Today on the show Jonathan Haidt, NYU Professor and author of “The Righteous Mind” spoke about basic human morality, and its effect on our government.
Even after an election that clearly spelled-out Americans’ disdain for for intransigent federal bureaucracy – the Democrats and Republicans are set stubbornly on a crash course in February or March. In the face of great peril – at least, that’s what they tell us – these men and women elected ‘by the people’ are refusing to obey the will of the electorate. According to Haidt, this is the result of morality – which leads like-minded people to link up, and ignore their surroundings.
It’s an effective mode of survival – as some of your least favorite congressmen can attest, but it’s a horrible mode of governance. And it’s not just D.C., we bear some responsibility as well. We listen less, and argue more. We’re less likely to be swayed, even on topics that we know little about. We routinely trust – and then vouch for – people we know, even without evidence. Pack mentality seems to rule more and more, over music, over sports, over religion, and over politics.
Haidt says, that we’re so blind to the ‘opposing’ views, that even if there were and asteroid heading toward earth – there are people that would deny it simply because their nemeses were pointing it out. I believe him. Climate change is a perfect example, with all signs, and countless studies proving that we’re in the midst of a shift, people will still stick their heads in the (ever warming) sand.
It’s our focus on what we believe to be “the sole problem” that keeps us from acknowledging the legitimacy of other problems. You think none can compare, so as a result… you don’t consider comparisons. In the end, it’s not JUST climate change, or the national debt, or taxes, or gun control, or immigration, or education. It’s everything, every issue that is responsible for the potential downfall of the United States. (Sorry for the dramatics, all this politics is rubbing off.)
But how do we force Presidents, Senators, and Representatives to talk and compromise?
Haidt says vote out extremists and hyper-partisans, and vote-in candidates that promise to work with others. But – save for a few Tea Partiers and Progressive Neocons, don’t the all promise to “work across the aisle?”
And what if the fear of hyper-partisanship is just another Asteroid we’re focusing on?