Point Of View

Point Of View

Tribal Politics: Moral Issues are at the Heart of Elections

By Ryan Howes

November/December 2012

By the time you're reading this, the 2012 election will have been decided, and we'll all have had our fill of the partisan rancor that's become commonplace in politics. Perhaps you yourself have had the experience of getting lost in an argument in which you became exasperated that people on the other side couldn't see what was so obvious, despite your best efforts to reason with them.

When caught in the stalemate of a political debate, the advice of Jonathan Haidt, author of The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion and a social psychologist in the New York University Stern School of Business, is to save our breath--or at least recognize that what we think we're arguing about isn't really what we're arguing about. Haidt believes that most political debates, at least the way they're usually conducted, are useless because the underlying issues aren't what they appear to be on the surface. Politics, he says, is ultimately about our stance on fundamental moral beliefs and group loyalties--things that aren't usually influenced by facts, figures, or rational policy debate. In the interview that follows, he offers a perspective on why we vote the way that we do that differs from what you're likely to read about in our mainstream election-season coverage.


RH: Your book is based on the idea that most of us…

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1 Comment

Friday, January 4, 2013 3:12:31 PM | posted by Barbara Rogers
If you look at this map of the US states that still permit physical punishment in schools:
it's clear where such fear, lack of compassion and the intense drive to punish others have their deepest roots. It's hard for me to understand how a book about political beliefs, written by a psychologist, ignores people's childhood and does not take into account what it means for the development of a human being to grow up in a culture where public humiliation in form of physical beatings of children is accepted. The US needs to ask itself the question: what kind of people are created when they were inhumanely punished and degraded in such cruel, violent and barbaric ways as children?
All physical punishment of children is inhumane and wrong, no matter who perpetrates this crime.
Corporal punishment in schools has been outlawed in Canada, Kenya, Korea, South Africa, New Zealand and nearly all of Europe. It remains legal in some parts of the world, including 19 states of the USA. All corporal punishment of children has been officially outlawed in 32 countries. (wikipedia)
The USA has a long, long way to go.