ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Political Litmus Test

Updated on January 15, 2012

Ah, the oft-maligned litmus test. How many presidents and presidential candidates are mocked for having a litmus test to determine whom they will appoint to various positions - usually to the Supreme Court?

Reminder - A litmus test, as it relates to politics, is "A test that uses a single indicator to prompt a decision"

Maybe allowing one issue to hold sway over others isn't the best idea. It's the sum of a person that makes him or her qualified - or not. But, is it possible that a position held on one issue actually tells more about a person than the sum of all positions?

Swayed by a Single Opinion

When I listen to candidates speak, and when I see nominees for judicial seats, one specific question comes to my mind. It is the answer to that question which will determine my opinion of that candidate.

Face it, a candidate's position on abortion sways voters. It's a fact. Just as a candidate's position on same-sex marriage, immigration or taxes will add or detract from their electability, depending on your point of view.

In Whole or Part

We're supposed to look at the whole, but how many of us do?

Take the current presidential campaign. I crossed off one candidate after another once their 'choice' positions were clear. After that, nothing mattered to me. In my opinion, a person's opinion on abortion tells me more about that person - and how large that person truly feels the government should or shouldn't be - than the sum of all his or her other opinions. It tells me what type of judge they will appoint to the Supreme Court - which tells me how that court will rule in the coming decades. It gives me a clearer idea what their view will be on same-sex unions, on foreign policy. Truly. If a candidate's desire is to restrict a woman's access to personal and private health care, then his or her desire to restrict other rights - in the US and around the world - cannot be far behind.

Take George W. Bush's anti-choice stance vs. President Obama's pro-choice stance, for example. One upheld the global gag rule, which restricted birth control and abortion advice to women around the world. The other lifted the gag rule so women had full access to that information and care. One insisted on small government yet used government to invade women's bodies worldwide. The other believes government is for the people and the people should benefit, yet reigned in government's role in determining a woman's bodily functions.

I don't know about you, but only one of those positions is attractive to me.

Clearly, I'm pro-choice and so I would never vote for an anti-choice candidate. That is my litmus test. What about you? Do you look at the whole candidate or does one issue hold sway over all?

Polititcal Litmus Test?

Do you look at a candidate's position on all issues or does a position on one specific issue decide things for you?

See results


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Lady Quill profile imageAUTHOR

      Lady Quill 

      6 years ago

      Thank you, lovemychris! So very true about Obama lifting the ban on step cell research - though I was not surprised by it since I absolutely believe a person's position on certain issues tells nearly the whole story about who they are and what they stand for on other important issues. Of course, though we may 'know' a lot about a person from one response, we also know they don't operate in a bubble. Some of what they do isn't always according to our vision - or what we see as their vision. In a perfect world it would be. Until then, there's "compromise". lol

    • lovemychris profile image

      Leslie Mccowen 

      6 years ago from Cape Cod, USA

      I'm with you Lady.

      And another good thing Obama did was lift the ban on stem cell research

      So many people will be helped by that!

      To me, abortion is the ultimate freedom issue.

      What is more personal than that??

      That is my litmus test as well....the starting point.

    • Lady Quill profile imageAUTHOR

      Lady Quill 

      6 years ago

      Josak, thanks for the comment and the votes for up and interesting! Truly appreciated.

      Abortion is such a personal issue, so I more than understand your ambivalence about the subject. Though this post wasn't necessarily about abortion, it is my litmus test for candidates. I'm happy to know my reasons for that were clear from the example I presented. :-)

      Thanks again for commenting.

    • Josak profile image


      6 years ago from variable

      Voted up and interesting I am somewhat on the fence abut abortion issues but you demonstrated your point excellently with the example.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)