by Jim in IA
I was very involved in the 2012 Obama campaign as a local volunteer and neighborhood team leader. As such, issues constantly came up that forced me to question why I supported or opposed them. Is it right? Is it wrong? Doesn’t it depend on a lot of other things? I needed to feel I understood them internally. Only then, could I use them as talking points to potential voters in my neighborhoods.
I constantly asked myself how the conservative right could be so diametrically opposed to what I believed. I don’t consider myself to be unusually liberal. In fact, I’m very conservative is some things. How could conservatives feel so absolute and certain that they held the high ground morally? It was frustrating. I couldn’t think that way.
I pondered the possible reasons. Some insight came after listening to a Bill Moyers program with Jonathan Haidt. In it…
Bill and social psychologist Jonathan Haidt talk about the psychological underpinnings of our contentious culture, why we can’t trust our own opinions, and the demonizing of our adversaries. Compromise becomes a dirty word.
How do Conservatives and Liberals See the World? from BillMoyers.com on Vimeo.
At last some insight. Social psychology is not my area of expertise. I am a teacher and scientist. Logic and clear thinking are a big deal for me. I saw none in the way our political system was behaving. Haidt pointed out how people are basically very similar when it comes to which guideposts they use as foundations for moral judgement and behavior. But, they differ significantly on which of those foundations are held in highest importance to them. It is testable and measurable.
Granted, this information is not new. Haidt has spoken about it on TED, among other places, since 2008. Do a search with Haidt and you find several instances of his work and talks. I would like to share what I found in looking into this issue of moral foundations. It was very revealing and explained a great deal about the differences in liberals vs conservatives.