republicans, the party of fear

Dear Mom,

Gareth Cook’s column in the Herald Trib (“Trusting your instincts”) made me think of you. Bear with me, because it take a few points to build it up to where you come in.

He looks at what psychology has to say about morality, and starts with Jonathin Haidt’s theory that everyone is born with 5 moral senses: fairness, not harming others, loyalty to group, respecting authority, and moral purity.

The next step is the observation that in today’s US politics, liberals emphasize the first two of these, while conservatives use all 5 (with an emphasis on the last three). Gareth writes that several studies have shown that this is plausible. This allows one to argue that a liberal is really just a stunted conservative.

Gareth then goes on to look at new research which suggests that actually it goes the other way. The study was done by Jennifer Write, who reasons that if humans are inherently conservative, then all 5 would occur without effort. To test these, she gave people the standard moral values and political leanings tests, but constantly distracted the test takers. Then everyone responded like a liberal, only responding to the first two values.

Wright’s conclusion is that the other three are threat responses. SO she (or is it Gareth) concludes that we are not a nation divided by basic moral values, but rather by fear.

Now this ties in to a comment you made several years ago. You said you didn’t like the republicans because their message was all fear, all the time. I agreed, and we thought it was because they believed that if they could keep the country scared, they could keep power.

But perhaps it runs deeper than a political strategy. Maybe they project a message of fear because they are themselves in a state of fear.




Posted on July 6, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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