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Mark Zuniga

Sullivan is apparently pro-life, based on This I Believe. How exactly is that issue addressed by the LEO test?


Remember that the LEO test does not necessarily predict policy positions per se, but it can reveal some of the arguments that undergird a particular policy position.

A 'pro-life' position can be defended from a conservative, a liberal, or even a libertarian position. Thus a 'pro-life' position is not the exclusive property of conservatives. If one stresses a kind of universal equality, that equality extends to those who live but are not yet born.

Since the LEO test identifies Sullivan's primary preference for liberty coupled with a strong emphasis on equality, his 'pro-life' stance stems from the idea of rights extended to include the unborn, and that men and women have the responsiblity to act or not to act with the expectation of consequences of those actions. If a man and a woman choose to act in such a manner that they produce a child, they have the reponsibility to respect the equal right of that child to live.

This position is evident in a passage from Sullivan's "This I Believe" article:
"I believe in (life's) indivisibility, in the intimate connection between the newest bud of spring and the flicker in the eye of a patient near death, between the athlete in his prime and the quadriplegic vet, between the fetus in the womb and the mother who bears another life in her own body...I believe in liberty. I believe that within every soul lies the capacity to reach for its own good, that within every physical body there endures an unalienable right to be free from coercion."

'To be free from coercion' implies to be free from being coerced into not being born. The actions of the parents are their own, and they must be prepared to deal with the consequences of those actions without destroying the equal rights of anyone else, including the unborn child.

Incidentally this is the first time I have ever knowingly read Andrew Sullivan's work. I can only speculate at this point due to the lateness of the hour, but I imagine Sullivan may even support certain forms of contraception, namely those that prevent fertilization. This position would assume that the gametes produced in one's own body are his or her own until they merge to form a zygote. A miscarriage would then be construed as equivalent to a fatal accident for the developing child, while an abortion, either physical or chemical, would constitute a willful injury.

Mark Zuniga

I don't know much about Sullivan myself, other than what you pointed out.
It is undeniable that an individual's resolution of the abortion issue is based on a wide variety of values, even though our two party system forces people into coalitions they wouldn't otherwise join. I'm thinking of Fr. Andy Moore, who would be a Democrat but for the abortion issue (and maybe gay marriage).
I'm also reminded of "What Happened to Kansas?", a book in which the author is perplexed by the fact that rural areas, which were a hotbed of Progressivism at the turn of the last century, are now opposed to liberalism.
I don't think it is a matter of there being a radical transformation on the farm. I think (1) progressives of the turn of the last century were social conservatives [William Jennings Bryan did prosecute Scopes]; and (2) people in the country have all of the government assistance they need [so much so that they don't realize the role a large federal government plays in the betterment of their lives and conservatives wouldn't dream of taking it away from them].

Mark Zuniga

I've read a little of Andrew Sullivan now, and I tend to agree with your assessment that he is mostly libertarian. He labels himself a conservative and a catholic (lower case "c", but he still identifies to some small extent with the Roman Catholic Church). He is gay with HIV. He is pro-life, but seems willing to say that life begins at the quickening, or at least not immediately at the point of conception [he may favor RU486]. He considers the war on drugs to be incoherent.

It seems as though libertarians that favor economic liberties align themselves with the Republican Party and libertarians that favor social liberties [I thinking Bill Maher] the Democratic Party.


He likely calls himself a conservative because like so many others he has been led to believe that the Reagan Coalition defines conservatism. It doesn't. An earlier article on this page describes the basic problem with relying on self-identification (I think it's a critique of either Bishin or Poole), and the first Bush article discusses the nature of the Reagan Coalition.

Your assessment of libertarians is very similar to the classic 'left' v. 'right' libertarian split. Those who expect to support winning candidates will side with one or the other major coalition party along generally predictable lines. However, as one might expect, there is some crossover. For Sullivan, here is a guy who tests as a left libertarian yet who generally agrees with some of the agenda of conservative Republicans, albeit on different grounds from the RNC itself. Suffice it to say, from what I am told he manages to get just about everybody's hackles up.

Off the top of my head, the best example of the combination of both of these is probably someone like Penn Jillette.

Back during the 2004 Congressional election I got the chance to do a spot analysis of
the Democrat and Republican candidates for the district in which I live, TX-32. I received campaign fliers for both Frost and Sessions, as well as visits from campaign workers on either side. Frost, in an effort to curry favor with North Texas voters, mistakenly attempted a conservative (High-O) platform that came into conflict with the DNC's liberal (high-E) reputation, despite the fact that the Democratic presidential candidate was being painted as a communitarian (High-E and High-O together). Voters looked as Frost's campaign and were immediately suspicious. Sessions, on the other hand, had the flexibility within his own party to pursue a libertarian campaign, despite the RNC leadership's hard-line High-O stance (consider the beg letter I posted a couple weeks ago). Had it not been for the Reagan Coalition, Sessions would've had more difficulty remaining a Republican.


I just want to point out to all you smart people I was right. Ha!

Thanks Jonathon. I think I made my guess based on his overall writings and not a specific piece. I don't honestly think he ever was even part of the Reagan Coalition. As to pro-life, his blog pretty much shows he is a single issue voter and that issue is gay marriage.


Given that the Reagan Coalition included moderate libertarians, while the transformation of the New Deal Coalition into the Great Society tended to marginalize libertarians, the former was likely the only place where someone with Sullivan's apparent ideological preference could feel even remotely comfortable, or at least less uncomfortable than in the latter coalition. Again, I knew next to nothing about Sullivan before this exercise, and I still know relatively little, since I generally don't keep up with his blog.
One "given" of this model is that self-identification is not necessarily accurate.(see the critique of academic ideology tests) One must keep in mind that those of different ideological stripes might misrepresent themselves for a variety of reasons: to accredit their own position, to accredit the position they self-identify, to discredit other positions, or to discredit the position they self-identify.


You're probably right about Sullivan not having been a part of the Reagan Coalition. Not all libertarians followed him into the Republican party. Some split off and formed their own, others grudgingly moved to the Democratic party, still others opted out entirely. I believe this split might be explained in terms of antipositions predicted by the model. Libertarians who joined the Reagan Coalition were likely antiliberals, while those who went to the Democratic party were likely anticonservatives, and those ambivalent to either of the other major preferences either opted out or vacillated.
Also, one's least positive preference is not necessarily one's opposition. Sullivan, though he tests as a left libertarian, may actually come out as an antiliberal on a negative measure. The trouble is, except for the inventory I have yet to design a tool to measure antipositions.

david still

your litmus test nonsense...basically, if he or she agrees with you, then that one passes a test. Name calling is the true mark of the conservative. And you pass, with ease.


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