As the social sciences lay claim to examining ever-broader areas of public behavior, longstanding assumptions about voting behavior are being called into question in novel ways. A recent article and book have led me to question whether we should consider voting to be an exercise in rational judgment, subject to the rules of discourse, debate, and creative problem solving, or just an affirmation of tribal affiliation.
We've all heard of "values voters," those who put what they perceive to be issues of conscience and religion ahead of platforms, proposed solutions, and candidates. As social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, author of " The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics " puts it, those values voters are "voting for their moral interests." Core moral interests, like religion, rarely allow for rational discourse. When God, however defined, has spoken, it tends to stick. The fact that the vast majority of religious people maintain a lifelong affiliation with the religion they were born into reinforces this point. And when God and Country get conflated, it's all downhill toward Santorumville from there.
Read the entire article, an Editor's Pick, at Open Salon: