Monday, September 15, 2008

Quote of the day

“Palin Power” isn’t just about making hockey moms feel important. It’s not just about giving abortion rights opponents their due. It’s also, in obscure ways, about making yearnings come true — deep, inchoate desires about respect and service, hierarchy and family that have somehow been successfully projected onto the figure of this unlikely woman and have stuck.

For those of us who can’t tap into those yearnings, it seems the Palin faithful are blind – to the contradictions between her stated positions and the truth of the policies she espouses, to the contradictions between her ideology and their interests. But Jonathan Haidt, an associate professor of moral psychology at the University of Virginia, argues in an essay this month, “What Makes People Vote Republican?”, that it’s liberals, in fact, who are dangerously blind.

Haidt has conducted research in which liberals and conservatives were asked to project themselves into the minds of their opponents and answer questions about their moral reasoning. Conservatives, he said, prove quite adept at thinking like liberals, but liberals are consistently incapable of understanding the conservative point of view. “Liberals feel contempt for the conservative moral view, and that is very, very angering. Republicans are good at exploiting that anger,” he told me in a phone interview.

Perhaps that’s why the conservatives can so successfully get under liberals’ skin. And why liberals need to start working harder at breaking through the empathy barrier.
Judith Warner, NY Times.

Reading this, I wondered whether conservatives and right-liberals understand left-liberals better than they are understood in return because many of them used to be left-liberals.

3 comments:

TDK said...

Reading this, I wondered whether conservatives and right-liberals understand left-liberals better than they are understood in return because many of them used to be left-liberals.

Well that's true for me but many conservatives have never been liberal. I suspect the real reason is that the received wisdom in our age is leftist. Rightist prejudices are constantly challenged but polite society doesn't challenge leftist ones. Therefore all conservatives are exposed to left wing ideology in its real form. Leftists by contrast are most frequently exposed to another leftist's understanding of a rightist's view rather than the real thing.

Put it another way. The leftist frequently fights a caricature, the rightist fights the real thing.

Knucklehead said...

Very interesting, TDK. At first blush I thought the original supposition reasonably correct. After all I, like many (if not most) people I know was once 14 and a liberal. At that age I had "scientific" thoughts like, "Why don't we simply divide the national wealth by the total number of citizens and then all disparity is immediately gone." Stupid things like that.

Over the nearly 40 years since those sorts of thoughts entered my mind I've learned a few things (not many but a few) and when I listen to my "liberal" friends and coworkers and such I often wonder why they haven't learned the same things.

Perhaps the answer is a combination of answers. Many of us who are "conservative" have made a long journey from being "liberal". (It seems important to me to note that many people, I include myself among them, who would be labeled under ordinary criteria as "conservative" and not at all very conservative and, conversely, people who would readily be labeled "liberal" are not the least bit liberal.)

But back to the point I find interesting...

It is not even a little bit disputable that some "liberals" have been deeply exposed to "conservative" thought. Of interest, perhaps, is that most of the folks I've experienced in this category have exposure to religious "conservatism". They seem to equate all conservativism to the religious variety and have no idea that people like, for example me, exist. To these people non-religious is equal to "liberal" and they are consistently confused when I expound "conservative" ideas without refernce to religion.

People in that category have typically made a journey from "conservative" to "liberal". For example they may have grown up in a religious family and rejected religion. They have never, however, broken the thought connection between religion and "conservativism".

Hmmm... gotta ponder this a bit more. Thanks for prodding the thinking.

halojones-fan said...

Like the man said; if you're under twenty and conservative, you have no heart. If you're over thirty and liberal, you have no brain.