What Makes People Vote Republican? by Jonathan Haidt
Republican voters like guns and God and don't like gays and immigrants. They are narrow minded, racist and dumb. They suffer from cognitive inflexibility, they are too fond of hierarchy and fear uncertainty, change and death. Their "moral clarity" is simplistic nonsense.
This pop psychology view leads to elitist righteousness, the wearing of a halo by Democrats
Haidt explores the contrary but also complementing contributions to moral values originating from John Stuart Mill (On Liberty) and Emile Durkheim
Mill envisaged individuals as equal and free and that power was only justified to prevent harm to others. This position draws support from the partly innate moral values of
(1) protection from harm, especially violent harm (harm-care values), and,
(2) the importance of fairness, reciprocity, rights and justice (fairness-reciprocity values).
These values appeal to liberals and libertarians. Hence, liberals tend to be opposed to war, guns and support minority or oppressed group rights and often sympathise with these groups as victims (immigrants, gays, blacks, women etc.)
However, social groups have other values apart from those stressed by Mill.
Durkheim pointed to the collective interest, to social binding, the suppression of selfishness and the need to punish deviants and free riders. For him the basic social unit was the hierarchical social family rather than the free individual. Durkheim recognised the danger of anomie or normlessness. For the social good, self control is more important than self expression, duty more important than rights and group loyalty more important than the interests of minority groups.
Hence, from Durkheim, Haidt adds three new values to those above:
(3) ingroup-loyalty (historically, arising from tribalism)
(4) authority-respect (social rank and mutual obligation can be cohesive)
(5) purity-sanctity (what is regarded as degrading and what is regarded as noble)
He describes social morality as like an audio equaliser with five slider switches, for Republicans, but with only two switches for Democrats.
In the current election it makes very good sense for McCain to choose Sarah Palin as a running mate with a deep appeal (one that he lacks) to the Christian social base. The outpouring of elitist social righteousness from many Obama supporters (documented in ... twenty first century witch) illustrates that they don't get it - and hence they risk losing the unlosable election. When the main focus of your campaign becomes that your opponent is a liar and his running mate is a witch, then you are in trouble.
It's well worth reading the Haidt article in full and the rest of the discussion from The Edge contributors.
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