Neither of the Two Political Parties Suit You? Here’s Why.

Boston Public Library

By: Bryan Caskey

So often we are told that the country is clearly divided into two groups: the Republicans and the Democrats, or it’s liberals and conservatives. And then there’s a small group in the middle that can’t seem to make up their minds – the undecideds. And each election cycle, the two groups try to win over these undecideds. Sounds simple and straightforward, right? Well, life is more complicated than all that, as it turns out.

Pew Research did a large survey and just released the results. They identified nine separate ideological groups.

Here’s an overview of Pew’s nine categories (to see where you fit, you can take Pew’s quiz here):

Faith and Flag Conservatives (10% of the public)

Committed Conservatives (7%)

Populist Right (11%)

Ambivalent Right (12%)

Stressed Sideliners (15%)

Outsider Left (10%)

Democratic Mainstays (16%)

Establishment Liberals (13%)

Progressive Left (6%)

You can read the NPR article that breaks down each group and describes it further. Anyway, thought this would be interesting to talk about. The picture at the top doesn’t have anything to do with the Pew Research survey. It’s just a picture I took last week of the main reading room in the Boston Public Library, and I really like the picture.

49 thoughts on “Neither of the Two Political Parties Suit You? Here’s Why.

  1. Norm Ivey

    I personally reject labels, but according to Pew, I am a Democratic Mainstay. There are some issues I view as a Progressive, some I view as a Liberal, some I view as a Conservative, and a remarkable number of issues I simply don’t care enough about to have an opinion.

  2. Doug Ross

    That the term libertarian isn’t used in the survey or the article casts doubt on it immediately. I 100% identify as libertarian: limited government involvement in people’s lives, vehemently anti-war unless attacked, freedom to do what one wants to do unless it negatively affects another person.

    It boils down to this quote:
    “Libertarians tend to embrace individual responsibility, oppose government bureaucracy and excessive taxes, promote private charity, tolerate diverse lifestyles, support the free market, and defend civil liberties”

    Many uniformed people try to paint libertarians as greedy and self-interested. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    We’re here, we’re clear, get used to it.

      1. Barry

        Libertarianism is not on the list above because it’s such a sham idea. It’s also embraced by such a small number of people, no one really takes it seriously except a few outliers.

        It’s full of hypocrisy and self serving ideas just like the Liberalism and Conservatism. It’s devotion to “spontaneous order” is interesting- but mainly because how narrowly they define it and how their definition ALWAYS serves their own self interest- just no one else’s self interest.

        I personally know one person I would consider a libertarian in my personal life. He’s a true believer (His wife even rejects his politics) He’s also someone that is impossible to deal with and is incapable of compromise in the slightest. As a result, people don’t take him seriously and just overlook him. He’s also a huge hypocrite because if you do down the rabbit hole with him- as I have done a few times- there are limits to his “individual freedom” screed. It’s when his own personal interests started to be crapped on, his devotion to individual freedom starts to crack.

        I think Libertarianism is looked down on because so many see such self serving hypocrisy with the entire idea of it.

        As someone else has put it – Libertarianism would have died out as a philosophy if it weren’t for the funding that’s been lavished on the movement by billionaires like Thiel and the Kochs and corporations like ExxonMobil.

        So : If they believe in the free market, why weren’t they willing to accept as final the judgment against libertarianism rendered decades ago in the free and unfettered marketplace of ideas?”

        1. Doug Ross

          Your single personal anecdote of another person you dislike is all the evidence I need to know libertarianism is dead.

          1. Barry

            I have to go with the 1 person I know that actually believes it and I’ve learned it’s a self serving crutch.

            Heck, he can’t even convince his own wife.

        2. bud

          I dabbled in the concept of libertarianism as a young man but as the idiotic ideas they pushed stated to add up I became disillusioned with their luny cult. They actually believed the free market could deal with pollution. Without government regulation. Somehow property rights would solve all. They also advocated for the repeal of all DUI laws. You could blow a .2 on a breathalyzer and still legally drive. Until you actually crashed into someone blood alcohol was not an issue. But the last straw was their advocacy for abolishing the US treasury. Apparently some esoteric currency like Bitcoin is the only money we need. None of their crap fits my worldview of pragmatism. Rather it’s a formula for anarchy.

          1. Doug Ross

            And yet you support Democrats who along with Republicans are 100% responsible for the state of the country.

            I’m fine with supporting personal responsibility, private charity, reduced government bureaucracy, and civil liberty.

            1. Barry

              I laugh a bit at the self described libertarians on social media complaining that a private company should be prevented from censoring their most vile posts

              The irony is always lost on them.

              1. Doug Ross

                Who does that? I’m more concerned about anonymous trolls who can’t bear to put their name on their opinions. I think they should be banned. It’s not censorship to expect adults to act like adults.

                1. Barry

                  Let’s not discuss this for the 100th time Doug. no one else here cares about this.

                  Until brad mandates full names, I’ll stick to my first name.

                  I don’t trust you to know my full name. I don’t need someone trying to attack me personally offline because of my opinion. That includes you.

                  I’m glad Brad allows people to post, within reason, without putting their full name out there.

                  Again, no reason to repeat the same old argument again.

                  1. Doug Ross

                    It’s not an argument, it’s a fact. You are afraid to post under your own name. Your paranoid delusion is why your opinions lack any credence.

  3. bud

    I believe in a worldview that values pragmatism. Unfettered capitalism is as destructive as socialism. Any system that allows one man to accumulate 1/5 of a $trillion is not pragmatic. Any nation that spends more on military spending than the next 10 combined is not pragmatic. Any nation that allows millions of its citizens to be destroyed for lack of healthcare is not pragmatic. Capitalism alone cannot provide its citizens a safe, clean and healthy environment to pursue a happy and prosperous life. Government involvement is therefore essential to a pragmatic society. A mix of socialism and capitalism is the best course.

      1. Bill

        Strolling through the radiated hall
        The news, the names, the symbols smear the walls
        Sprayed with every rule for both sides know
        They were disconnected long ago
        In the pictures, fighting for control
        Slipped the noose, went looking for a soul
        Destiny unknown

        I’m taking you down…

  4. Barry

    This was interesting.

    On his Sirius radio show this week, Michael Smerconish devoted an hour of his show to discuss this survey in-depth with some of the folks who put it together.

    The only category I would fit into is “former conservative”

    As someone who has shifted LEFT in the last 4-5 years and seen my wife do the same, I still would lean slightly Conservative on a few limited/isolated issues but I have evolved to reject Conservative ideology as it exists in the United States.

    I fall lean Left on most issues now but i don’t claim a category but there is the occasional issue that I would lean Conservative.

    I totally reject Trumpism, and America First idiocy – which is where the huge majority of Conservatives have magically found themselves because of their Messiah. Seeing people you have respected all your life abandon their so called “deeply held beliefs” in the matter of a few months was eye opening – and a place I’ll never return to again. I now understand why North Koreans can parrot their dictator.

  5. Joe Dew

    The problem with all political parties is that they stand for political power. Their aim is to seek, obtain, and hold power for as long as possible.

    They really do not give a damn about the people or the problems. They care only about the politics of it all.

    In 1986, we had something like a 1.69 million detainees at the Mexican border in a single year. We recently hit something like 1.71 million, this year, as a new record. So think of it this way: since 1986, millions of illegal immigrants have shown up at our doorstep. Both of our major political parties have labeled this a problem. Sometimes, they even elevate it to a crisis. But little has changed in the way we address it.

    Over that same stretch of years — decades really — we have had 7 different presidents (4 GOP, 3 Dems), 8 different speakers for U.S. House, and roughly a similar number of majority leaders in the Senate. Current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was elected 37 years ago. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was elected 33 years ago. Current Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer was elected a mere 23 years ago.

    So both parties have been around and had a turn in power multiple times since 1986. The Senate boss has changed. The Speaker of the House has changed. The challenge of immigrants at our Southern border has not changed. And it has not changed because it is too important a tool for each party. They use it to score political points, foment fear, stir up the passions of their voter base.

