Its what you thought for many years but wouldn’t say because it sounded so snarky and racist.
But now science is bearing up the notion that conservatives and liberals reason differently at a very basic level.
This Bill Moyers article presents a well-designed study of how the progressive and regressive minds work. And, yes, it’s not just that we have develop various conclusions about life based on rational input. Its much, much deeper than that.
Turns out conservatives, who generally advocate for a powerful military, harsh punishment for all sorts of things, more rigid societal structure, and love for guns, do so out of a sense of fear, protecting what’s mine, and the consequences of letting down our collective guard.
Furthermore, this fear mechanism, which served humans well thousands of year ago, is deeply embedded in the primitive recesses of our brain and is not likely to be expunged by simple debate about alternative ways of looking at our world.
Fearful people are putty in the hands of such information outlets as Fox News, which is blasting colored news reports, conspiracy theories and negative stereotypes round the clock. Such alarmism makes perfect sense to these citizens, even to the point of welcoming a Biblical armageddon as a cleansing operation for this present world. The net result is a stance that mandates that we pull in our resources, protect what is ours, and hate those who are no part of us.
Disease-ridden immigrants are overrunning our border defenses. Non-whites are aggregating too much power for our republic to stand. Capitalism and our guns will protect us from government overreach. Science is basically an atheistic enterprise bent on destroying well-established Biblical tenets. Birth control is abortion by another name and part of a movement to reduce the white population and equalize power among women and minorities.
This type of thinking leads, then, to some extraordinary beliefs. For example, no need to worry about the health of our planet, our CO2 belching lifestyle, or greenhouse gasses because Jesus is returning soon (discussion closed). Since God has blessed America in the past, we have to be the police of the world and intervene wherever it seems appropriate. And, since we’re the good guys, we must always prevail.
Superstition and even lies are accepted as okay because they reinforce these beliefs. This leads to a situation where even established “facts” are derided as evil propaganda. Ignorance is openly celebrated, because to “know” too much will lead one astray.
When our republic was new, the immigrants who poured in were often displaced populations who wanted to breathe free. They were often poor with little to lose and were banking on the promise that hard work equals prosperity.
Now our country has become the overlord, bent on protecting our eroding turf. We have no use for a rising tide that will lift all boats. Indeed, all boats are not worthy of being lifted, many would say.
Fearful societies are not generous, are quick to blame others, and have a tendency to hold onto simple-minded solutions that religious and political fundamentalists are happy to teach.
And there is no easy way to offer a counter view. A more liberal philosophy is harder to create and promulgate in bumper sticker sound bites. A liberal view, by definition, requires a more creative, patient outlook to see long-range results. The nuance often comes off as equivocation (or double-mindedness). Liberalism is often viewed as a sacrifice of individual rights for the good of the many, and even goes against the notion that there are no “self-made men.” A liberal mind seeks cooperation between groups for the sake of the common good. A liberal outlook can see over the mountain to a more hopeful future, not based on chains, but on a generosity that may not be immediately obvious.
The article quotes John Jost, a researcher with several decades of data under his belt:
There is by now evidence from a variety of laboratories around the world using a variety of methodological techniques leading to the virtually inescapable conclusion that the cognitive-motivational styles of leftists and rightists are quite different.
This research consistently finds that conservatism is positively associated with heightened epistemic concerns for order, structure, closure, certainty, consistency, simplicity, and familiarity, as well as existential concerns such as perceptions of danger, sensitivity to threat, and death anxiety.
One of the reasons for this blog is to help fellow travelers move away from the errant and mistaken Fundamentalist view of Jesus and Christianity to a more revolutionary (and accurate First Century) view of his character and message. Salvation is not an adherence to a bunch of rules that limit our world, but an opening of the eyes of our heart to his message that the Kingdom of God is here now. The banquet is prepared. We are all welcome to it. This belief makes us open our arms ready to live from abundance and embrace a world that needs the hope that Christ provides.