Political Culture Divide

August 24, 2012

Perhaps one of the most obvious and important cultural divides in the United States is between the political right and left.

Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt talks with Steve Paulson about his research into the fundamental differences between Democrats and Republican, and how we might begin to speak across the gap.


The number of misrepresentations made by Haidt is beyond the pale. Either his premises should have been questioned or this interview should have been rejected. If the goal is to explore ideas "to the best of our knowledge," then surely we should delineate facts from opinions.

8 minutes is not enough time for him to back up his premises. Read his book "The Righteous Mind" and you'll see (whether or not you agree) that he makes a case for what he says.

I found Mr. Haldt's comments incredibly refreshing as we endure yet another increasingly partisan Presidential campaign. Thank you Mr. Haldt for your scholarship on this subject.

I have heard Mr. Haidt on NPR before, and it seems to me that his view is a thinly disguised attack on the left. It was summed up when he declared the Republicans to be the best "priests' of our national ideology.

What a gigantic waste of time! This program should never have aired.

He is in fact a liberal. He just happens to be one who wants to understand from a scientific point of view people with other beliefs.

Actually, he has said that after doing his research he tends to lean right. But really... does it matter?

I am a big believer in talking with those with whom you disagree. But how does Haidt explain the drift of the center toward the Far Right? Obama is more conservative than Nixon: Nixon signed the Clean Air Act which Obama is sluggish to defend; Nixon went to our then enemy China while Obama is afraid to reach out to Iran; Obamacare is a market-based system that exceeds anything Nixon imagined; Obama's renewal of the PATRIOT Act gives gov't powers that Nixon could only dream of. In the 1970's I would have agreed with Haidt but Republican policies of today look more like proto-fascism draped in "Conservative" PR than a neglected aspect of U,S, culture.

I had a tough time listening to the UNCUT (see link above - recommended!) interview all the way through to Haidt’s ultimate “a pox on both their houses” conclusion. What I found most disturbing is a very strong sense that what Haidt’s analysis suggests and even what he endorses is that national politics is and should be is a use of moral posturing as a marketing tool for nuts and bolts policies unrelated, often even antithetical, to that morality. I simply cannot accept that.

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