Conservatives, argues researcher Philip Tetlock of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, are less tolerant of compromise; see the world in ‘us’ versus ‘them’ terms; are more willing to use force to gain an advantage; are ‘more prone to rely on simple (good vs. bad) evaluative rules in interpreting policy issues;’ are ‘motivated to punish violators of social norms (e.g., deviations from traditional norms of sexuality or responsible behavior) and to deter free riders….’ [citations in original]
The task for those of us on the Left is in part to better understand the traditions and significance of conservative thought which create the motivation for the Right’s “individuals-and-markets-first” approach to governing.
So too must we be both clearer about the motivations and values which drive our community-oriented philosophy, and more consistent in sharing those values. More information can only help lower the hyper-partisanship temperature, while diminishing both the knee-jerk inclinations and justifications for demonizing the Left.
There’s no denying the great divide separating the Left from the Right. The conflict does little but make problems more intractable, enduring, and … well, worse! But what we overlook too often is the divide itself. That great big “middle” has room enough for everyone willing to take a few steps away from the beliefs—genuine or the result of a lack of accurate information—to which each side is firmly anchored today.
Is it so wrong to recognize that indeed “We all do better when we all do better” * and that we do so by providing more opportunities by whatever appropriate means are at hand rather than denying them to protect the interests of the already-too-powerful? Elevating the content and quality our public discourse while displaying more honorable public behaviors in the process—instead of what we witness on a daily basis—might prove more gratifying and meaningful in the long run, and for more of us. [That’s about as low a bar to overcome as one can set!]
The moral difference is clear: Do we have both personal and social responsibility, or just personal responsibility? Are we in this together, or are we on our own? The conservatives say we are, and should be, on our own. Are we the United States or the Separate States — or millions of isolated individuals who don’t care about anybody else? The answer to these questions affects every issue.
We may view ourselves as belonging to certain groups with what we perceive to be clear boundaries and conditions for inclusion. But in the end, we each share an arguably common set of political and personal ambitions: a peaceful existence; some measure of financial prosperity; a sense of personal well-being; a healthy dose of happiness for ourselves and our families … each guided always by the hope that there’s one better opportunity—at least one better tomorrow—just around the corner. Continue reading →
As I state in the “About Me” section, I’m driven by an intense commitment to learn why those on the conservative side of the fence view so many matters of great importance to us all so differently than do those of us on the progressive side. Those contrasting behaviors, beliefs, and ideologies are contributing factors to the very problems we’re trying to solve—the ones we must solve if our own ambitions and our hopes for a peaceful and prosperous world we leave to our children are to be well-served.Continue reading →