I'm looking for a word or phrase to describe someone who has strong political opinions or beliefs, but they belong to such a wide variety of "sides" that you can't really pin them down with a specific label.

For example, the person agrees with some typically leftist views but also supports some conservative ones. They also like some authoritative ones as well as certain libertarian ones, and so on.

"Centrist" seems more to describe someone who's more neutral on everything, which isn't what I want.

The closest phrase I've heard used for this is shotgun opinion but I haven't been able to find an actual word for this. Both informal and formal words or phrases are acceptable.

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    The very notion that there are "sides" presumes that the positions held by each "side" comprise a monolithic worldview, and that failing to buy the complete set is somehow "inconsistent" Consider Vermont, which elected the only Socialist member of the US Senate, but allows people to carry firearms concealed without a permit. Dec 8, 2015 at 18:27
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    @MontyHarder That's why I'm asking the question. My views don't correspond to any one "side" but I wanted to know if there was a word for that.
    – Pyritie
    Dec 8, 2015 at 21:24
  • Are the views a random collection of positions from various parties, or is there some relatively consistent philosophy behind them all?
    – David K
    Dec 9, 2015 at 14:30

11 Answers 11


I'm not sure there is one word or phrase for such a person, although in some contexts the term independent covers a lot of idiosyncratic political views. And there is a class of people who call themselves "economically conservative but socially progressive/liberal", however there is no one word for this (fairly common) type.

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    'Independent' is DEFINITELY the correct affiliation. And also, the phrase 'staunch independent' is quite common. Dec 8, 2015 at 15:19
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    FYI, outside of North America, "liberal" generally means "economically conservative but socially progressive/liberal", it's an American thing to use "Liberal" to describe social democrats (though it might be spreading). "Libertarian" is sometimes used to mean "extremely economically conservative but socially progressive/liberal". Dec 8, 2015 at 16:33
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    Actually, libertarians think that "conservatives" are economically libertarian but socially authoritarian, and "liberals" are economically authoritarian but socially libertarian. IOW, the traditional "left-right" axis is literally one-dimensional, and fails to capture the complexity of political thinking. See theadvocates.org/quiz/quiz.php for perhaps the most notable example of two-dimensional classification (which itself is still far too simple to describe reality). Dec 8, 2015 at 18:31



a. a person of independent or unorthodox views

b. (as modifier): a maverick politician.

[C19: after Samuel A. Maverick (1803-70), Texas rancher, who did not brand his cattle] Collins English Dictionary

Maverick Dutch Politician Is Slain Before Elections LA Times

Leftist maverick Jean-Pierre Chevenement quit Tuesday as France's minister for law and order, depriving Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin's 3-year-old government of one of the last remaining stars from its starting lineup. The mercurial interior minister, who twice before resigned ministerial portfolios and once rallied from a coma to return to public life, refused to endorse Jospin's plan for devolving a share of legislative powers to local officials on the Mediterranean island of Corsica. LA Times


(Chiefly AmEng) A person who acts independently or remains neutral, especially in politics. [Massachusett mugguomp, mummugguomp, war leader.] American Heritage® Dictionary

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    An alternative, even stronger term for someone whose views go against the grain is iconoclast, but that'd only apply if they're confrontational and taboo-breaking with it Dec 8, 2015 at 16:23
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    Despite all the McCain/Palin wisecracks that come to mind this is probably the best answer.
    – Casey
    Dec 8, 2015 at 19:17


a person who forms his or her own opinions about important subjects (such as religion and politics) instead of accepting what other people say


a person who forms opinions about religion, politics, morals, etc., independently of or counter to tradition, authority, or established belief

It's not a perfect fit since, although it can be applied to politics, it has a stronger association with religious thought.


You can speak of a person having strong but eclectic (political) opinions.


Nonconformist. This has been used in many cases. Describing both behavior and political beliefs.


Political Hipster

The modern hipster is a composite of individuals... He or she rejects "mainstream" culture and embraces and contributes to independent culture, and prides him/herself on this.


  • @downvote. why not? Sure it's colloquial, but it's also communicative.
    – SimplGy
    Dec 9, 2015 at 19:37
  • The question did ask for informal as well as formal phrases so I agree that anonymously down-voting rather clever attempts, such as yours (+1 back to even), to address the informal/colloquial part of the request is questionable at best.
    – Papa Poule
    Dec 9, 2015 at 20:25

Heterodox might fit. It is in contrast to orthodox, which in terms of politics sometimes means the "right" side, but more generally refers to official or agreed-on views. That means that liberal, conservative, libertarian, etc. parties all have their own orthodox sets of views. A heterodox person is not well-described by any of those sets.

Of course, there's the argument that most political parties or sides share the most basic of views, but the meaning should be clear.


(With your call for informal words/phrases as well in mind, you could consider the following):

cf. “Politics makes strange bedfellows” (from Dictionary[dot]com)

If the person you describe ‘awakens’ often enough with the proverbial “strange bedfellows” because of his/her across-the-spectrum opinions, perhaps it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to label them as
a strange bedfellow” themselves (after all, it takes two to tango, no?)
(example from Latin Times);

or to avoid a possible double entendre:

a/the proverbial strange bedfellow.

To avoid coming right out and calling them a “strange bedfellow,” even a proverbial one, perhaps you could use the term as an adjective (one that I would hyphenate) to describe their political opinions or sympathies, i.e., their politics:

“[His/her strange-bedfellow politics … cut across familiar partisan and ideological lines.”
(example of unhyphenated usage from ‘Debating Immigration’ by Carol M. Swain, via Google Books)

  • It seems to me that "strange bedfellows" refers to people with very different political views who happen to fall on the same side of a particular question for different reasons.
    – David K
    Dec 9, 2015 at 14:17

Opportunist might fit, though that has a strong connotation of selfishness. So, it's only applicable if the person's political opinions tend to always favour whatever legislation benefits themselves best.

In particular, an opportunist isn't idiologic, i.e. they don't have strong beliefs.


It seems to me the best word to explain your position without having to disclose what your position is would be.....Neutral.


"Rational" or more specifically "Rationally non-partisan"

(I think this is self-explanatory and doesn't require elaboration).

Or, perhaps more generally speaking, just "Non-partisan politics" (since you did not actually require the opinions to be rational....)

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