Beyond the Palin: Political Psychology for “Actual” Thinking Citizens

9 09 2008

It’s my great pleasure to tell you that some really smart people have put together a Thinking Look at this really stupid election!

I guess you could say these essays are words put together to organize ideas, sort of like Palin’s pentecostal PTA pitbullying as leadership, except with ACTUAL IDEAS.

First comes Jonathan Haidt’s thesis of why the Republican party attracts certain voters with emotion, culture and religion, implicating what he describes as a “disgust” gut reaction of aversion that drives us the other way, as we wildly rationalize what we’re feeling so we don’t have to feel both scared and foolish (Snook blogged disgust psychology in 2006 and wondered how much of it shapes schooling):

WHAT MAKES PEOPLE VOTE REPUBLICAN?
. . . when gut feelings are present, dispassionate reasoning is rare. . .This is the first rule of moral psychology: feelings come first and tilt the mental playing field on which reasons and arguments compete. If people want to reach a conclusion, they can usually find a way to do so. The Democrats have historically failed to grasp this rule, choosing uninspiring and aloof candidates who thought that policy arguments were forms of persuasion.

But the Haidt essay is just to get the discussion rolling.

Then leading lights like such as Sam Harris, Alison Gopnick on childrearing morality as political ideas, Michael Shermer, ooh! — and Roger Schank, learning sciences director, a MAVERICK who bucked early cognitive scholarship and conceived of the story-based theory of reasoning and memory, which he laid out in one of my favorite thinking (and dining) books, The Connoisseur’s Guide to the Mind in 1991 — are now thinking about America’s thinking, in response to Haidt:

[From SCHANK] … Abelson worked on modeling political belief systems. He built a very convincing model of Barry Goldwater that showed that once you adopted some simple beliefs about the cold war, every other position Goldwater took could be derived (and asserted by a computer) from those core beliefs.

The idea of a set of unchanging core beliefs is not true of only politicians or psychiatric patients, of course. Everyday average Joes behave the same way. Adult belief systems rest on childhood beliefs instilled by parents mostly and by assorted other authorities.

Republicans do not try to change voter’s beliefs. They go with them.

Democrats appeal to reason. Big mistake.

Or skip down to JAMES O’DONNELL,
classicist, cultural historian, provost of Georgetown University, and author, The Ruin of the Roman Empire (forthcoming) —

. . . Roughly speaking, we are discovering that words don’t matter.
Or they don’t matter as much as we thought. . .
This came home to me in the aftermath of the 2004 election when I saw a map of who-voted-how coded at a level that made it clear that the counties of the US that produce the wealth and innovation voted overwhelmingly Democratic and the counties of the US that depend on government subsidy or that simply underperform economically voted overwhelmingly Republican.

That’s nuts—and it makes perfect sense at the same time. Perfect sense in that the Republican success of the last generation, since Nixon and Reagan cracked the code, has been to exploit irrelevant (to national policy) anxieties.

We are at the point where the national maneuvering for office has nothing to do with argument (so much for folks who say that “the economy should be Obama’s best argument”) and everything to do with positioning a message between now and election day so that pulling the lever or pushing the button or punching the chad for one candidate makes you feel morally satisfied, which is to say, less anxious and guilty and ashamed.

McCain’s choice of Palin confirms what the Democrats choice of Obama made clear: the candidate’s qualifications for some notional job don’t matter at all. What matters is the candidate’s qualification for getting you to push the button. After that, it’s politics as usual. And for a generation or more now, one party has been better at that than the other, and of course they claim that it’s because their message is stronger and truer. Truth has nothing to do with it. . .
[and]the exact framing of sentences and the precise structure of the verbal argument are less and less important.
. . .(Example? Obama’s speech on race earlier this summer. Good work, well-written, seen by almost no one, read by a few, and then blown off the screens by his preacher’s TV appearances. Net result, the image and the illogic prevail.)
. . .it’s happening all around us—

Anthropologist Scott Altram, anthropologist, University of Michigan and author, In Gods We Trust, and Dr. Howard Gardner, my celebrity education, cognitive science and leadership studies guru, are in on it too. (If you don’t yet know and respect Gardner’s brilliant body of work, try typing his name in Snook’s search box and see what comes up.)

Go to Edge dot org NOW and feel smarter before supper!

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41 responses

10 09 2008
Stephanie

I do “actually” think and sometimes too much and I just don’t agree with this analysis between R’s an D’s. I actually believe the opposite, I base my stands on issues on logic not emotion.

