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ISideWith.com Can Help Increase Voter Turnout and Decide the Presidential Election

By: José Azel - Aug 8, 2016, 9:38 am
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Gary Johnson is the third-party candidate in this year’s US presidential election (youtube).

ISideWith is a website that purports to help asses how our beliefs align with the various presidential candidates in this electoral cycle. Started by two friends with very different political views, ISideWith avows it is not affiliated with any political party or interest group. Its objective is to educate voters and boost voter turnout. According to the site, over 37 million voters have taken the quiz. Intrigued, unhappy with the dominant political options and challenged by my wife, I decided to try it.

The quiz I took consisted of a total of 89 questions subdivided into eleven issue categories: Social, Environmental, Economic, Domestic Policy, Healthcare, Electoral, Educational, Foreign Policy, Criminal, Immigration and Science.

For each question a simple yes or no answer could be recorded, but also more nuanced responses were offered. Each question also included a “learn more” link expanding on the question as well as an opportunity to rate the particular topic in terms of its importance to the quiz taker.

Granting all the imperfections and limitations inherent in this sort of assessment instrument, the quiz seemed well constructed and comprehensive, so I took about 20 minutes to respond thoughtfully to all the questions. At the risk of coming across as egocentric, I will share with the reader my ISidewith’s political profile to illustrate the feedback.

According to the ISideWith algorithm, I side with Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson on 82 percent of the 2016 election issues. The site further instructed me that: “Your political beliefs would be considered modestly libertarian on an ideological scale, meaning you tend to support policies that promote social and economic freedom.”

ISideWith informed me that I side with Libertarians on most economic and social issues. On science issues I side with Democrats, Socialists and Green Party. I side with Republicans on most foreign policy, domestic, environment and healthcare issues. On election issues I side with the Constitution party, and on crime issues I side with Democrats, Libertarians and Green Party. Hmmm…

But ISideWith was not finished assessing me; it proceeded to analyze my thought processes. Apparently, I am a moderate imperialist, meaning I believe we should proactively address potential issues before they turn into a serious and immediate threat. I side moderately toward laissez-faire since I believe government intervention in economic markets leads to long-term negative results.

ISideWith also labeled me as a slight elitist that often considers important decisions are best made by those with the most experience and knowledge. I am a moderate capitalist signifying I support an economic system that features private ownership of wealth.

In terms of privacy versus security, ISideWith tells me I side with security, thinking government should do everything within its power to ensure the security of its citizens. I am a globalist and not a protectionist, judging that globalization is necessary to increase the economic strength, prosperity and standard of living of the nation.

I am anthropocentric reasoning that humankind is the central element of existence. ISideWith claims I lean slightly toward progressive, because I judge that we should be a nation that values personal freedom, expression and diversity. Also that I prefer decentralization, because I believe that administrative power and decision-making should be handled at the local level.

I am not a collectivist, but an individualist, supporting free market policies that create opportunity for personal liberty and success. I favor deregulation deeming that government regulations often stifle innovation and economic prosperity. ISideWith explains that I am not tender, but side slightly toward tough love with little sympathy for those that break the law or make bad choices.

I consider that government is overly bureaucratic, inefficient and wasteful. I lean moderately toward unilateralism and militarism trusting we should use whatever force is necessary to protect ourselves against foreign threats according to ISideWith. Who knew?

For voters of my generation, ISideWith may be inconsequential, but judging by the intense interest the site has generated among millennials, it may very well fulfill its aim of increasing voter turnout and help decide the next President of the United States.

José Azel José Azel

Senior scholar at the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies at the University of Miami. Azel was a political exile from Cuba at the age of 13 in 1961 and is the author of Mañana in Cuba. Follow @JoseAzel.