    Think of what we have accomplished in this country since 1986 — cell phones, personal computers, electric cars, U.S. space station, virtually hundreds of millions of passenger miles by jet with less than one-tenth of 1 percent passengers killed, drone warfare, figured out how to keep HIV from becoming an automatic death sentence, the human genome. I could go on. You get the picture.

    Political parties do little help. They help divide us, drive us apart, enflame our passions, and give us poor, pitiful, even laughable candidates for critical public office. There are many things that threaten democracy — including political parties and the people who pledge their loyalty to them.

    Joe Dew

    1. Ken

      So, Joe,

      please share with us you solution to the “challenge of immigrants at our southern border.”
      And how about all those who don’t come across the southern border. Do you have a solution there, too?

      1. Joe Dew

        We could start with a more civil discourse on what works and what does not with our current immigration system, then perhaps accept that this is a problem that is never going to end. We have to manage it and wisely. We cannot do it with a wall. We cannot do with a plan to send everybody back to where they came from. And we certainly cannot do it until we stop vilifying the folks who so desperately want to be here. We could also use a dose a truth from the U.S Chamber of Commerce, the construction industry, and the farming industry about why they must have folks from south of the border to make things work here.

        1. Ken

          Well, that’s a start, I suppose.

          Better, at any rate, than simply blaming politicians by suggesting that the “challenge of immigrants at our Southern border has not changed … because it is too important a tool for each party.” No, the matter has remained an issue — not just at the southern border and not just for the past several decades — mainly because of real economic and social factors that generate push-pull effects that have nothing to do with what this or that political figure might say. That’s what makes it such an intractable matter.

          1. Joe Dew

            I accept there are economic and social factors at play. Bottom line though is this: we lack a coherent, well-planned, understandable policy for how to handle migrants — legal or illegal. Our leaders have not gotten better at solving problems or meeting challenges, they have gotten worse. In large part, they have gotten worse because they are content to play political games rather than actually try to govern. It’s not about what some political figure says, it’s about those who are elected to positions of power and leadership actually doing the work.

            1. Ken

              Agree with half of that.
              ONE party has little to no interest in actually governing and preferring instead permanent campaign demagoguery.
              But the other party is still interested in giving government a go.

                1. Barry

                  It’s clear.

                  Democrats are proposing many solutions. now they aren’t perfect and some are nutty.

                  But Democrats, in general, believe Government can solve some problems. Sometimes they are wrong.

                  Republicans, especially the current crop, seem to want to try to fight cultural wars. Folks like Gym Jordan, Jim Banks, Matt Gaetz, Louie Gohmert, Rob Gosar are the republicans that take up all the oxygen in the room.

                  As Adam Kingzinger said earlier this year- Jim Jordan is only in Washington to raise money and raise his profile by going on tv. He’s never proposed any real policy change and the only thing he’s ever sponsored that passed was naming of post offices.

                  Someone was talking about Republican Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina last week about how, since he’s been in Congress, he’s not proposed one policy change. His entire persona is to try to fight cultural wars and generate campaign cash.= when he’s not illegally bringing knives to school board meetings.

                  An example of a conservative who wants to solve issues- Rob Portman and Pat Toomey. They are moderates who are focused on issues, not cultural wars. But they get almost no attention.

  6. Barry

    A few Monday notes:

    1) Alex Jones, the right wing flame thrower and Trumper has been found liable by a Connecticut judge for defamation regarding his incendiary accusations against Sandy Hook parents. Jones had refused court orders to turn over materials and records. Jones has now been found liable in two states- Connecticut and Texas. His actual financial penalty will be decided by a jury in a trial to be held in 2022.

