A New Political “Spectrum” (in 3D) That Makes Sense Out of the American Domestic Political Landscape:
Summary: Even in a two-party system, politics behave like unstable alliances rather than like something that can be graphed on one or even two dimensions. (The one-dimensional left-right spectrum is particularly inadequate.) Introducing a new political diagram — in 3D — that can account for unstable alliance behavior, and makes vastly more sense out of the American domestic political landscape in a way that focuses on the public, for the public good.
The reader may have come to this discourse seeking narcissistic validation, but they should put it aside in favor of seeking understanding. Narcissistically plotting one’s own political beliefs (which is what some political quizzes/diagrams focus on) accomplishes nothing and provides no lasting happiness; but what does cause lasting happiness — by definition — is living in a paradise, and that is this author’s goal: to show the way there. It turns out that understanding the political sphere is important for citizens to do in order to live in a paradise. Stabbing one’s political allies in the back, name-calling using the wrong names, remaining confused about one’s allies’ and enemies’ motivations, and generally not understanding what is strategic or politically possible are all things that lead to mayhem in the political world, ending in tragedy and nonsense. All of these are rampant right now, more so than during previous periods of recent memory; and — in particular — are happening in the US because US Americans do not have sensible ways of thinking about the political landscape. This 3D diagram provides the solution. It will lead to a more paradisiacal society (at least to some degree), if only we use it.
This discourse unentangles political positions that have, over time, become conflated. As a taste of what is to come: it points out, for example, that to be Liberal is completely separate from being Leftist, subscribing to the Leftist position is completely different from Progressivism, the Right Wing position is completely divorced from the essence of Conservatism, and more. Interestingly, some of these positions are closer in kinship to others, which creates a unique strategic landscape. As it turns out (amazingly, by chance), the major domestic political attitudes can be arranged into a 3D model that fits together to express it all with beautiful perfection. Finally, any individual can have their political attitudes modeled in this 3D cube; several famous American politicians — such as Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Jefferson, and Eisenhower — are indeed modeled and on display.
“Go toward the center — toward the opposing candidate’s position.”
According to the Median Voter Theorem, this is the single piece of policy advice handed down to any candidate who fears underperforming within their two-party system’s election … and it’s theoretically valid — assuming, of course, that we’re using the left-right spectrum model of politics. But that advice is some of the worst that any candidate or party can follow in the whole of politics. Political scientists and politicos have known for many decades that this advice is a flop; therefore, so is the model it’s based on: the left-right spectrum.
It almost need not be emphasized that the left-right spectrum is simplistic, but the spectrum’s continued ubiquitousness does raise the issue of why it persists in the media and in day-to-day conversation. The answer is that it’s easy. Those who do know better than to use it have done so only as a kind of shorthand, when they’re too tired or lazy to articulate what they really mean. That being said, the one-dimensional spectrum isn’t completely divorced from reality: it can actually represent something real — but only after the votes are counted in a two-party system. Its utility does stop there, however. There is no understanding to be gained other than the fact that two voting blocks exist in a two-party system.
The 2D model (Authoritarian vs. Libertarian, Left vs. Right) that Libertarians have put forward — though popular — is still far from descriptive enough to make accurate sense of the political sphere — especially today. It may be mildly cathartic to mark down a politician’s or voter’s essence in this 2D model; but, after doing so, no added enlightenment about the situation follows. There is nothing to think about — nothing further to discover.
Enter here the 3D domestic political “spectrum”*, which I drew and illustrated. It describes the political sphere as a cube — which is close enough, I’d say. In a two-party system, an incentive arises to make an alliance out of 4 of the 8 positions.
*(Technically, only a 1D model would be a “spectrum”; a 2D model would be an “area”, and a 3D model would be a “space”.)
This model continues the tradition of pitting true opposites along the opposite ends of spectra (for clarity’s sake), and the greater number of available political positions draws our attention to key differences that exist within the voting blocs of political allies — differences that have often been ignored or conflated. This diagram depicts — in physical space — those philosophical differences. We can account for it with our eyes now how truly wide some of the gulfs between them really are, even though generations of alliance may have served to downplay the everyday awareness of the magnitude of the differences. In the diagram, the most pure form of a political attitude is found at a corner of the cube, and that corner’s most distant corner is the other end of that spectrum, philosophically. Distance plays a great role in the diagram, in all directions; physical distance is equal to philosophical distance, which is something that a list/matrix — or even flattened wheel — of four spectra is not sufficient to convey.
