Looking Left and Right: Is Polarization Our Best Choice? Pt 2

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For the first time in our history,’ says [Jonathan] Haidt, a professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business, ‘the parties are not agglomerations of financial or material interest groups, they’re agglomerations of personality styles and lifestyles. And this is really dangerous. Because if it’s just that you have different interests, that doesn’t mean I’m going to hate you. It just means that we’ve got to negotiate, I want to win, but we can negotiate. If it’s now that “You people on the other side, you’re really different from me, you live in a different way, you pray in a different way, you eat different foods than I do,” it’s much easier to hate those people. And that’s where we are.’

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Looking Left and Right: The Left v Right Battle Pt 6

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If the only advantage in preserving a status quo is to delay doing anything, the primary achievement will be to ensure the difficulties have been compounded. It’s difficult to get anything done when nothing is being done! That means more will be impacted by delay and/or neglect, which only a few will find satisfactory.

But on matters of significance outside of our own four walls, where facts actually matter a great deal, what  is the ultimate benefit to an individual or for the community at large if factual accuracy is not the objective in both the analysis and in the solutions?

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Looking Left and Right: Our Best Choices? Pt 7

 

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To be conservative, then, is to prefer the familiar to the unknown, to prefer the tried to the untried, fact to mystery, the actual to the possible, the limited to the unbounded, the near to the distant, the sufficient to the superabundant, the convenient to the perfect, present laughter to utopian bliss. Familiar relationships and loyalties will be preferred to the allure of more profitable attachments; to acquire and to enlarge will be less important than to keep.

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Looking Left and Right: The Left v Right Battle Pt 5

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RESISTING CHANGE & CLOSURE

 

The connection to the conservative inclination to resist change is consistent with others’ assessments of this key aspect of the conservative personality. And consistent with an intolerance of ambiguity and the related need for closure, little justification or substantiation is offered. Preservation of existing “arrangements” is to be accepted as an incontrovertible fact, premised on the belief that what worked before will continue to work well. Period.

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Looking Left and Right: Our Best Choices? Pt 6

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Specifically, [the need for closure] fosters the tendency to seize on information that affords closure and to freeze on closure once it has been attained. The need for closure, whether varied situationally or measured dispositionally, has been associated with tendencies to engage in social stereotyping … to resist persuasive influence … and to reject opinion deviates. *

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Looking Left and Right: The Left v Right Battle Pt 4

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Conservatives take a dim view of progress. They are not so foolish as to deny that great advances have been made in science, technology, medicine, communication, management, education, and so forth, and that they have changed human lives for the better. But they have also changed them for the worse. Advances have been both beneficial and harmful. They have certainly enlarged the stock of human possibilities, but the possibilities are for both good and evil, and new possibilities are seldom without new evils. Conservatives tend to be pessimistic because they doubt that more possibilities will make lives on the whole better. They believe that there are obstacles that stand in the way of the permanent overall improvement of the human condition.

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Looking Left and Right: The Left v Right Battle Pt 3

 

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The central claim of the right has long been that bureaucracy is the chief impediment to free enterprise — that big government too frequently gums up the works of a society that would be much more productive if left alone. As President Reagan put it in his inaugural address in 1981, ‘government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.’ Conservatives have, in turn, argued that government undermines the core values of hard work and perseverance that arise naturally in flourishing communities — that bureaucracy disrupts the innovative spirit that might otherwise thrive.
The left, on the other hand, is inspired by a different view: that lack of opportunity is the nation’s most pressing challenge, and that government has an important role to play in steering the nation toward a more widely shared prosperity. Notwithstanding a new focus on the culture of poverty, liberals have largely argued that better education, nutrition, health care, and infrastructure are crucial elements of the public mandate.
Both arguments, however, are predicated on the same notion: that the country should pursue a strategy that allows more Americans to tap into the strength and innovative spirit that is organically borne in their local communities. While conservatives may argue that the best thing government can do is get out of the way, and liberals may believe that the proper strategy is to provide additional opportunity, both sides presume that the spirit of Tocquevillian community fuels the society at large. But in a nation bereft of middle rings, that assumption may no longer apply.

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Looking Left and Right: Our Best Choices? Pt 3

 

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Conservatives take a dim view of progress. They are not so foolish as to deny that great advances have been made in science, technology, medicine, communication, management, education, and so forth, and that they have changed human lives for the better. But they have also changed them for the worse. Advances have been both beneficial and harmful. They have certainly enlarged the stock of human possibilities, but the possibilities are for both good and evil, and new possibilities are seldom without new evils. Conservatives tend to be pessimistic because they doubt that more possibilities will make lives on the whole better. They believe that there are obstacles that stand in the way of the permanent overall improvement of the human condition. 

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Looking Left and Right: The Left v Right Battle Pt 1

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Liberals and conservatives don’t just differ in their opinions, they have fundamentally different ways of processing information, which in turn leads them to hold markedly divergent sets of facts.
Even more frustrating for those who view politics as a rational pursuit of one’s self-interest, facts don’t actually matter that much. We begin evaluating policies emotionally, according to a deeply ingrained moral framework, and then our brains often work backward, filling in – or inventing -“facts” that conform to that framework.

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Looking Left and Right: Our Best Choices? Pt 2

 

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[There is] the commonly held notion that conservatives are especially likely to value tradition, conformity, social order, and consensual adherence to rules, norms, and conventions….It is also consistent with the assumption that it is generally easier to establish common ground with respect to the status quo than with respect to its many possible alternatives and to communicate effectively by transmitting messages that are relatively simple and unambiguous rather than reflecting the kind of complex, nuanced, and perhaps ambivalent cognitive and rhetorical styles that seem to be more common on the political left than the right. (links/citations in original) *

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