2008-09-09 What Makes People Vote Republican

From Issuepedia

<hide> <let name=data index=Date>2008-09-09</let> <let name=data index=Author>Jonathan Haidt</let> <let name=data index=Source>Edge</let> <let name=data index=Topics>\US Republican Party\5 pillars of morality\morality</let> <let name=data index=URL>http://edge.org/conversation/what-makes-vote-republican</let> <let name=data index=Title>What Makes People Vote Republican?</let> <let name=data index=TitlePlain>What Makes People Vote Republican</let>

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Why in particular do working class and rural Americans usually vote for pro-business Republicans when their economic interests would seem better served by Democratic policies? We psychologists have been examining the origins of ideology ever since Hitler sent us Germany's best psychologists, and we long ago reported that strict parenting and a variety of personal insecurities work together to turn people against liberalism, diversity, and progress. But now that we can map the brains, genes, and unconscious attitudes of conservatives, we have refined our diagnosis: conservatism is a partially heritable personality trait that predisposes some people to be cognitively inflexible, fond of hierarchy, and inordinately afraid of uncertainty, change, and death. People vote Republican because Republicans offer "moral clarity" – a simple vision of good and evil that activates deep seated fears in much of the electorate. Democrats, in contrast, appeal to reason with their long-winded explorations of policy options for a complex world.

Diagnosis is a pleasure. It is a thrill to solve a mystery from scattered clues, and it is empowering to know what makes others tick. In the psychological community, where almost all of us are politically liberal, our diagnosis of conservatism gives us the additional pleasure of shared righteous anger. We can explain how Republicans exploit frames, phrases, and fears to trick Americans into supporting policies (such as the "war on terror" and repeal of the "death tax") that damage the national interest for partisan advantage.

But with pleasure comes seduction, and with righteous pleasure comes seduction wearing a halo. Our diagnosis explains away Republican successes while convincing us and our fellow liberals that we hold the moral high ground. Our diagnosis tells us that we have nothing to learn from other ideologies, and it blinds us to what I think is one of the main reasons that so many Americans voted Republican over the last 30 years: they honestly prefer the Republican vision of a moral order to the one offered by Democrats. To see what Democrats have been missing, it helps to take off the halo, step back for a moment, and think about what morality really is.

Commentary - on site:

  • /woozle: a little shredding - Do not buy Haidt's argument without having it checked by a card-carrying rationalist!

Commentary - offsite:

  • 2009-05-31 Why do people persist in voting Republican? by Michael Barone: "Read the whole thing. You might even conclude, as I suspect Haidt does, that Republican voters tend to be more nuanced and sophisticated than Democratic voters."
  • 2008-09-19 Scientists Explain Why People Vote For Republicans: "Liberals recognize fairness and care as important moral virtues, conservatives add to that loyalty, respect for authority, and duty. The educated moral relativism worldview is fundamentally incompatible with the way like 50% of America thinks, and stereotypes about out-of-touch elitist coastal democrats are basically correct. Sigh."

Alternate URL

</let> <let name=data index=TextShort>“People vote Republican because Republicans offer "moral clarity" – a simple vision of good and evil that activates deep seated fears in much of the electorate. Democrats, in contrast, appeal to reason with their long-winded explorations of policy options for a complex world.” However, “to see what Democrats have been missing, it helps to take off the halo, step back for a moment, and think about what morality really is.”</let> </hide><call ShowLinkData />