Thousands of College Students Get New Insights into Politics

Published August 10, 2011

Are you liberal, conservative … or something else? What’s the difference between the two? And what the heck is a libertarian?

A new program from the Advocates for Self-Government, a national nonprofit educational organization, will help tens of thousands of students on campuses across America find answers to these and other central political questions.

The program, “Epic Liberty,” enables campus organizations to quickly identify students who hold libertarian beliefs and give them the opportunity to engage in libertarian activities.

Through Epic Liberty, students of all political persuasions will gain new understandings of politics, their own political views, and the libertarian ideals of free enterprise, personal liberty, and limited government.

Smallest Political Quiz
The centerpiece of Epic Liberty is the World’s Smallest Political Quiz. Created by the Advocates in 1987, the quiz gives a more accurate and more sophisticated view of American politics than the old, inaccurate, but still dominant “left-versus-right” model.

Taking the quiz is easy, fast, and fun. You answer ten short questions on specific political issues. Your answers instantly place you on a five-point chart of the American political spectrum that shows who most agrees with you in the world of politics: conservatives, liberals, statists, libertarians, or centrists.

The quiz has found widespread acceptance among educators, media, and the general public. It has been praised by the Washington Post (“the Quiz has gained respect as a valid measure of a person’s political leanings”), USA Today, The Sunday Times of London (“a revelation”), and many other media outlets. It has been reprinted and discussed in dozens of magazines and newspapers and translated into several languages.

Advocates has distributed nearly ten million quizzes in the original, business-card-sized format. And with the advent of the Internet, the quiz quickly went global. It has been taken online more than 17.5 million times.

In the Classroom
The quiz has been featured in some of America’s best-selling college and high school textbooks, including those published by McGraw-Hill, Prentice Hall, and Houghton Mifflin, used in thousands of classrooms across America.

The Advocates has sent tens of thousands of quiz cards to teachers and schools, at their request, for classroom use. The fast, simple, and accurate quiz livens classrooms and stimulates vigorous discussion on political issues and political identities.

“I have found the quiz to be amazingly accurate and an invaluable tool for my political philosophy courses,” reported university philosophy instructor Joel W. Cade.

“I have been using the quiz in my American Government class for about five years. Students usually find it to be an eye-opener,” said political science instructor Dr. Sean D. Foreman.

Challenges Prevailing Wisdom
The quiz challenges the prevailing “Left versus Right” political model that tries to squeeze all political views into a linear political spectrum ranging from Left to Center to Right.

The prevailing model is simplistic and misleading, with no place for the millions of people who don’t fit neatly into some variant of liberal or conservative. Try putting Thomas Jefferson, for example, along that left-right spectrum.

Over the years, the quiz has awakened millions of Americans to the political diversity of our nation. Today many, if not most, political scientists agree the American political spectrum is far more complex than just left-versus-right.

Operation Politically Homeless
The Advocates’ Epic Liberty program will bring this eye-opening multi-spectrum political model to tens of thousands of students on hundreds of campuses in a visible and dramatic form: Operation Politically Homeless (OPH), which uses the quiz and eye-catching designs to transform an ordinary campus outreach booth into a lively, fun event.

Libertarian organizations use OPH to quickly identify new members and sympathizers. Passersby can to take the quiz and find their political “home” on a large and colorful poster of the quiz chart.

Those who score in or near the libertarian section are offered the opportunity to learn more about libertarian ideas and activities. And those who don’t score libertarian benefit from a new understanding of their political views and of the American political spectrum.

The Advocates gives OPH kits free to campus libertarian organizations that agree to use them at least three times and document the results. In the past two years nearly 300 student organizations have acquired the kits. Many have reported dramatic increases in membership and activism thanks to OPH.

Epic Liberty on Campus
Epic Liberty is designed to take this success to a new level: to encourage students to use OPH, and to promote and reward other libertarian campus outreach activities. Libertarian students will earn points for completing libertarian outreach challenges including running OPH booths, getting libertarian letters-to-the-editor published, sharing success stories with other libertarians, and much more.

Epic Liberty points can be used to win prizes ranging from liberty-themed T-shirts, books, and magazine subscriptions to more expensive prizes including video cameras.

Libertarian ideas are rapidly breaking into the mainstream. With two self-declared libertarians—Texas Congressman Ron Paul and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson—running for the GOP presidential nomination, there may be more interest in libertarianism than ever before.

Epic Liberty will give vast numbers of students new insights about libertarianism and the American political spectrum—and enroll thousands in a movement devoted to free enterprise and individual liberty.

Sharon Harris ([email protected]) is president of the Advocates for Self-Government. Image by Citizen Schools Photos.

Educators: Get free copies of the World’s Smallest Politic Quiz for your classroom by contacting the Advocates at 800-932-1776 or [email protected].

Epic Liberty: