There are a few web sites that I absolutely, passionately love.
But there’s one site that becomes very important at least every 4 years, and that’s:
From a letter they wrote to the Independent, the folks at OnTheIssues say their goal is "to rejuvenate democracy". OnTheIssues.org/Speakout.com essentially helps clarify a person’s political position by listing many if not most of today’s prevailing political issues and possible stances one might have on each. Y’know – the stuff a lot of politicians try to avoid… as you’ll see by the "no stance" entries on many of the candidates.
It’s run by an independent body that purports to be non-partisan. (I say purports because it’s primary staff is made up of folks that appear to have ties to the Democratic party with relationships to Harvard & Columbia both of which are fairly well known for their demonstrative political leanings)
In a nutshell, what they do on the site is:
They list out all the candidates and based on statements they’ve made in the past, (with quotations and references) establish what their general opinion is.
They list out the issues and help clarify what each issue is about and what potential stances you may take on them. It subdivides peoples opinions into 4 classes: Strongly agree, Agree, Oppose, and Strongly oppose, and defines what each stance might be in English for each issue.
They have a quiz online that will ask you your opinion on each issue and actually match you with the candidate that most closely meets your opinions. Note: There’s no prioritization possible with the issues so it weighs each issue equally but that being said, it’s kind of a neat feature nonetheless – especially for people that really don’t have a clear opinion.
I don’t think Americans even think of half of the stuff on this site before they go to the polls and that’s why I think it’s so interesting. I think most voters have 3 or 4 issues that they harp on and vote that way without considering the bigger picture.
This is probably the best way to at least get off to a good start in considering that bigger picture.
What did I score? (He asks as he laughs at the web page results listing candidates with political leanings close to his) Well, if I know you personally, ping me and I’ll send you the link to my results but like I said, I think this is a at least a good start – even if I don’t think my first couple of candidate results were that accurate. What I wish you could do in the quiz is weight certain topics more than others to prioritize issues that are really important to you over those that aren’t.