Another benefit of this 3D model (as opposed to anything a 2D plane can do) is that it can be construed to demonstrate how politics can be inherently unstable, even in a two-party system. It will be rare that an individual finds him-/herself in the very middle of every single important spectrum;; the reason being that people choose a paradigm through which to see political struggle; and, if they vote at all, they find some significant camaraderie with at least one side on at least one spectrum. That leaves the very center of the cube quite depopulated. Political alliances form and break and swirl around the edges.
Here is the drawing, on its 8,1/2 x 11 in. page; which — forsooth, to take care to prevent one’s bewilderment — must at first not be looked at all at once.
Modeling a person’s domestic political attitudes simultaneously on these 4 spectra in a simple way simply yields twice as much information as does the 2D model. The simple way to represent that information would be with 4 separate points inside the cube (perhaps of different colors, coded to the different spectra); and, if one were going to do that, they might as well just flatten the cube to two dimensions. However, the rules I describe for this diagram — that define the positions relative to each other in space — allow for even greater elegance and significantly more information than that to be imparted: for one thing, the diagram allows a person to indicate which spectrum or spectra (is/are) most important to them, as opposed to the things they merely have an affinity for. In other words, the 3D diagram also distinguishes between what a person really is vs. what kind of sympathy/affinity they may find for any of the political attitudes that they care about secondarily. This is accomplished by creating a single ‘point’ (or fundamental place within the cube’s space) to denote the nearest corner (or nearest equidistant corners) as being “most important”; and then denoting sympathy/affinity by using the proximity of that point to other corners, plus vectors (or arrows) that make up (or, by pointing to the opposite side, subtract) the difference. Are we understood?
It’s enough now to know this much about the rules, geometry, and modeling within the space; a more thorough explanation about these is provided later on. Now, notice that, because the 6 non-opposite corners of a cube to one of its corners are not all similarly distant from it; and, since proximity matters; the rules imply that, on a cube, some political attitudes are more closely related than others, which is perfect since it really is the case with many of these political positions, philosophically. Amazingly, it so happens that the most famous and important domestic political attitudes can be put into a perfect arrangement on this cube. (More on that under the heading “The Beauty of This Arrangement”.)
In the course of this discourse, we will also explore why a couple of popular terms were not chosen to be included; and, near the end, we will investigate and model — in 3D space — certain famous politicians’ domestic political attitudes. These include Jefferson, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders (as well as others, such as Eisenhower and Washington, who are hard or impossible to categorize using either the left-right spectrum or the 2D model).
Vanity and the prospect of fodder for gossip about famous politicians may intrigue some enough to learn the ways of this 3D model, but that’s not the appeal I make. This model is important for other reasons. Accurately modeling people’s political attitudes helps the whole society make good decisions about who can get along with whom, therefore what strategies are rational and beneficial to pursue. With a model that fits together so perfectly as this one does describing the complex political landscape, it would be a terrible shame to throw away that accuracy and understanding — and with them, the potential for greater social harmony.
In order for us to make sense out of this diagram, we have to be clear on exactly what the terms at the corners mean, but before we approach that, there’s one last meta thing about this model to keep in mind: that this is a “domestic” political diagram. It doesn’t include anything to do with economics (or any political attitudes that have economic reasoning as a component of their eventual conclusions). Neither does it include any international policy attitudes (such as “Isolationism”).
The 8 Corner Positions, Explained
On the subject of the names of these things, it should be noted that, in the popular mind, political terms may change their meaning with the political winds. They may change — in the public’s perception — for no explicable reason, or else perhaps due to the intentional influences of localized demagogues (such as those on AM radio). But this diagram ignores the fashionable understanding of terms, opting instead for the terminology overwhelmingly used by scholars around the world, over the long-run.
The diagram’s page, being full enough already, doesn’t include any exposition on the eight political attitudes; instead, the micro-drawings/icons are meant to convey their essences. The place to describe those attitudes with more specificity is here, in this discourse. If you already understand how these words are used, scroll down to “The Beauty of This Arrangement”.
Progressive vs. Conservative
In the diagram, “Progressive” is opposite to “Conservative” and these terms refer purely to a person’s tendency to want to try out change for society. (Next to “Progressive”, a little icon of an upper case delta — which is a scientific symbol for ‘change’ — has a golden crown above it; i.e., ‘change is king’.) Those who care most about maintaining the course the country has set, or had set at a previous time — whether out of a natural inclination to revere tradition or not — will want to resist trying out new things, thus be “Conservative”. It appears that in every successful, stable civilization; a contingent always exists that resists change for no apparent reason, so that if a change is desirable, a strong argument in favor is still required. Thus “Conservative” has been a force to be reckoned with, and is included here, opposite to “Progressive”.
Leftist vs. Right Wing
The opposite corners, “Leftist” and “Right Wing”, describe diametrically different preferences for how resources and social credit should be divvied out among society: either to the many, or else to allow them to accrue to the ‘greatest’ at the top of the social hierarchy. In the micro-drawing under ‘Right Wing’, a tiered pyramid depicting the social hierarchy shows the top two tiers as much taller than the others, and the ones nearer the top are brighter, too. The pyramid becomes grungier nearer the bottom, and less laced with gold. Gold edges circulate to higher tiers (via the golden arrows) and represent resources trickling upward. Finally, glorious light (representing great deeds, the good life, and apparent skill/merit) emanates from the towering, thin, entirely-golden, top tier. In previous centuries, those of the extreme Right Wing actually wanted not merely to allow, but to facilitate, a transfer of credit and resources from those at the bottom to the aristocrats, clergy, and king;; however; in American politics, it’s not acceptable to suggest anything beyond allowing it to accrue at the top on its own. The difference between Right Wingers and Leftists then becomes a matter of the perception of justice, where no answer is necessarily, objectively right nor wrong.
The “Leftist” corner depicts a bleeding heart, which is meant to imply an extremist position regarding wealth redistribution; namely, that a person with a ‘bleeding heart’ sees someone else who is below an arbitrarily-pre-determined level of poverty/well-being, and, as an uncomplicated response, wants to simply give them resources — as long as the resources are taken from a wealthier source (even if it’s taken by force). The simple response made by those at the extreme corner of the Leftist position does not paint a picture of a deeply-thoughtful justice algorithm. One might say the same, however, for that of the extreme Right Wing corner, summarizing the latter’s algorithm in only two words: “bah, humbug”.
Liberal vs. Medievalist
Because the diagram depicts absolute opposites, and because “Liberal” is such an important, common term and such a historical force; it’s included with its opposite (Medievalist); the latter of which is the only political position that no one vocally identifies with in America today, but must be named. “Liberal” refers to the ideas that came to fruition during the Enlightenment that were mostly a political reaction to the idea (and its offspring) that ‘might makes right’; Liberalism thus revolved around a new conception of morality that implied the existence of ‘right and wrong’ when it comes to political behavior. The ideas of the Enlightenment that had any political implications came to be known, collectively, as “Liberalism”; they include ideas about the existence and nature of human rights/inalienable rights, the social contract, ideal and just government types and behaviors, the rule of law, and the freedoms of speech, conscience, religion, and more. Out of this revolutionary body of ideas sprang the US Constitution (with its Bill of Rights) and the foundations of civic culture in America, as well as The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen in France. This is why the icon for ‘Liberal’ depicts the US Constitution and its Bill of Rights.
“Medievalism” can be thought of as comprising all of those old ideas that grew increasingly unpopular during The Enlightenment Age, to which Enlightenment thinkers reacted against in the first place. These ideas — such as ‘the divine right of kings’ — justified any action that anyone might want to take if they merely had the power to take it. From the inquisition to torture to theft to contradiction — all things were permitted by the logic of the Medieval mindset, save sometimes the “sins” listed in a holy book. A thoroughly Medieval person ignores ethical reasoning; in their eyes, arguments that categorically demand religious tolerance, freedom of speech, or refraining from political assassination carry no weight. For slightly more depth on the natures of the Liberal and Medievalist positions, see the second discourse in this series, On Why The Social Justice Warrior Ideology Is Fundamentally Medieval.
