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Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Burn On Me

posted by on August 7 at 13:49 PM

According to this “Pick a Candidate” tool, the presidential candidates with whom I most agree are, in order:

Kucinich (we disagree about No Child Left Behind)

Clinton (we disagree about a ton of things, including the death penalty and same-sex marriage, but the relative importance of various issues bumped her into second place)

Gravel (we disagree, disturbingly, about nothing)

Dodd (again, lots and lots of disagreements, including the proposed fence along the Mexican border)

Edwards (we disagree about the death penalty, No Child Left Behind, the PATRIOT Act, and same-sex marriage)

Richardson (he opposes the assault weapons ban, among other things)

and, finally, Obama (we disagree about same-sex marriage, the border fence, and the PATRIOT Act).

Leaving aside the questionable value of a ranking system that excludes viability as a factor (if I wanted to throw my vote away, I’d vote for FDR), this rating system has some obvious shortcomings. Each issue you’re concerned about gets one of three “weights”—“key,” “important,” or “meh.” (You can also say an issue is not a factor or that you’re unsure where you stand.) “Meh” gets one point, “important” gets two points, and “key” gets five. So issues that are “key”—in my case, abortion rights, ANWR drilling, Kyoto, torture, universal health care, and the minimum wage—are given a weight far out of proportion to those I consider merely “important”—No Child Left Behind, Guantanamo, various Iraq-war-related issues, and a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. And others I ranked as “meh”—meaning that I have an opinion about them but they aren’t really a big factor in my decision—still count for or against the candidates. Thus it’s probable that the ranking system will give too much weight to some issues and too little to others. Looking at the issues matrix on 2Decide, for example, it’s pretty clear Kucinich came out ahead because he opposes the death penalty, the border fence, and the PATRIOT Act, and supports same-sex marriage. (Those issues also helped bump Gravel up.) However, as a pragmatic Democrat (i.e., a Democrat who wants the Democrats to win), I can see room for compromise on at least two of those issues, and maybe all of them. Among the three frontrunners, the candidate I most agree with on the issues that I consider important is actually Obama—the lowest-ranking candidate on my list. Edwards, whom I’m leaning toward at the moment, comes in second, but only by virtue of having more nuanced positions than Clinton on a couple of issues, and by being a stronger advocate for impoverished Americans and universal health care, something a matrix like this one can’t pick up on.

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Why not vote your conscience in the primary and vote pragmatically in the general? Have we gone so far down the road of lesser-of-the-the-evils politics that you're worried about throwing your vote away in the primary?

Posted by flamingbanjo | August 7, 2007 1:54 PM

Gravel 46
(you have no disagreements with this candidate)

Posted by monkey | August 7, 2007 2:02 PM

Though all of the issues are important, the issues that are key for me, jobs, infrastructure, reducing crime, are not on the list. I guess these are considered local issues.

FWIW, I got the exact same results as ECB, though I suspect we differed on a few things.

Posted by elswinger | August 7, 2007 2:05 PM

I deduce you support No Child Left Behind. While it sounds like something we all need to support, the program has been largely an unfunded failure. Low performing schools are now doing all sorts of things to increase their test scores - very little of which has the goal of graduating a well-rounded, educated student. Teachers in Los Angeles, for example, now spend a majority of their day teaching to pass a standardized test. Critical thinking in that kind of environment goes out the window.

I want to believe the goal was praiseworthy, but ultimately its panned out to be more Wonder Bread from a nutritionally-deficient administration.

Posted by Bauhaus | August 7, 2007 2:09 PM

Gravel 31

I must be the only person in the world who thinks we should have a real border wall AND a path to citizenship for everyone already here.

Posted by K X One | August 7, 2007 2:32 PM

Erica- If I remember correctly Obama was against the fence. Does that mean youre for a fence on the Mexican border?

I recall when the amendment for the fence came up in the last immigration bill, Obama and Cantwell voted against the fence. Am I mistaken?

Posted by SeMe | August 7, 2007 2:33 PM

Bauhaus, I think ECB's against NCLB because she and I agreed and disagreed with the same candidates pretty much.

