I just took the famed Political Compass test and it said that I was a … — J. Pepper Bryars

(Opinion) I’ve been an across-the-board political conservative since I was a teenager.

My older brother used to joke, “It takes Pepper longer to drive somewhere because he’s only capable of making right turns.”

Social issues? Saint John Paul II is my conscience.

Economic issues? Friedrich Hayek is smarter – and perhaps better– than John Maynard Keynes.

And national security? Speak softly … and carry about 20 aircraft carriers.

I’ve never been one to hyphenate or qualify my conservatism to distance myself from a particular individual or wing of our movement (except for Richard Spencer and his Alt Right racist retreads or Alex Jones and his mob of conspiracy theorists – they aren’t conservatives).

But I am conservative and proud of it.

However, a friend recently told me about an interesting test that attempts to nail down one’s political philosophy not in terms of the traditional left-right paradigm, but on a more nuanced compass of beliefs.

Political Compass.

For the creators of the compass – a group of political scientists and writers in the United Kingdom – the traditional left vs. right works fine for economic issues.

“We can show, for example, Stalin, Mao Tse Tung and Pol Pot, with their commitment to a totally controlled economy, on the hard left,” reads an explanation on the group’s website. “Margaret Thatcher would be well over to the right, but further right still would be someone like that ultimate free marketeer, General Pinochet.”

That’s fairly traditional.

But the difference in this test is the added social dimensions of extreme authoritarianism and extreme libertarianism. Although this test is several years old, those dimensions are quite timely considering how our society is grappling with issues surrounding freedom versus security – guns violence, terrorism, government surveillance, etc.

The compass looks like this:

And here’s where a few of the more notable people from recent history would find themselves on the compass, at least according to its designers.

I just finished the test, which took about five minutes and moved me quickly through questions about international trade, crime and punishment, abortion, parenting, and many more seemingly random but cleverly connected issues.

So what did it say I was?

Here it is: economically right and socially … libertarian.



I’m the most socially conservative guy I know. I don’t just reject the concept of same-sex marriage; I reject the concept of divorce. That puts me a little to the right of our current pope (I kid, Father. I kid … not really).

Besides, I’ve spent much of my writing career poking fun at those guys (and yes, I say “guys” because something like 95 percent of libertarians are dudes. Don’t believe me? Just attend one of their functions and you’ll see. They’re held in conjunction with your local World of Warcraft meet-up).

And that little red dot looks far closer to the center than it should be.

On the bright side, I guess it’s better than falling on the authoritarian side of the equation.

Still, whatever this test says I am, I’m a conservative.

And still proud of it.

(Did you take the test? Take this post over to Facebook and tell your friends where you scored on the compass.)