A side note on ‘Liberal’ and ‘Medieval’:
adopting this model as the way in which to view the American political sphere has many benefits, but one of the greatest (at this particular moment in history) is that which ultimately comes from the conceptual separation of ‘Liberal’ from ‘Leftist’. Although many politicos use these two L-words interchangeably, their non-colloquial meanings are highly distinct from each other — about as distinct as ‘Liberal’ is from ‘Conservative’, and that’s important. By using this 3D political model, we can better connect current events and see why the historic voting bloc that has included both Liberals and Leftists is currently fractured. The second discourse in this series, On Why The Social Justice Warrior Ideology Is Fundamentally Medieval, goes just a little ways into the history of how Liberalism’s adherents have had their forces bolstered by Leftists, as well as what current problem threatens to sink their centuries-long alliance. The lack of understanding about their own allies’ attitudes and motivations is a significant aggravator of this fracture, and this 3-discourse series is intended to remedy at least that.
Anti-intrustion Libertarian vs. Security & Health & Safety Statist
Libertarianism is too broad a political agenda to be able to refer to the whole of it on a solely-domestic political spectrum, such as this one; which is why the corner of this cube that describes only those domestic parts of that agenda labels it as ‘Anti-intrusion Libertarian’. That is to say that Libertarianism manifests in the domestic realm as an attitude that resists intrusion by the government into personal affairs and choices. The icon chosen for this position is a re-drawing of the timber rattlesnake from the “DON’T TREAD ON ME” Gadsden flag. From tip of the tongue to the end of the rattle, this drawing is so small, it can be completely covered by an American quarter.
The opposite corner to this position is properly called “statist”, but, once again, must be constrained to the domestic realm, so is a certain kind of statist: a ‘Security & Health & Safety Statist’. Symbolized by a traffic cone on the one hand, and, on the other, an eye glaring through the lock of a door; this political attitude stands in favor of the state involving itself both in compelling individuals to do that which will improve the immediate health, safety, and security of the whole, as well as advocating for the surveillance required to compel obedience to the laws. “Immediate” is the key term in the previous sentence; it’s up for political debate whether sacrificing the privacy and free-agency of individuals is actually hurtful to the long-term health, safety, and security of a competent society.
A solid supporter of this kind of statist attitude will demand that the government make laws to keep individuals from harming themselves, even if the self-harm doesn’t harm anyone else. For example, the advocates of the ‘war on drugs’ — who quite simply favor controlling the substances that individuals can put into their bodies — are at least highly sympathetic to this political attitude. Just as one lazy man — they might argue — can, one way or another, be materially well-off when, due to high purchasing power, everyone in the society around him is an overachiever;; yet if he follows his own, personal, relaxed-life preferences; his is an attitude that, if everyone were to live that way also, would lead them all to be poor; so imposes an economic “burden” (one might call it, or, alternatively, a “free-rider problem”) upon the rest, even though it doesn’t constitute legal harm to anyone else. In that spirit, extremists of the Statist attitude may argue that individuals’ decisions about their own preferences can’t always be “accepted”; therefore, in judgment on behalf of society, they will make decisions in favor of health, safety, and security based on their own preferences (rather than those of the individuals involved). Extremist subscribers to this attitude will generally also push in favor of surveillance and against limitations on governmental privacy-invasion. This attitude, however, is a mere baby step away from Medievalist’s reasoning on the subject of privacy; namely, to ignore assertions about the rights of individuals that call to be secure in their persons, papers, and private information lest the state have so much information that it can essentially prosecute or harass whom it wills as it pleases.
The Beauty of This Arrangement
Note that these spectra are not thrown into a 3D arrangement arbitrarily. When two attitudes naturally share some kinship, they share an edge, since the distance along an edge is shorter than the distance between a corner and its diagonal opposite along a side. (29.28…% shorter.) So “Liberal” is naturally slightly closer to “Leftist” than “Right Wing” — physically and philosophically — because both extreme Liberals and extreme Leftists reject the “egoism” that is part of the extreme Right Wing position. Liberalism, because of it’s insistence on a right to privacy, also shares a closer kinship with Anti-intrusion Libertarianism than with the extremist Statist corner; and, because Liberalism is a philosophy that is supposed to be based on reason instead of tradition, is naturally amenable to thoughtful societal change, thus Progressivism, rather than Conservatism.