    2) in Jon Karl’s new book, it’s detailed that Maria Bartiromo – the Fox Business host who Fox swears is a “straight news” anchor called Bill Barr a few weeks after the election and “shouted at him” that Democrats had stolen the election and he should be doing something to stop it. Karl talked to Barr on the record and recorded the interview. Barr told Bartiromo that she had “lost it.” (Meaning, she’s out of her mind)

    – Bartiromo would not comment about the report after being repeatedly asked. Fox News, after first refusing to comment, finally released a statement saying Bill Barr had shouted at Bartiromo but offered no additional info. Of course that’s laughable why he would shout at her. Oddly enough, no comment from Fox on why one of their purpoted “straight news” anchors would be calling the attorney general of the United States to complain about the election results.

    3) Friday night, Peril co-author Robert Costa was interviewed by Sirius radio broadcaster Michael Smerconish at the Ellis Wachs Endowed Lecture held at the Philadelphia Public Library.

    – Smerconish played portions of Costa’s comments today on his radio show in the 11am hour. Costa detailed how the Four Seasons Landscaping fiasco happened, how no one wanted to actually tell Trump how it occurred- Jared Kushner was finally tasked but didn’t want to do it.

    – Costa explained that Trump was at the private residence at the White House eating Pigs in a blanket and drinking diet coke late in the evening when his advisors were trying to pressure Kusher into telling him about the fiasco. Trump had seen parts of it being televised on cable news (Fox News of course didn’t want to play it since it was such a huge failure). Trump got more and more upset at Rudy G has news reports kept rolling in.

    – Costa also explained how Trump’s informal group of advisors had gathered at The Willard hotel in DC on the night of January 5th. Costa was actually waiting outside the hotel trying to gather information on what could be going on. Costa explained how Steve Bannon had warned, on his radio show on January 5th, that something was going to happen on the 6th. Trump – and conservative legal hero John Eastman- who authored the bonkers memo saying Pence could declare the electoral college vote null and voice was also in attendance. Costa stated there were random right wing violence promoter Proud Boy members also hanging at at the hotel at the same time- an odd scene at a place like The Willard.

    – Costa also said that Bannon had called Trump – who was in Florida – prior to Jan 1st and told him there was a way for him to win the election after all- even though the EC had already voted, and McConnell had already congratulated Biden. Trump didn’t really believe him but listened. Bannon explained his nutty theory- that Bannon and Eastman- the conservative hero Federalist Society lawyer and dreamed up- and Trump was easily convinced. Trump was prepared for his big New Years Eve party that he never missed. But Bannon convinced him to return to Washington- which Costa says surprised his closest advisors because they didn’t expect him back in DC.

    -Costa stated he believed the reason Trump was trying to block the National Archives from releasing records is because Trump’s phone records would be documented in that trove of information. If the records revealed Trump was calling Bannon or others at The Willard Hotel, and those at The Willard were shown to be be directing some of the Jan 6th activities behind the scenes, then all bets were off.

    – The DOJ has put together a grand jury to look into this issue.

    Costa made no predictions. But he did state there is a reason Trump is fighting so hard against releasing his records and it has nothing to do with “preserving the office of the Presidency” – and that no one- not even his closest advisors believe he cares about the office if anyone else is in the office.

    After all, Trump is the one who tried hard to undermine the office of Presidency for years before he was elected.

      1. Barry

        Thousands of Republicans flew to Florida last weekend to listen to listen to a 75 year old 1 term loser – trump – wax poetic for 90 minutes about 2022 and 2024. Those in attendance described the speech as “too long”
        ” depressing”
        ” angry”
        “stuck in the past”
        “unnecessary because we’d heard it all a million times”

        Yet, there all those Conservatives were sitting there like a drug addict crawling back to his dealer yet again

        But all those conservatives from all over the country didn’t fly down there to beg and grovel at his feet because “nobody else cares about” him anymore. No, they flew own there because they care immensely They care so much, they pall left what little is left of their morals and integrity back home

        The HOUSE GOP leader stood up yesterday in the House and enthusiastically defended the indefensible: a GOP congressman sharing a video of himself murdering a member of the House and violently attacking the President.

