The differences between conservatives and liberals are not all concocted by pundits, however. The GOP and the Fox rightwingnuts have developed a new form of disloyal opposition, eschewing "loyalty" in the hope that any failure (human or institutional) will redound to their benefit in the mid-term elections next year. The GOP positions from Chairman Steele to Representatives Boehner and Cantor to Senators Hatch and McConnell are deliberate, and many of us can remember when the GOP acted quite differently. It has been a while, though. Certainly not since Gingrich strode into town in 1994.
The differences between conservatives and liberals are, most people suspect something deeper than political/tactical and purely ideological. There seems to be an unbridgable moral gap between the two groups. Professor Jonathan Haidt at the University of Virginia has some ideas on this subject as reported in the December issue of Scientific American, which you should find quite interesting.
In a nutshell of Prof. Haidt devising are five key psychological "systems":
If you have not already read the article, take a wild guess which of these five "systems" are favored by liberals, then read the article and take a few minutes to pursue the links provided by SciAm.
- Harm/care: Evolved mammalian attachment systems mean we can feel the pain of others, giving rise to the virtues of kindness, gentleness and nurturance.
- Fairness/reciprocity: Evolved reciprocal altruism generates a sense of justice.
- Ingroup/loyalty: Evolved in-group tribalism leads to patriotism.
- Authority/respect: Evolved hierarchical social structures translate to respect for authority and tradition.
- Purity/sanctity: Evolved emotion of disgust related to disease and contamination underlies our sense of bodily purity.
Remember "POE" from Dr. Strangelove? Turns out the issue is not comedic; it's real and very fraught!
Previously posted at Iron Mountain