People occasionally ask me how the Democrats and Republicans relate to our own parties. To the extent that they do and simplistically, the Democrats are of the left and the Republicans are of the right.

However, if you look at The Political Compass, you find that the main candidates are right authoritarians, lending further substance to Ron Paul’s accusation that there is little between them. No doubt the Compass has its weaknesses, but it’s much more helpful than a simple left-right axis.

Another explanation of the origins of the main US parties might be found in certain definitions of democracy and republic as forms of government: some believe the key difference is where power is exercised, by the people themselves or by their representatives. The United States was founded as a republic, not a democracy, in these terms.

What’s really interesting though, is that when you look at the recent history of the British parties — on the second chart here — you find that from 1972, the drift to right authoritarianism was inexorable across all parties, until in 2005, something happened to reverse the trend in one party. Please take a look for yourself.

Why not take the test and see where you fall?

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