The Political Ideology Family Tree

If you leave a thing alone you leave it to a torrent of change. If you leave a white post alone it will soon be a black post. If you particularly want it to be white you must be always painting it again; that is, you must be always having a revolution.

-G.K. Chesterton, “Orthodoxy”

Are you ready for the onslaught of the 2016 electoral campaign? While the 2016 political dark money has been rattling around in its overseas bank accounts for years, candidates are just starting to endear themselves to the public. Before unlimited campaign donations leave the American voter feeling like a flooded-out resident of Houston, why not take a fresh perspective on your favorite protagonist or antagonist of the presidential campaign?

The media today churns out breaking news faster than you can say “paid advertising,” and is always ready to shower hyperbole on political developments. We act surprised when Ted Cruz misses a vote on the Attorney General nomination, but forget the incentives of campaigning have outweighed those of governing for a long time. Debates about executive authority, immigration policy, federalism and civil liberties are not new inventions of a talk radio show. Each election cycle recycles and repaints the perennial questions of democratic government.

Let’s make some inexact, particularly unscientific and possibly irreverent, comparisons between current political figures and past political thinkers from left to right:

1. Bernie Sanders: The Populist:

Senator Sanders is the hometown hero of Burlington, Vermont. A door-to-door campaigner with a fiery, anti-establishment, disposition, he uses a secure liberal support base to criticize inequality and the influence of large corporations in American politics. He rejects consistent partisan affiliation in favor of voicing personal principles and remaining close to his electorate.

Senator Sanders could be an ideological descendant of:

Saul Alinsky

2. Hillary Clinton, The Progressive:

Former Secretary of State Clinton is an enlightened and well-groomed flag-bearer for the Democratic Party. Following a long line of progressive statesmanship beginning with Franklin D. Roosevelt, she offers a tamed but appealing vision of a country of justice and equality built on the ordinary efforts of American citizens. She can maintain a comfortable attitude of noblesse oblige while advocating for citizenship for undocumented immigrants and full marriage equality. Opponents demand more specifics, and reporters beg for her to answer more than a few questions about her policy platform.

Fmr. Secretary of State Clinton could be an ideological descendant of:

John Dewey

3. Jeb Bush, The Industrialist:

Former Governor of Florida Bush brings pedigree and a rare tranquility to his front-runner status for the Republican nomination. Rather than political opportunism, sabotage and provocation, Bush has engaged in enough critical reflection on recent American history to be labeled by the media as contradictory and too hawkish. Before anyone questions his center-right credentials, remember he continues to eschew the far right on issues such as Common Core and immigration. Bush’s grand strategy gives priority scientific best practices, market-driven social programs and economic growth.

Fmr. Governor Bush could be an ideological descendant of:

Auguste Comte

4. Mike Huckabee, The Nationalist:

Former Governor of Arkansas Huckabee believes in the ordained exceptionalism of the United States and the law and order necessary to preserve the moral character of the American people. A healthy dose of puritan values from his Baptist Bible Belt background produces what Alexis de Tocqueville termed the belief in liberty and sovereignty — only to use the sovereignty to bind themselves to strict codes of order and justice. The puritan view places control over a sinful human nature and finds redemption outside the material world.

Fmr. Governor Huckabee could be an ideological descendant of:

Thomas Hobbes

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