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What kind of political animal are you?

August 22, 2009

I don’t mean by the title donkey or elephant exactly.  Aristotle observed that man is a political animal–by which he meant that man by nature is a social creature.

At this point in our country’s history it is vitally important for every citizen to understand what kind of political animal he or she is.

The answers to the following four questions will give you an idea of where you stand.  Ask yourself, ask your elected officials and ask those you think you might want to vote for where they stand.

1. Do you believe that your rights are given to you by God or by nature, because you are a unique human being? Or do you believe that your rights are given to you as a member of a group: a collective, as in the country of your citizenship?

If the former, you are in agreement with the Founders and a conservative (classic liberal) or libertarian; if the latter, you are either a progressive, a modern liberal, a socialist, or a statist.

2. Do you believe in direct democracy: that every person should–even must–have a voice in the government and that the government must be directly responsive to the will of the majority?  Or do you believe that the majority can act too hastily under the influence of demagogues and produce tyranny?

If the former, you are a progressive; if the latter you agree with the founders that there is a tyranny of the majority which needs to be moderated with checks & balances in government.

3. Do you believe that history moves in a particular direction–whether linear or cyclical–and that the condition of mankind generally is constantly improving?   Or do you believe that history repeats itself and that while we can learn from history and despite the constantly improving condition of mankind, human nature itself does not change?

If the former you are a progressive–perhaps an idealist; if the latter, a conservative.

4. Do believe that government is best which governs least and that government is subject to the will of the people? Or do you think that government is the answer and that government can and should be used to shape society?

Again, if the former, you are conservative or libertarian; if the latter you tend towards statism in all of its forms (communism, fascism, democratic socialism)

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