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A New Political Spectrum
The liberal-conservative spectrum we are accustomed to is a gross simplification and distortion. Labeling someone as "liberal" or "conservative" often obscures the true political views of someone. This is true of any one-dimensional measure of political opinion, of course. But it seems that there could be an alternative to the liberal-conservative political spectrum: one that more accurately reflects what people consider important.
I believe I have found such a spectrum: the evil-stupid spectrum.
It is a simple fact that a politician must lie to get elected, with very few exceptions. Why, you ask? Because for every truth, there is always a lie that sounds better. I suppose it's possible a truth-teller can defy the odds and win an election occasionally. But one can only defy odds for so long. Eventually, the truth-teller will run against a skilled liar, and will then have to lie or lose the election.
Now, to lie to the public, you either have to be intentionally dishonest (i.e., evil), or naive enough to believe the truth of what you are saying (i.e., stupid). That's where the evil-stupid spectrum comes in: it determines whether a candidate is mendacious or naive. (If I wanted to be more precise, I could call it the mendacious-naive spectrum, but I am not interested in political correctness here.)
Evidence of the usefulness of the evil-stupid spectrum
I say the evil-stupid spectrum more closely represents what people, unconciously, consider important. As evidence of this, I invite you to consider the Presidents of the United States over the last century:
You will notice that, although the public fluctuated freely between Republican and Democrat, the choice of evil or stupid has been more consistent. That should tell you that this evil-stupid spectrum is more aligned with the national conciousness. It forms a definite pattern in the Presidents of the last century, while the liberal-conservative political spectrum yields no rhyme or reason to the selection.
How does evil-stupid correlate with liberal-conservative?
The only question left is how does the evil-stupid spectrum correlate to the liberal-conservative spectrum? It seems that most conservatives tend to be stupid, whereas liberals tend to be evil, but that's only a tendency. A look at the above table will confirm that there were more stupid Republicans and evil Democrats.
In fact, the Presidents that I am not so certain about the evil/stupid status of, namely Wilson, Eisenhower, and Clinton, are opposite of this tendency.
Nevertheless, there are very evil conservatives and very stupid liberals, and it seems that when voters "cross over," they do it (unconciously) because of evil-stupid sympathies.
Update April 30, 2011
Barrack Obama, while he was campaigning, I originally placed in the Evil category. After having experienced two years of his presidency, I'm now putting him squarely in the Stupid category. (In fact, I've jokingly called him Barrack W. Obama several times....)
As you can see from the chart, after decades of Stupid, America seems poised to enter a phase of Evil Presidents. This leads me to believe that Obama is likely to lose the next election. There are at least three notable Republicans exploring presidental runs who are squarely in the Evil category (Donald Trump, Newt Gingrich, and the very Evil Rick Santorum).
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