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11 September 2008 @ 09:28 am
Why Democrats "Don't Get" Republicans  
Via the_gwenzilliad:

What Makes People Vote Republican

From the introduction:

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.
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Bill Suttonbedlamhouse on September 12th, 2008 06:21 pm (UTC)
As I read it (and see it in context of both the article and the experience of the Republican party post-1980), "narrow religious justification" is not necessarily equal to "religious fundamentalism". It just means that people find a foundation for their moral philosophy in religion.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that an overriding moral authority is the common factor, not necessarily religious justification. It happened to be the Religious Right that took advantage of it and pulled those looking for authority to their way of thinking.

Given that, there is room to sway people away from those whose authority we question, we just have to frame the argument in a context that addresses where the ideas came from. I'd postulate that most people with the type of view discussed here would not at all be comfortable with an argument of, "well, I figured it out so that means it's right for you" or even "these guys you never heard of came up with this and it sounds right to me." Some sort of basis for how such a thing works in society, either historically or from something perceived as an authoritative source, needs to be added.

Yes, that leads to difficulty accepting new ideas, but that's why it's lumped in under "conservative". The opposing viewpoint would be that "liberal" tries new ideas too soon, before they are proven, and thus risks a collapse beyond what can be fixed.

Cat Sitting Stillcatsittingstill on September 12th, 2008 06:41 pm (UTC)
Err, I was not responding to the article, but to madfilkentist saying
He doesn't grasp that there is an intellectual tradition behind Republican ideas, and yet also saying Indeed, the Republican Party has largely lost track of its intellectual roots.

He followed that by saying conservatism came from strong foundations, though made of two incompatible materials: a solid grasp of economics ... and a narrow religious justification for its policies

archangelbeth pointed out that present day Republicans don't seem to have a solid grasp of economics, and madfilkentist seemed to concede the point. That leaves only the "narrow religious justification for its policies" which according to madfilkentist's first response has become increasingly fundamentalist, dragging the party down from its earlier respectability

I have to say I think fundamentalism is basically emotional. There are semblances of intellectual arguments in that area, but my experience has been that they mostly fall apart when examined closely, making about as much sense as "eating dog meat will make you sick."

Madfilkentist said As long as the Democrats pretend there's no intellectual debate, that the opposition may be well-meaning yahoos but still yahoos, their responses will continue to look like posturing.

That's a pretty stiff accusation, and it's undermined by his own observations. How are we *pretending* there is no intellectual debate? If the intellectual foundation of the Republican party was a strong grasp of economics that it no longer has, what intellectual arguments does it retain?

And if the Republican party's arguments are largely emotional, then I agree with the linked article that we need to meet them on an emotional level.