Part of the beauty of this diagram is that an observer can recognize the pattern starting from any position. The Leftist position is generally slightly less comfortable with Libertarianism than with the Statism that emphasizes health and safety. The extremist Progressives are more prone to force change via an overactive Statist attitude rather than keep the government from putting its nose in, as the Libertarians would stop it from doing. Even the extremist Right Wing — though generally considered to be extremely close to Conservatism in common speech— is actually more comfortable with the Progressivism of a rapidly changing world, spearheaded by “the best” people, rather than putting the brakes on society’s changes via Conservatism. The true Right Wing extremists, such as the subscribers to Ayn Rand’s perspective, generally salivate at the thought of change. Similarly, the Right Wing often complains that if Leftists got their way, change — especially in industry — would be too slow due to capital being siphoned away from business leaders and toward workers. So Leftists, they say, are too backward-looking and content with the status quo, thus are too comfortable with Conservatism. Pro-union, blue-collar workers, for example, tend to fall near the edge between Leftist and Conservative.
So all of this means that to model, for example, the political attitudes of a Liberal who is neither Leftist nor Right Wing (true neutrality on that spectrum), a short vector would emanate from their point, at ‘Liberal’, and peek out towards ‘Right Wing’, just a little ways. Once again, the fact that some of these most important domestic political attitudes are more closely related than others, and that it just so happens that this can be perfectly modeled in this cube, means that correction-vectors don’t need to be used when a pure position is described.
Notes On Terms NOT Included
This 3D diagram not only eclipses the 2D model endorsed by the Libertarian Party, but it outright contradicts one big assertion that the 2D model claims: that Libertarianism is the opposite of Authoritarianism. Not only this, but the term ‘Authoritarian’ is excluded from this 3D model. Authoritarianism’s opposite is not Libertarianism; rather, its opposite is “anti-Authoritarian” — a more nebulous concept that could refer to anything from Liberal to Anarchist to Libertarian to Hippy. Meanwhile, ‘Authoritarian’ is not synonymous with ‘Statist’, which is the true opposite of ‘Libertarian’. So since Libertarian and Liberal are such important positions to include, and since their opposites both overlap Authoritarianism, there’s no place for the latter in this political diagram. Yet those whose attitude could be described as Authoritarian would generally fall near the edge of the cube between the Statist and Medievalist corners.
Similarly, the term ‘Classical Liberal’ has gained greater traction in recent years, but this too, for some of the same reasons, isn’t included in the diagram. ‘Classical Liberal’, as a term, emerged in the 19th century to describe Liberals who incorporate some Laissez-faire economic reasoning into their political conclusions; but since this is a purely domestic diagram, such a position would be ineligible. However, we can say that Classical Liberals will generally fall near the edge of this cube between the corners of ‘Liberal’ and ‘Anti-intrusion Libertarian’.
Before providing purely educational examples of how to model political attitudes in this space by modeling some famous American politicians, we should be a little more clear on the rules of the space. The “Rules” section of the diagram’s page describes all this succinctly, though strictly. For the cursive-averse, the text of those rules is transcribed here:
1. Opposite corners are diametrically opposed attitudes.
2. Space outside of the cube is undefined.
3. A person’s domestic, non-economic political position is represented as a single point inside the cube, plus generally* up to two vectors (arrows) emanating therefrom.
4. The position of the ‘point’ inside the space of the cube describes what a person truly, fundamentally is in proximity to all corners.
5. The vectors (arrows) describe sympathy/affinity for other positions; the percentage of their angle deviance from the most aimed-at corner to another indicates the relative weighting of those sympathies; and the longer the vector, the stronger the sympathy.
6. Vectors (arrows) must not point to exact opposite surfaces; such would self-negate.
7. The ‘grain’/orientation of vectors (relative to a given point) matters greatly.
*rarely, 3 vectors are required.