        As another conservative politician correctly stated yesterday- he did that for one reason: He’s scared Trump will not support him for House Speaker if he doesn’t defend a Trump supporting loon like Paul Gosar (a man whose own family has disowned him and said needs mental health treatment)

        So you can lie to yourself that no one cares about Trump, but no one else needs to believe such baloney.

  7. Phillip

    I was disappointed to be labeled an “Establishment Liberal”. Ugh, I hate to be called an “establishment” anything. Anyway, some of those questions are just SO broad. But for sure I am sick of having just two viable political parties, especially now when it’s either the seriously flawed Democratic party vs a party that seems dedicated to bringing the long story of American democracy to an end. I mean, what the heck kind of choice is that?

    1. bud

      Phillip, I too was labeled “establishment liberal”. What an awful label. I’m a proud liberal for sure but I’m more rouge than establishment.

    2. bud

      The Democratic Party is not perfect. But it really is all that stands in the way of abandoning democracy entirely. Frankly I’ve been mostly pleased with Biden so far except for his apparent helplessness in defending the principles of American democracy.

      1. Bryan Caskey Post author

        “The Democratic Party is not perfect. But it really is all that stands in the way of abandoning democracy entirely.”

        I really need to keep a list of bud’s hall of fame quotes.

        1. Ken

          A number of former Republicans agree with Bud. Among them Max Boot, Jennifer Rubin, Steve Schmidt and Stuart Stevens.

          1. Barry

            They have good reason given some of the actions of Republican legislatures where they are involved in redistricting actions that seem to be totally divorced from the realities of the demographic changes in their own states.

            But I suspect Conservatives understand well the only chance they have to govern going forward is to rig all the districts in their favor to such an extent that no matter how much the overall populations prefers Democrats, they will stay in power.

            of course eventually, that will lead to some tragic situations. You can’t live peacefully in a state or country where the minority constantly overrules the majority.

            1. Ken

              Speaking of redistricting, I read Ms. Teague’s statement on behalf of the League of Women Voters regarding the SC House’s redistricting plan, which the organization assessed as extreme in terms of partisan bias and uncompetitiveness. See:

              Be interested to hear what response the League has had from House members in reaction to the organization’s critique. From what I understand, it seems pretty much full speed ahead toward approval.

              1. barry

                I don’t suspect anyone will get a response from the GOP House or GOP Senate leadership.

                They aren’t interested in any critical comments. Their mission is to make sure Republicans win, not matter what occurs.

                IN republican states across the country, the restricting process is divorced from the demographics on the ground.

                But conservatives aren’t going to say anything – much like on this very board – ignore it- nothing to see here.

        2. bud

          Knock yourself out counselor. But simply making a snarky comment isn’t really isn’t an argument now is it? I took the Pew survey and on the the 0 to 100 grading of the 2 major parties I gave the Democrats a 70. Perhaps a bit generous but really the country undeniably does better when Democrats are in charge. The last 12 years under Republican presidents, Bush jr and Trump, the economy added essentially zero jobs. Trump actually managed to lose jobs for the first time since Herbert Hoover. With Democrats in charge since January, following BLS upward revisions for June-September, the economy has added an astonishing 4.621 million jobs (Feb-Oct). An impressive accomplishment. Yet alllllll we here about is this likely temporary uptick in inflation. And of course with all the publicity about this one high profile statistic people will reflect the negative press. Republicans have latched onto this in much the same way they did with Benghazi and Hillary’s damn emails. Republicans are great at messaging. Even if the message is weak.

          And after much angst and soul searching I reluctantly had to give the Republican Party a zero on the Pew survey. I tried mightily to find some reason to give them a 10. But at the end of the day the party of Lincoln has sadly turned into the party of Mussolini. Except they are incapable of making the trains run on time. For proof look no further than the Post Office run by Trumps man Dejoy.

          1. Barry

            notice how Bryan ignores a lot of Republican and Conservative actions.

            It’s the talk radio and Fox News strategy – ignore it or barely mention it means it really didn’t happen.

            Hey, I get it. I’d ignore that nonsense too since it’s indefensible.