I also had no disagreements with Gravel. Very weird. Why does Kucinich SUPPORT NCLB?

Posted by arduous | August 7, 2007 2:42 PM

What disturbs me is how many of the "cool cats" are for the mother fucking patriot act. What the hell? That's really bothersome.

Posted by catnextdoor in abq | August 7, 2007 2:46 PM

Gravel: 61, no disagreements. He comes off badly, but I have known he has the same stance as me on lots of things. Why does Clinton/Edwards support Iran military action?? WTF?

for me it goes:


Very interesting.

Posted by Original Monique | August 7, 2007 2:50 PM

I think people just like the phrase "No Child Left Behind." How can you be against anything called that?

Posted by elswinger | August 7, 2007 2:52 PM

Why doesn't it include factors like, "He's a goddamn dick?" That would knock a few points of Kucinich right away.

Posted by Gitai | August 7, 2007 3:05 PM

Kucinich (he's a vegetarian!) was mine too. I supported him 4 years ago and I still think he rules.

But with viability it goes to Richardson all the way. I like him, his ideas, his centrist stances on key cross isle issues and his environmental record is better then anyone. Plus he has 4 Nobel peace nominations... who better to get us out of the war and back into dialog with the Muslim world?

Posted by Ryan | August 7, 2007 3:08 PM

No. 4: No, I'm against No Child Left Behind. Kucinich voted for it.

No. 6: Obama supports a fence along the border with Mexico.

Posted by ECB | August 7, 2007 3:19 PM

Ooops. My bad, Erica. Sorry.

It's just on the recent Democratic debate Edwards et al. bad-mouthed NCLB. I didn't check voting records.

I feel informed.

Posted by Bauhaus | August 7, 2007 3:26 PM

I got negative 36 for Brownback and negative 70 for Hunter. I must hate the shit out of Hunter, whoever he is.

Posted by S | August 7, 2007 3:32 PM

Wow. My list:
Kucinich (72)
Gravel (60)
Dodd (45)
Clinton (44)
Paul (4) Who I disagree with on just about everything, but still got a positive score.

And I must hate the shit out of Hunter too, whoever he is, he got a -72.

Posted by meh | August 7, 2007 3:40 PM

This was kind of a test of how you weighted your responses. I put in exactly the same agreement/disagreements as Erica (or so I surmise by having the exact same disagreements with candidates as her) but I got Obama right next to Clinton. Having already read her post though, I used the "key" button only for deal-breakers.

Posted by john | August 7, 2007 3:44 PM

ALSO what affects Gravel and others, particularly Thompson, is having many issues on which they have no stated position. That's why Kucinich scores higher than Gravel despite having no disagreements with Gravel and one with Kucinich. I'm sure that's why Thompson, in the republican section, was up there with Giuliani and McCain for me, even though I hear he's a bigger fascist than them.

Posted by john | August 7, 2007 3:47 PM

There is more to a candidate then simply issue positions. Experience, political skills, temperament, personality, pragmatism, etc are all important. Kucinich and pebbles, while perhaps ideologically sounds, are severely lacking in many of these regards.

Posted by Giffy | August 7, 2007 3:55 PM

The BORDER FENCE? Hillary, I'm comin' home.

Posted by Grant Cogswell | August 7, 2007 4:26 PM

kucinich. then gavel. hmmmm......

Posted by infrequent | August 7, 2007 4:35 PM

kooch, clinton, gravel...

ron paul got an 8, which is about right because i'm an isolationist, too.

for a second, i thought i agreed with Duncan Hunter, but it was a NEGATIVE 50.

Posted by maxsolomon | August 7, 2007 4:37 PM

The list is geared to produce a Kucinich result, whether they designed it that way or not. That's why something like 2/3 of the people taking it end up with him on top. There are no economic questions at all -- nothing on the deficit, nothing on taxes, capital gains, the Federal Reserve; and there's very little on foreign policy beyond Iraq and Iran. Those are the most important areas! Basically it's a list of hot-button moral issues.

Posted by fnarf | August 7, 2007 4:51 PM

You and me both, Erica.