The Grain and the Space
Notice that the ‘grain’ (like the grain of wood) matters greatly. Suppose we have two extremist candidates — one pure Leftist and one pure Medievalist — who each have only one vector and whose respective vectors point all the way over to each other. These two candidates (because they’re at the corners where the other six attitudes don’t respectively define them almost at all via proximity to their points) would be extremely similar even though their fundamental locations are most of the way across the political space from each other. That is why the grain matters greatly. Nearly the only difference between them is that they prioritize their fundamental and secondary attitudes in a different order.
But the grain must lie along the same linear direction from both candidates, respectively, in order to consider them to be highly similar. For example, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton — if we are to use the models below — do not lie along the same grain. Even though Hillary Clinton has a vector that reaches over toward where Sanders’ point is located, he has no vector reaching toward her point. So we can see immediately that two candidates like these, running against each other, present a clear difference to most voters.
There’s a great deal of complex, interesting information that can be quickly understood by using this 3D political space. The two-tiered rules (i.e., the way that the point is a fundamentally different category of preference than the vectors, which are, in turn, a person’s secondary priorities) can be used to model almost any combination of attitudes. The rules on the page state — although it could have been clearer — that a person is something, not merely in terms of affinity, but fundamentally; i.e., they prioritize this one fundamental attitude over their affinities for others (unless there’s a dead tie between different attitudes not on the same spectra, in which case, the person’s ‘point’ is located half-way between). This can be interpreted this way: when not exactly half-way between, then whatever quadrant (or “octant”, as the case may be) that the ‘point’ is located in is the fundamental essence of the person, and how close their ‘point’ is to the corner indicates not only how far they are from the extremist version of that attitude, but also, by proximity to all six of the other corners, affinity to those others, which is the equivalent to vectors closing the distance. Furthermore, vectors can travel towards a corner to cancel out the affinity of an opposite corner. So almost anything can be modeled, assuming sharply divided, two-tiered preferences — anything except a 3-way tie for essence on one plane, or, much more commonly, a tie between essences whose distances to their respective edges are not identical. The fact that the mathematics don’t work out perfectly for every single case is not so important. This higher-information-imparting system of rules trades slightly limited accuracy for more comprehensiveness and comprehensibility, and it’s worth it.
Modeling the Stances of Some Famous American Politicians
Now it’s time to examine and model some famous American politicians’ political attitudes. (Note: the following models are one person’s estimates. Biographers of said politicians are likely to be able to much more accurately pinpoint exactly what their attitudes truly are or were.)
Sanders is, first and foremost, a Leftist; but isn’t quite a bleeding heart; thus his point is represented as staying some short distance from that corner and from the edge that would indicate the same. It also says something to draw a short vector from his point toward the corner that he’s already nearest, thereby deliberately articulating that he’s sympathetic with extreme Leftists. Sanders is more than just moderately sympathetic to Liberalism; slamming opponents of the Freedom of Speech and calling upon others to eschew ‘identity politics’, his point nudges toward the ‘Liberal’ corner, and, just to make that connection clear, he is modeled with a vector that climbs close to it. He’s also very much a Progressive.
Hillary Clinton described herself as a Progressive during the 2016 run for the Presidency, but, according to the way the terms are used in this diagram, that’s not how she would be categorized. She’s primarily a Security & Health & Safety Statist who had previously demonstrated support for the War on Drugs (though she has withdrawn her support, citing practical reasons); she has also been in favor of domestic surveillance programs that have pushed up against individuals’ rights to privacy. She broadly agrees with the Liberal position, but has been somewhat more focused on Leftist concerns. Though pushed by her primary challenger in 2016 to embrace numerous bolder policies, she actually tends toward Conservatism rather than wanting to try out much that is particularly new for the country (besides, of course, electing a woman to the Presidency).