            Yesterday, the House censured a Republican nut job. Fox News mentioned it when it happened in one 6 second clip and then didn’t mention it again all afternoon. Conservative media ignore it almost entirely.

            It’s sort of the Conservative way – ignore it.

            1. bud

              Only the 24th congressman ever to face censure. More than 11,000 have served. Yet conservative media ignored it. Shameful. And to be clear MSNBC is not the liberal version of Fox. They’ve spent many hour criticizing Biden’s border policy for one example. Sure they’re liberal. But they point out problems wherever they occur

                1. Barry

                  I don’t know what MSNBC reports. I don’t have cable tv and have no way to watch them.

                  I do know a little of what Fox reports because they people I follow will post clips of them.

                  For example, today at lunch I read a Mediate reporter’s interview she conducted with Fox News employee Pete Hegseth. He’s the 3 times divorced, family values promoter that left his last wife after having an affair with a Fox coworker.

                  It was funny in that Pete couldn’t admit that Joe Biden won the election (out of fear trump would get mad at him) and she asked him why he criticized the COVID rules of the Biden Administration but he didn’t every complain about the COVID policy of FOX news- which is more strict than anything Biden has mentioned. Pete had no answer, got mad, and walked out of the interview after 13 minutes. What a snowflake.

                  I doubt any cable show, talk show, network, business, etc is going to admit one of their employees lies.

              1. Barry

                Hey Bud

                did you hear the 2nd most powerful Conservative in the country – the GOP House Leader- trying to defend the video that threatened murder against a House member?

                It was quite a sight to behold.

                The family values, self serving version of Christianity promoting party had no issue with a video depicting the murder of a member of congress.

                oh those good ole Conservative values……..

                1. bud

                  The party of family values defends a candidate for president who brags about sexually assaulting multiple women. And they defend a violent insurrection. So why is it surprising that they defend a man for threatening the life of a congresswoman? But let’s not stop at their obvious shortcomings on family values issues. They also claim to be the party of fiscal austerity. Yet budget deficits always rise sharply during Republican rule. They also claim to be the party that is best to defend the nation. Yet thousands died on 9-11. They also claim to be the party that is best for the economy. Yet 11 out of the last 12 recessions started under a Republican president. And clearly they have no argument for the declining life expectancy during the Trump years. It’s laughable to watch this incompetent bunch go on and on about inflation. A circumstance that can largely be traced to Trump era tariffs against China. But they clearly know how to message. Even people who should know better like our resident counselor somehow manage to ignore facts and buy into their nonsense.

                  1. Bobby Amundson

                    Yup. National cult insanity; time to call it what it is. Perhaps thinning the herd is good.

                    I have had it with National Stupidity. TIME FOR CHANGE while balancing conservative VALUES (not politics).

                    Please comment Mr. Moderator!

  8. Bobby Amundson

    Love Is in the Air – John Paul Young
    Love is in the air, everywhere I look around
    Love is in the air, every sight and every sound
    And I don’t know if I’m being foolish
    Don’t know if I’m being wise
    But it’s something that I must believe in
    And it’s there when I look in your eyes
    Love is in the air, in the whisper of the tree
    Love is in the air, in the thunder of the sea
    And I don’t know if I’m just dreaming
    Don’t know if I feel safe
    But it’s something that I must believe in
    And it’s there when you call out my name
    Love is in the air
    Love is in the air
    Oh, oh, oh, oh
    Love is in the air, in the rising of the sun
    Love is in the air, when the day is nearly done
    And I don’t know if you’re illusion
    Don’t know if I see truth
    But you’re something that I must believe in
    And you’re there when I reach out for you
    Love is in the air, everywhere I look around
    Love is in the air, every sight and every sound
    And I don’t know if I’m being foolish
    Don’t know if I’m being wise
    But it’s something that I must believe in
    And it’s there when I look in your eyes
    Love is in the air
    Love is in the air
    Oh, oh, oh, oh
    Oh, love is in the air
    Love is in the air
    Love’s is in the air
    Love’s is in the air
    Love is in the air


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