Yesterday a far right militia group, several members of the Oath Keepers, were formally charged with seditious actions related to Jan.6, 2021.  I expect this is just the beginning of the serious indictments, which will come over coming months.  At the same time is the crucial political decision making about voting rights for all of we citizens.  Two good summaries come from Heather Cox Richardson, and Digby.    UPDATE Jan. 15: an interesting commentary on yesterday’s Supreme Court decision throwing out the mandate regarding Covid-19 mandates. These are crucial issues for all of us.


In my previous post, January 9, I spotlighted a Quiz I had seen in the New York Times last fall “If America Had Six Parties Which Would You Belong To?”.  You can read about the references here (note paras two and three).

I did the assessment, which has 20 very simple multiple choice questions, each with three to five options, and got an instant score, graphed (below, the green dot is me), and accompanied by several pages of text.

I show this not because I got the ‘right’ answers – there are none of these – but rather to indicate where I perceive myself to be on the survey makers idea of the American Political Spectrum.  The Instant Report notes that my answers were “closest to the New Liberal Party” which, it suggests, includes about 26 percent of the electorate, one-fourth of Americans.

The author describes my cohort as “the professional-class establishment wing of the Democratic Party.  Members are cosmopolitan in their social and racial views but more pro-business and more likely to see the wealthy as innovators.

I think the survey read me basically correctly.

I did the assessment twice more, the first, answering every question in a wishy-washy (my term) way; the other in the position most in opposition to my own.

‘Wishy-washy’ came out closest to the Patriot Party, “the party of Donald T’s 2016 primary campaign”, best fitting about 14% of the electorate.

The most opposing position to my own went to the Christian Conservative party comprising about 20% of the electorate.

Of course, this is simply a model, and the names of the Parties are arbitrary, but these are real issues and real attitudes held by real people, including myself…often, seemingly, diametrically opposed.  But we have to live together in a common society….


Reader, I propose a personal exercise for you.

You probably know me, at least from how I portray my priorities at this space.  You also have a pretty good idea of your own political philosophy.  

Can you come up with four other people who you actually know, who might fit in the other categories named in the above analysis.

Write the names down so you can personalize your reflections….

What if you were stuck, permanently, in a place where there were only the six (or seven) of you, each one from one of these groups, and you had no choice but to work everything out to simply survive?  Or to thrive, beyond just survival.

How would you do it?  How would it work?

What if the system was winner take all, and you weren’t on the winning side?  How does the winner benefit without the wisdom of the loser?


We are a nation of 330,000,000 people, and it is a given that we cannot survive in a divided society where somebody wins, the others lose.  The question becomes how does our society survive, given a devotion to “winning” at any cost?

In a ‘win-lose’ system only one can win – witness the Super Bowl soon to bring the nation to its knees – at least attention wise.  The Game dominates everything on The Day of the Game.

The process is now in play, winnowing down the teams to a single Winner.  In the end, who really wins, anything, and for how long?  Fame is fleeting.  I pose this question, whether you can do the survey or not.


The analysis above accounts for 100% of the electorate.  (The three groups I headline, total 60%).  No “side” has a plurality.

Our societies future is not a simple question with a simple answer.  We live in a real world, where none of us have the luxury of pretending others with differing priorities not only are wrong, but don’t exist.

Long and short, folks, we’re stuck with each other.  How do we proceed?

The U.S. presidents and the U.S. Capitol, ca 1905. All Presidents shown up to and including Theodore Roosevelt (second from right). Found in the basement of the North Dakota farmhouse of my grandparents, who came to North Dakota in 1905.


from Jane in rural Minnesota: Our county DFL [Democrats] and I are making comment signs to put along roadways.  Bits of shared understanding that underly DFL  positions.  This replaces the severely limited newspaper options we have here.

Secondly, I hope to help start a digital nonprofit newspaper, since all our village papers in the area were bought up and killed.  A long project, but important.  More on that in the future.
from Dick in response: That is a good comment!  It is difficult to communicate these days.  We no longer have a weekly newspaper in Woodbury, so the social network stuff is about the only option.  Yours is a great idea.

from Jane: Thanks.  It’s based on the MinnPost model.  And NO firewall!! They don’t.  I recommend their weekly email posts, and signing up for them.

There are starting to be grants out there for nonprofit newspapers. This is the future I think.
As we will have several villages represented on our  website it will have a section for each village’s news.  Then we do a weekly post for each village, to those who sign up for it. There is an example of this is Chicago, where each neighborhood has their own section and weekly post, but one umbrella media.

from Brian in New York City:  As concerns division, I have my post, too, which I’ll share with you:


I listen to/read stuff both on the left and right.   Far left and far right sometimes.    What I find encouraging is both sides are acknowledging that the USA is going through a period of divisiveness and we need to stop this.     This is a good first step.


What I appreciate both about Trump and Biden is that neither was/is a warmonger.   That’s my first priority.


And now to go back in time some.  We have divisiveness now.   Well, my hero, Lindbergh, was an anti-Semite.  This forces me to be a fence-sitter.  It’s like our founding fathers, some were slave owners.  And?


