Thursday, November 10, 2005

I Was a Teenage Socialist...

And apparently I have been more recently, too, if this test is to be believed. (Hat tip to Thunder for the link.) Normally I would use this instead of content, but this actually suggests something that might be worth saying... see below.

You are a

Social Moderate
(55% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(3% permissive)

You are best described as a:


You exhibit a very well-developed sense of Right and Wrong and believe in economic fairness. loc: (18, -175)
modscore: (2, 33)
raw: (331)

Link: The Politics Test on OkCupid Free Online Dating
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test
In other words, I am from the Upper Midwest region of the United States of America. I'm not sure that 'socialist' best captures it -- at least not anymore -- but there is a definite tendency in the Upper Midwest towards social moderation and economic liberalism (in the test's terms). This is very different than the sorts of liberalism that you find in the Northeast and the West (at least in California). In the northeast, speaking generally, liberalism tends to be more patrician, more a function of noblesse oblige, than in the Midwest. California tends to be quite liberal (and quite conservative at the same time), driven by a long tradition of iconoclasm. The Midwest is neither of these: it is blue-collar, working class, union, labor, and populist; as a result it tends to be hard-working, egalitarian, communitarian, common-sense. It is, as my results suggest, economically liberal and socially conservative to moderate.

Indeed, when one considers prominent senators from the upper midwest, past and present, it becomes clear: Paul Simon (D-IL), Paul Wellstone (D-MN), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Barack Obama (D-IL), Carl Levin (D-MI), Deborah Stabenow (D-MI). These all tend to be quite unapologetically liberal, but also intensely decent folks, popular in their home states, and unafraid to mix with the 'person on the street'. And if Russ Feingold represents this group (and I honestly don't know that he does), then they are not afraid to 'cross the aisle' and work for the good of the nation -- I have in mind the work Feingold did with John McCain (an intensely decent person also, and a conservative Republican) on campaign finance reform. (I don't think the work is done in that area, and I realize that there are compromises in this measure -- but the bipartisan work on behalf of the nation is laudable.)

Moreover, Milwaukee was the first major city to elect a socialist mayor, Emil Seidel, known for closing brothels and casinos, regulating taverns, founding the first public works, creating a public park system, and a police and fire commission. Wisconsin also twice elected a Socialist to the House of Representatives.

And the Upper Midwest is where I'm from. And in fact just this year I discovered that I had a distant connection with this populist liberalism. My great-great grandfather, along with serving in the Union army in the Civil War, was also active in organizing railroad labor unions. He was also politically active, and an associate of Eugene V. Debs, helping Debs in his five campaigns for the presidency. Yes -- that Eugene V. Debs. Intriguingly, my great-great grandfather and Debs grew up in the same town in Indiana; yet more suggestively, their families both emigrated from the same area of France (Alsace). So now you know.

But apart from the biographical revelation, my point is this: the Upper Midwest has its own political profile which is unique to itself, and flows out of its own history and ethnic profile. It cannot be reduced to either the liberalism on offer by the Democrats, or the conservatism of the Republicans, both of which are particular syntheses of issues, which typically issue from other parts of the nation.


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