2008 Burn On Me
posted by August 7 at 13:49 PMon
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.