Opinion Column

Political compasses don't help this columnist

BILL TIELEMAN

If any ideology is so serious that you can't have fun while you're doing it, it's probably too serious. - author Larry Wall

Are you right wing or left wing? Are you a social liberal or conservative?

What exactly is your ideology? And how can you tell?

Fortunately for politically confused Canadians, or those like me who confound description, help is at hand.

At The Political Compass website - http://politicalcompass.org - a short test shows where you stand and who's beside you.

This compass isn't a simple left-versus-right indicator but adds another dimension - from authoritarian to libertarian - to paint a more telling picture by dividing ideology into four quadrants.

Canada's Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, U.S. Democrat President Barack Obama and his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, are all grouped closely together in the middle-of-the-right-authoritarian quadrant.

But does it work? Consider my own contradictory political personality.

I'm a longtime supporter of the left wing New Democratic Party, but have run my own small business for 14 years.

I enjoy shooting handguns - I'm decent with a .45 Colt - and have also fired Thompson and Uzi submachine guns. But I strongly oppose ending the long-gun registry.

My beliefs include supporting choice on abortion and euthanasia, but I detest capital punishment.

I'm on the left but won't visit communist Cuba because of its dictatorial government.

My opponents describe me as a champagne-sipping socialist in Armani clothes and they're correct - unless I'm being an XO Cognac connoisseur in Dolce & Gabbana gear.

I fought the unfair BC Liberals' carbon tax, drive a 5.0 liter V-8 Mustang GT and was screamed at in public by David Suzuki; but I oppose the Enbridge pipeline and want more public transit.

The politician whose home I've visited the most isn't an NDP leader, but instead that of former right wing Social Credit premier Bill Vander Zalm.

So where do I fit on the Political Compass?

Somewhere to the left and more libertarian side of retired South African President Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Buddhist leader.

Very good company to keep - but despite the compass, I'm still confusing.


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