But, remember, it won't matter since our caucus will be after most of the nation has already voted the previous week.

Well, actually, most will vote January 4th, since ballots go out January 2nd in most big states. And then counted in February.

Posted by Will in Seattle | August 7, 2007 4:53 PM

sounds like you need to re-weight your preferences.

Posted by josh | August 7, 2007 5:11 PM

Kucinich 79
Gravel 72 (no disagree)

In the 30s, descending order:

Paul is actually positive, at 19. That's because of his ardent opposition to torture and wiretaps and so on.

The rest of the GOP field is negative, with Romney at -80.

I'm surprised Clinton is at the top of those who have electability and personality. All but Biden are grouped between 36-39, which shows there's not much difference between them, and they all fall short of ideal. But fnarf is right that economic policies were underrrepresented. I suspect that's why Edwards rates so low, even though my hunch is that he's the best of the top tier policy-wise. Paul would be negative if economic issues were included.

Posted by Cascadian | August 7, 2007 6:00 PM

It's all well and good to discuss positions and nitpick about this or that policy. But really people, the ONLY yardstick that matters is which one of them can keep the inevitable whackjob Republican out of the White House. All the Dem candidates are a million times better than the likes of Giuliani, Rommey, fucking Fred Thompson...

Posted by Matthew | August 7, 2007 6:51 PM

Matthew: that's why I'm anti Hillary. I think Giuliani would beat her in the general if he gets it.

Posted by Dianna | August 7, 2007 8:23 PM

Mr. Fire and Brimstone, I-got-nuthin-to fucking-lose, Al Gore, is gonna come in smokin' 2-3 weeks before the primaries that actually count (whenever/wherever), and roll right over Mr. Law and Order Fred Thompson. But guess who's counting the votes...

Posted by Kristafarian | August 7, 2007 11:05 PM

When Dan Savage wrote this in Oct. 2002 he was saying that the death of children in the Iraq war was acceptable.

\"War may be bad for children and other living things, but there are times when peace is worse for children and other living things, and this is one of those times. Saying no to war in Iraq means saying yes to the continued oppression of the Iraqi people.\\\"

So why don\\\'t we apportion Dan Savage his fair share of the carnage in Iraq? Let\\\'s arbitrarily assign him responsibility for the death of, say, an eight year old Iraqi girl. That sounds about right doesn\\\'t it? That still leaves 649,999 dead Iraqis to be apportioned out to Bush and the neo-cons and other war supporters.

Posted by Erik | August 8, 2007 12:20 AM

This thread and article makes me angry and sad. There is something profoundly lame about Erica and the so called progressives like her. Explain to me why having the same beliefs as Gavel is “Disturbing” Erica? Watching intelligent progressives trying to rationalize their support for the Democratic party is like watching a battered wife make excuses for their asshole husband. What retarded the spirit of progressives in this country? What made apathy and the willingness to eat the bullshit capitulation Democratic party such a hallmark of American liberals? Papers like the Stranger.

Posted by GJ | August 8, 2007 12:59 AM

Interesting result when I took the test: I'm all for a Universal Health Care program. It doesn't show any disagreement on that issue with Edwards, Clinton or many of the other candidates. While Edwards and Clinton may say they are for UHC, they have yet to propose such a program or it's funding. I call bullshit.

Posted by B.D. | August 8, 2007 6:26 AM

Who the hell is Gravel anyway? I'd say that generally this seems about right. And I would never vote for Kucinich or this unknown Gravel person. Richardson will be gone before I ever get a chance to cast a vote (but i'd support him for Veep ecspecally on a Hill & Bill ticket).

The forerunners are about even on this in terms of lining up with me on it will come down to nuances that cannot be measured in a simple poll. And we know people don't always vote based on who they agree with on policies.

Kucinich 53
Gravel 49
Richardson 32
Clinton 31
Edwards 31
Obama 30
Dodd 29
Biden 24
Giuliani -1
McCain -4
Paul -8
Thompson -14
Cox -31
Brownback -39
Huckabee -40
Hunter -50
Tancredo -50
Romney -51

Posted by Pro Choice Lesbo | August 8, 2007 1:36 PM

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