens as much more valuable than those of other countries
You don’t think your partner shouldn’t be looking at porn alone
You think the world benefits from nations and borders
You’re proud of your country’s history
So, what exactly is “liberal” about preferring documentaries to action movies, cats to dogs, and the Metropolitan Museum to Times Square? This: most people who gravitate to liberal politics (statistics show) hold these preferences. Similarly, I don’t know what is especially “conservative” about being proud of America’s history, on balance, and believing that kids should respect authority. But people who gravitate to conservative politics (statistics show) endorse these nonpolitical views.
Interestingly (to me), I take the “conservative” positions on borders, self-control, authority, American history, and government treating the lives of its own citizens as more important for reasons that many liberals probably wouldn’t guess. Borders, because of the importance of localism and local control. Self-control and authority because of the importance of good order and the ability to self-govern to the exercise of liberty. Proud of American history not because we are perfect, but if you survey history and look at what a botch peoples and nations have made of government, the miracle is that we’ve been as good as we have been — and that we have maintained the capacity and the willingness to improve. Finally, if the American government cannot be expected to put the welfare of its own citizens over those of people of other countries, what kind of government is it? I would expect the same of the French government, the Turkish government, and every other government on earth. This is absolutely not to say that Americans are the only people who should matter to the US government (or to the American people); we absolutely must not be the sort of people who disregard the rights, welfare, and opinions of others. It is only to assert that as a general matter, it’s perfectly right and reasonable that our government should put the interests of our people first.
Bottom line: I think this short online quiz did a decent job of predicting where I come down politically based on my answers to these 12 questions. Did it work for you?