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Eisenhower is an especially interesting case. Having been courted by both major political parties; he chose the more conservative, then went ahead and pushed through numerous programs, policies, and major works projects that were not only a Leftist’s dream-come-true, but drastically changed the way that America works. He greatly expanded Social Security, spearheaded drives for major scientific investment in both research and in education, as well as created NASA, the Interstate Highway System, and various other greatly-influential institutions. He’s thus un-categorizable in both the 1D and 2D models as anything other than an extreme Leftist, but he can be more accurately placed in 3D. Eisenhower thought of domestic issues as being a means to an end; namely, putting the US on good footing at an international level. This meant that his domestic motives were pliable and, in a sense, non-committed. He sold himself to the American public as a “progressive conservative”, which is political gibberish; but this didn’t cause public wariness nor antagonism since his appeal came not from staking a claim to particular domestic positions — rather, he had already demonstrated his virtues to the American public when militarily leading the Allies in WW2. So Eisenhower lands in one of the depopulated places inside the cube: near the center, a little toward the ‘Progressive’ corner. He was highly willing to change the country’s institutions and operation, so his vector climbs very close to the ‘Progressive’ position, even though he was reticent to try to change people socially. His initiatives indicate his readiness to spread resources to the many, if only to take advantage of raw US talent and to manage international perception; so a vector toward ‘Leftist’ indicates this in his model. Disgusted by McCarthyism; he was also quite an Enlightenment Liberal, upholding many of the values upon which the country was founded (though he practiced some corrupt realpolitik on the international level). Domestically, he should be given a relatively strong vector to indicate that affinity.
Thomas Jefferson can be modeled in a straightforward fashion — he was about as Enlightened and Liberal as anyone ever was. He drafted legislation for Virginia that guaranteed religious freedom and he later helped Lafayette to write the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. Jefferson asserted that some rights, such as those of religious belief, were not merely pragmatic to bequeath, but were natural. His place in the cube is nestled in the corner of ‘Liberal’, with a vector that points toward the edge shared by ‘Conservative’ and ‘Anti-intrusion Libertarian’, angled more toward the latter.
George Washington is at the very corner of ‘Liberal’, also with a vector aimed at ‘Conservative’. How would one categorize him on the left-right spectrum?
James Madison, considered to be the father of the US Constitution, has his placemat set.
In fact, in the interest of saving time, we’ll let on now that almost all of the US Founding Fathers were clustered right in Liberalism’s corner.
A Theory of Alliances
A lot can be gained by thinking through the ramifications of this 3D model, especially when it comes to thinking strategically about one’s political allies and enemies.
For example, if there were a large number of citizens crowded around one corner, say, Leftist, who began to develop an affinity for Medievalist sensibilities, it would force any Liberal allies they might have to break with them and fight their old allies, diminishing the size of their voting bloc. It’s important to know ahead of time that that kind of thing might happen.
By helping to visualize how political alliances form and break and swirl around the edges, thus how politics is unstable even in a two party system; this 3D model is a great improvement upon the simpler-dimensioned ones. It’s possible to transpose 4 spectra onto two dimensions, but then the possible ways that a voting bloc might be created becomes hard to see. Three dimensions really helps. The distances between the positions can even be mathematically analyzed to show that voting blocs that are built around a plane are more tightly knit (and share less affinity with an opposing bloc) than a voting bloc of 4 positions that are built around a central corner. (But we’ll leave this mathematical analysis to another article.) There are other truths (based partly on math) that can be gleaned from an analysis of affinities that cross bloc lines — either those of the candidate themselves or of their opposition’s attitudes about that candidate — but all of that is better addressed in a dedicated article that might be called The Theory of Alliances.
Ultimately, in summary, this model can be used not only to understand one’s allies, but to strategize about expanding to create a winning, highly-desirable political alliance. If broadly utilized for that purpose; political parties may be able to put together more palatable, desirable political stances — in the eyes of the citizens, anyhow — than when simplistic models were relied upon. Widespread adoption of this model may even lead to greater theoretical self-consistency within major political parties’s platforms, thus an increased emphasis on reasoned discussion and a slightly decreased reliance upon fear-mongering and demographic capture/pandering. And, of course, it would lead to less political back-stabbing and chaos. These, in turn, would lead to better policies being adopted, and a happier public.
Stay tuned for (potentially) that essay dedicated to a more in-depth analysis of The Theory of Alliances, and for the second discourse in this series: “On Why The Social Justice Warrior Ideology is Fundamentally Medieval”.
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