Here’s an item about an influential priest from the 1930s—it shows we were divisive back then, too!:


Father Charles Coughlin, was a Canadian-born Catholic priest assigned to a parish in Michigan. Coughlin was antisemitic, anti-Communist, and isolationist. Throughout the 1930s, he was one of the most influential men in the United States. A new post office was constructed in his Michigan town just to process the letters that he received each week—80,000 on average. The audience of his weekly radio broadcasts was in the tens of millions, and his journal Social Justice eventually reached one million subscribers.


By the mid-1930s, Coughlin had become a vocal critic of the Roosevelt administration, and he attacked Jews explicitly in his broadcasts. In the days and weeks after Kristallnacht, Coughlin defended the state-sponsored violence of the Nazi regime, arguing that Kristallnacht was justified as retaliation for Jewish persecution of Christians. He explained to his listeners on November 20, 1938, that the “communistic government of Russia,” “the Lenins and Trotskys,…atheistic Jews and Gentiles” had murdered more than 20 million Christians and had stolen “40 billion [dollars]…of Christian property.” Following this broadcast, several radio stations refused to broadcast his program without pre-approved scripts. A few stations in New York cancelled his programs.”

from Fred:  Dave and I were thinking we would be inside Caribou this Sunday. We can talk about your position on the Fractions graph—makes you look far more moderate than you really are.

from Jim:  Thanks for sending this.


Here’s where I came out:


 “You are closest to the American Labor Party”


I’m having a hard time getting the four-square to copy-and-paste, but my “dot” is far to the left, though not pasted against the left edge, and is about a quarter of the way from the horizontal axis to the upper edge.  So, right about where I expected it to be from other, similar exercises I have done.


Here’s my “issue” with this particular one, though.  They have chosen to “create” six mythical “parties”, which is fine, I guess, but they do not have any mythical party IN the upper left hand box. I find that beyond “odd”, since other research studies using the “four-square” model of the political spectrum routinely find that this box is the most highly populated of the four among the American population.  To be sure, all four are heavily populated, but to the extent that any one is more highly populated than the others, it’s upper left.  Maybe 30%  Now, if the point here is that there are very few OFFICE HOLDERS in upper left, that is absolutely true, and other research has made quite the big deal about that.  To summarize:  THE BOX THAT HAS THE LARGEST NUMBER OF VOTERS IN IT, HAS THE FEWEST OFFICE HOLDERS IN IT.  The lower right box has some, but few, office holders in it (these days), but at least it is also the one with the fewest voters (maybe 15%), in most studies.  The lower left and upper right boxes, of course, are the “stereotypical polarized and polarizing activist” boxes, and they have nearly equal numbers of voters in them, perhaps a few more in lower left than in upper right.  True “activists” tend to be in the far corners of those two boxes, and office holders are almost all in those two boxes, and though they are distributed throughout each box, they tend to clump near the corners, but not as close to the corners as the “activists”.


For decades, winning elections had been about politicians in the upper right or lower left boxes trying to win voters in the upper left and lower right boxes – Now many emphasize just getting more people in the top right or bottom left to show up at the polls.  The 2016 perplexing (to some) development of there being voters who were undecided between Trump and Bernie Sanders is actually well-explained here.  Both had appeal in that upper left box.  Trump’s appeal centered more to the top and the right within that box, and Bernie’s more to the left and lower areas of that box.  But there was some overlap, and they both appealed to voters who do not have a natural home in today’s American politics.  When some analysts refer to both many of Trump’s voters and many of Bernie’s voters being “populists”, this is really all they’re saying:  These are people that are part of a very large group (their opinions are “popular”), but have few or no “establishment” politicians (or office holders) who normally appeal to them.  Neither conservative on all things nor liberal on all things.  By the way, media almost never refer to top left box as “moderate” – they apply that almost exclusively to bottom right box.  I’ve never quite understood that, but it’s part of why I reject the label “moderate” for myself.  THe people and politicians who the media label “moderate” are actually diametrically opposed to me on many many things.  Don’t know that I like “populist”, because media tends to use it as a pejorative, but at least it applies to, and gets used for, the box I’m in…

from Dick:  Many thanks, Jim.   Of course, you and I know each other, a little, in person, so I have an advantage on most of the readers (most of whom I also know, in person.)

I don’t think the “box” proves anything, or was intended to perfectly define the mess that is the America in which we live.  It is an opening for conversations like this.  I keep thinking of an envelope down in my garage which is full of probably several hundred keys found in various places when I was closing down the North Dakota farm.  You can visualize it, I’m sure.  It probably included the key for the first car they ever owned (1924 Dodge, I think it was), tractors, miscellaneous motors, on and on and on.  I can’t throw them away, though they’re useless, unless somebody wants them for a work of art.  When my end comes, somebody will have to dispose of them.

At any rate, at this moment they symbolize the motley crew we truly are.  At least, they have to live together in that envelope, and however keys co-exist they are doing so. Better than ourselves!!!!!

Thanks for sharing.

from Tony: HA! Talk about moderate. I’m just below the intersection of the four boxes slightly in the bottom left box.


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