Parents on Election 2012: After the debate – how should you vote?

Beyond the cult of personality, behind the most divisive issues such as how to fund government and what people can legally do with and to their bodies, there are some fundamental questions that can easily get overlooked. What are your thoughts on these four framework questions?

A. Overall,1 do you believe people are basically bad (1) or good (100)? Try to put a number on it.

B. Overall, do you think the better economic system would reward people based on what they need or on what they deserve (meaning what people will pay for one’s skills/talents/expertise, according to its value to them)? Again, put a number on it, with (1) favoring need and (100) favoring deserve.

Note: admittedly we could have a whole other discussion about what someone “needs” and “deserves.”

C. What do you think are the main functions of government (say, 3-5 of them)? You could do one list for Federal and another for State & Local. If you need inspiration, you can check the preamble  of the US Constitution.

D. In an ideal society, what percentage of the wealth created by citizens should go to fund government?2 In other words, what portion of the fruits of your labor should be spent at the discretion of you and your family, and what portion should fund the functions of government you list in Question C?

Now that you’ve clarified your own values about human nature and the role and scope of government, here are a couple of online quizzes you can take to discover your political stripe and find how well a host of candidates match your views.

The Nolan Chart survey asks your opinion on specific topics ranging from health care to foreign policy. Once you answer 10 multiple choice questions, the site will plot you on a 2-dimensional political spectrum that incorporates your views on both economic freedom and personal freedom. (insert the 2 Nolan Chart images here — attached). Are you a liberal, conservative, statist or libertarian? And to what degree? Were there any surprises in the survey’s assessment?

Lastly, The Vote Match quiz offers 20 quick questions over four broad topics: Individual Rights, Domestic Issues, Economic Issues and Defense/International Issues. It shouldn’t take you longer than a minute or two. It then matches your score to how a  range of candidates say about and how they have voted on such issues.

Again, did your list turn out the way you thought it would? Were there any surprises?

1 Yes, in all these rating questions there will be “it depends” and “in some cases” and innumerable qualifiers. I am asking you to think overall.
2 As a benchmark, all three levels of government consumed 40.6% in 2011 (data from Economic Report of the President, February, 2012.)

Lori is a Denver-area mom to tweens Tessa and Reed. She writes regularly about parenting, mindfulness and occasionally politics at Her book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption, published by Rowman & Littlefield, will be available in the spring of 2013.


Not only do I like the sites you have offered for me as a parent, but we have had great conversations with our teens in the past few weeks and last night. This is the last presidential election the both are too young to vote in, and knowing this they have become very interested in all of it. I think I will show the quizzes to them too. While they still don’t understand all of it, all of the discussions have opened their eyes that it is much more complicated than a bumper sticker on the back of a car 🙂

Examining one’s core principles, rather than relying on emotion, is a good place to start for all voters! Thanks for these important steps to identifying those principles, Lori!

I love things like this that encourage people to look at their beliefs it helps sort through all the clutter during elections and sift down to the bottom of the issues.

Thanks for providing a terrific foundation of where to frame my talks with my children during this election season. I have two young adult (new voters!) children and two in grade school, and I think this is a wonderful place for us to begin!

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I love how you guided us through identifying our core values first – great post!

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