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Posts Tagged ‘conservatives’

Irreconcilable differences?

Posted by JD on September 12, 2008

Earlier I read an interesting article from called What Makes People Vote Republican? The author had a few good points along with some things that I either didn’t agree with, or would like to elaborate on, so I figured I’d break it down here and add my thoughts as you read along.  It’s a little lengthy, but well worth the invested brain cells and slight headache you will probably incur from the cerebral jumping jacks you will have to complete:

What makes people vote Republican?

What makes people vote Republican? Why in particular do working class and rural Americans usually vote for pro-business Republicans when their economic interests would seem better served by Democratic policies? We psychologists have been examining the origins of ideology ever since Hitler sent us Germany’s best psychologists, and we long ago reported that strict parenting and a variety of personal insecurities work together to turn people against liberalism, diversity, and progress. But now that we can map the brains, genes, and unconscious attitudes of conservatives, we have refined our diagnosis: conservatism is a partially heritable personality trait that predisposes some people to be cognitively inflexible, fond of hierarchy, and inordinately afraid of uncertainty, change, and death. People vote Republican because Republicans offer “moral clarity”—a simple vision of good and evil that activates deep seated fears in much of the electorate. Democrats, in contrast, appeal to reason with their long-winded explorations of policy options for a complex world.

So far so good.  Although I hate using sweeping overgeneralizations.  I also don’t believe the current Democratic party is as reasonable or free-thinking as we are led to believe.  Modern Republicans lean so far to the right of the political spectrum that Democrats have unwittingly slid right as well in an attempt to remain relevant in the eyes of mainstream religious conservatives.  Because of this, Democrats are at best moderate in general, and true liberals are now seen as extreme leftists.

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.

Perhaps I seem more cold and calculated than your average Joe, but, the personal pleasures of the author’s profession aside, I see little pleasure in figuring out the bigger picture concerning Republicans and religious conservatives.  It is agonizing to me to see so many people unwittingly dedicating their lives to hollow, empty and detrimental pursuits that they believe are in the best interests of themselves and everyone around them.  I’ve also no need of righteousness, shared or not.  It is the most useless of emotions as far as I am concerned.  I actually consider myself a very emotionally deep person.  I love to live life and experience every range of emotions, even if this means having to know the horrid with the euphoric.

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