For a non-partisan blog this has sure been one sided lately.

I’m not thrilled with either candidate and they weren’t in my top few choices but I do know who I’m not voting for.

10 09 2008
NanceConfer

Since when are we non-partisan? I didn’t get that memo.

My first choice was Edwards because he seemed to care about poor people. But, of course, it turned out to be a good thing he didn’t get the nomination.

Since I do not want another 8 years of Bush, I will not be voting for McCain.

Who will you not be voting for?

Nance

10 09 2008
JJ

Hi Stephanie — this is a personal home education blog. Are you objecting to the curriculum? 😉

We blog about what we’re thinking AND feeling, ideas that impact our lives and times as two unschooling moms in Florida just swimming along in this culture loving our children and choices (community and country, too)

Yes, I personally am nonpartisan (post-partisan, on principle) and I’m a mom. I have both logic and passion about this election, as I do about everything in my life.

I can’t tell if you “actually” read all those brilliant Edge essays or just the one they were responding to, because it seems like you’re pretty emotional about how unemotional your politics are! 🙂

But either way, quite sincerely, I’d welcome your political analysis here for discussion, spelling out how your positions and decisions are completely logical without any emotion (and childhood beliefs instilled in you by authorities.) That would be something new to talk about for sure! If you want, we will even publish it as a separate post and feature it, and invite comments?

10 09 2008
JJ

For those who’ve been reading here all along, remember that our individual freedom as Americans comes from uniting to defend every citizen’s private right to differ, rather than from politically partitioning ourselves into fighting forces battling each other for governing power and control.

And . . . what will protect us from *your* unchecked raw power? If you actually can seize the raw power to govern education, then I need to keep as close an eye on you as I do on anyone else grabbing power in the name of “my” freedom.

If my vision of educational freedom and self-determined learning doesn’t match yours, why then — philosophically, morally, reasonably or any other way — should yours prevail? Simply because your political machine can enforce it more ruthlessly? Sounds like “might makes right” to me, not real freedom.

Education and principled self-control (not raw power used to control others) is the answer to all its own questions. I think most citizens know this in a Jeffersonian sense, and are willing to support any public resources that help create it, which is why they’re so frustrated with schooling that demonstrably fails to teach future citizens this all-important lesson.

If you’re right that we’ve devolved in our willingness to stand up for true education and principled self-governance, and have fallen to struggling for control of each other instead, then there’s so much education work to be done!

Encouraging and sufficiently arming adults to educate themselves about education, to do the hard thinking for themselves, with historical perspective and important new knowledge being discovered constantly, is the real answer.

Here’s more “free” reading for Thinking Citizens and Parents, especially homeschoolers:

“Failing at Freedom”
“Talking Trash and Taking Names in Bad Barrels”
“Best College Prep is Cocking a Snook”:

A college professor herself and unschooling parent of three college-level creatives, Pam Sorooshian found this professor’s very “unschool-y” advice. I’m posting it whole because it applies to most discussions here, and nearly every line is quotable. Here’s his set-up:

“. . . many young adults have been cheated by years of excessive schoolwork and teamwork, too many extracurricular activities, and a straitjacketed ‘just say no to anything risky’ upbringing.

I am convinced that modern childhood generally does not build enough independence and thirst for knowledge
. . .[w]hat your child really needs, though, is an inventive, self-reliant, restless spirit.”

10 09 2008
JJ

The Failing at Freedom essay linked above was written in early 2006 so it has nothing to do with our current (un)presidential partisan politics. Yet in it I talk about how angry and dangerously divided the culture feels these days. I quote Charles Darwin saying something (also not partisan) that when you think about it, could explain perfectly why power-hungry PTA pitbull conservatives (e.g. Palin!) hate his ideas, and fight holy wars to discredit them in American public schooling:

Charles Darwin, born 197 years old today, figured out that free thought is more art than science, and less adamant than ignorance.

“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert . .”

10 09 2008
Suze

“Since when are we non-partisan? I didn’t get that memo.”

Stephanie would of course be the one to say, but I wonder if she might have got that impression from one of these posts:

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=site%3Acockingasnook.wordpress.com+nonpartisan&btnG=Google+Search&aq=f&oq=

These may all by JJ, and so don’t necessarily reflect your views, Nance, and longtime, regular readers familiar with your respective styles can probably guess accurately who wrote what; but in the absence of author attribution on the posts, a new or sporadic reader might not necessarily be aware that there are two of you.

10 09 2008
NanceConfer

True enough, Suze.

For those unsure, yes, there are two of us.

With different views and certainly different ways of writing.

Although commenters are identified, it is an odd feature of the actual blog posts that they are not signed in any sort of automatic way.

Nance

10 09 2008
Stephanie

My mistake I did see a few posts about non -partisan and I *assumed* there would be news and articles from both sides of the fence, sorry about that 🙂

I don’t actually have the time right now to dive into a political discussion and I’m sorry I said anything.

It is your blog and I do read it even though I often disagree, so how’s that for stretching my mind?

10 09 2008
Stephanie

Let me clarify- I shouldn’t have said *often disagree* I do like your posts on education, I am an unschooler 🙂

I guess it just seemed like your posts were all attacking Palin and that is why I responded about being one sided.

But hey why should it matter? I’m one sided a lot too 🙂

Anyway sorry if I’m confusing, I think I need more caffeine 🙂

Just feel free to ignore me.

10 09 2008
Nance Confer

What news is there from the other side of the fence?

Has McCain started making sense, come up with a new approach to anything, suggested a way out of Iraq, stopped sounding old and befuddled?

Has Obama started lying repeatedly like Palin does? Like McCain does?

Any actual news about issues, like education, has been coming from the Obama side of things. If that even counts as “news.” His talk today at a charter school just reiterated his positions.

But at least that was better than what passes for news on news shows. Or what passes for positions at McCain rallies, where, apparently, everyone gets all excited chanting “USA” and “drill baby drill.”

I’d love to hear more real issues discussed on the news. Love to have more meat to discuss here or anywhere. I was very happy that Obama slapped the whole lipstick thing down today and insisted on talking about what he had come to talk about, education.

I’m sure more talk about the actual issues would be great, no matter what side of the fence it’s coming from. Now to see if more than one of the candidates can achieve the lofty goal of actually discussing the issues. Not just repeat soundbites, not just rattle off the campaign slogans, but get down to details about policies.

Not as sexy as pigs and lipstick but some of us have a mortgage to worry about and are not amused by the distractions.

Nance

10 09 2008
Nance Confer

I’m not trying to pick on you, Stephanie, if it seems that way.

It just seems like there are a lot of voters like you and like me who are busy parents and our time is being wasted by this twattle that is supposed to be news and is really just mindless distraction from serious issues.

We may not have time to study the issues every day but we certainly should know which position our candidate is taking if we’re going to vote for him. And the candidates and the media need to get the information out and stop all this garbage talk.

Nance

10 09 2008
JJ

To circle back around to education then — first to Stephanie, hey, we’re not sorry you said anything! You know you’re on Snook’s blogroll, right? And it’s not for agreeing with our conclusions, just with our approach to critical thinking and individual family autonomy to make our own decisions without public controls (and learn without interference.) Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!

What’s been happening this summer is a perfect explanation of WHY I’m post-partisan. This divisive, lying and cheating, treating-people-like-we’re-stupid stuff while insisting that’s leadership (and raking in the money and power and personal hero worship and sex-ercise opportunities) is exactly why I’m no longer in journalism or public information or legislative work, or any sort of public policy role. Because it’s all become Mad Men! (Have you ever seen that series on AMC? It is AWESOME, and more accurate about what’s really going on than most of what’s said on the campaign trail or the cable news channels.)

Part of why I take Palin so personally is that I know hundreds of truly qualified public policy minds who’ve been toiling away for the public good in thankless, poorly paid vineyards while raising families and giving generously from their own personal good will to all sorts of important educational, environmental, pro-family, pro-woman, pro-peace and pro-education causes, without any claim to personal fame or fortune in return.

And then along comes a beauty queen pitbull in lipstick younger than my baby sister and less educated than the first male boss I had in the private sector, and about as evolved! And she doesn’t know what she doesn’t know about the rest of us and our realities because HER state is full of oil and rolling in riches!

And so she throws her lot in with the cynical, carelessly chauvinistic Republican men who think nothing is bigger than themselves and they conspire to trash everything that matters to me, and that I believe — both cognitively and in my gut — can save the world. And as a result, they are following an upswing pattern so far, that’s exactly like the one that’s brought us all so low.

I am late to this view. I disliked (despised!) Bill Clinton after exploiting all his women, and I voted for George Bush post 9-11 out of distaste for Kerry’s smears of his fellows and also in literal fear for my family and a desperate trust that George Bush couldn’t really be as bad as all that, he’s a southern gentleman, right? — and I’ve been so afraid as a mom for so long! — so some of this is probably guilt for having been duped even though I’m smart, too. 🙂 But then came Terri Schiavo with my governor, the Bush brother, putting his religion ahead of my freedoms. Also Nance and I were invited to do a blog tour with Teresa Heinz Kerry here at Snook, and she just humbled me in her knowledge, dignity and compassionate outreach to other women. She wasn’t defending herself as a personality or an heiress (come in, Cindy McCain!) but just quietly continuing to do real good for real women and children, and the world.

Emotions ARE powerful, even in very well-educated, intelligent women. I guess that’s what I’m so worried about now.

(Nance OTOH, is supremely relaxed and confident, probably why I’m doing all the writing about McCain-Palin!)

Honestly, if there were no personalities and candidates involved, no party loyalty either, and we all as united citizens were simply declaring our support and/or opposition for ideas and principles and plans for American progress — would we be so divided? Would we feel so helpless and hopeless and cynical? Would anyone be angry and offended or calling each other “disgraceful” etc etc etc?

Now you know why I was for Unity 08 as the best hope to move us past this destructive political civil war model, until it was shut down and then in March 2008 I heard Obama speak on race in a way I’ve never heard another politician speak, and declared I would vote for him as “hope” for a different politics in the future.

But I am still (wavering but) nonpartisan. In official registration I’ve been nonpartisan ever since Watergate — abandon hope, all ye who enter here! — except hmmm, for a brief fling after in which I was in a visible job in the public sector as an idealistic young professional, and joined first one party and then the other, trying to see if I could find a comfortable political home. I’ve belonged to several churches too and never found myself a spiritual home, and to many service clubs that have disillusioned me; bottom line, I chafe at the anthill-bee hive approach to human thinking and feeling! I am too much of an individual and always asking questions that make the leadership call me to heel. The same thing happened to me in the “homeschooling” hive by the way. The Queen Bee’s stinger went totally wacko when Nance and I dared challenge as poor politics, her simplistic plan to “stand for homeschooling” . . .but that’s another story. . .

THE POINT IS THAT ONLY EDUCATION CAN SAVE THE AMERICAN PEOPLE FROM OURSELVES!!!!

10 09 2008
JJ

And Nance, you know I can’t resist being a know-it-all — I believe the word you want is “twaddle.”
😉

10 09 2008
JJ

OMG — just heard Joe Biden on tv saying Hillary Clinton is more qualified than he is to be vice-president or PRESIDENT of the United States of America.
Now that’s good politics. . .

10 09 2008
Nance Confer

Alternative spelling, I believe. 🙂

Nance

10 09 2008
JJ

Should we trash each other over it, or work it out?

You say twattle and I say twaddle.
You say Obama and I say — Yo’ mama?
Twattle, twaddle, Obama, yo’ mama,
Let’s call the whole thing off!

(That would be secession, right?)
😉

10 09 2008
JJ

And as we play with language, a commenter at Spunky’s (with a straight-talk face apparently) said that Palin’s religious views were “meanstream” LOL!

10 09 2008
Nance Confer

I agree! 🙂

Nance

10 09 2008
JJ

There you go — the moms have it! 🙂

10 09 2008
Stephanie

Thanks for explaining your views JJ, I do understand, I’m just not there, I just can’t vote for Obama. I just believe it will lead to bigger gov’t, higher taxes and more socialism and less freedoms. I realize more and more of our rights are stripped away each day by those that think they know better than us.
I really am very Libertarian in my beliefs of government, but I have always voted Republican except for when I voted for Ross Perot.

Even though I did vote for Bush, I don’t agree with NCLB, being an unschooler and very anti- compulsary school it is just causing more harm. Some of my views are extreme though and will never happen but I would love to get rid of public school as we know it for one.

I have been very disappointed that this is the best we can do, Obama or McCain…

The reason I said you could ignore me is because I feel that I may have started something that I don’t have time to devote to at the moment.

Thanks for taking time to share with me 🙂

10 09 2008
JJ

You’re welcome, Stephanie. And always welcome here.

11 09 2008
COD

Voting for Republicans and expecting anything resembling libertarian policy is the very definition of insane. Been there, done that, learned my lesson. Both parties will dramatically expand the size of government. For me the choice comes down to more war and less civil freedom versus less war and more civil freedom.

The best choice for libertarians is obvious to me.

11 09 2008
Nance Confer

Do we know McCain’s position on wiretapping Americans and that whole ball of wax?

Nance

11 09 2008
JJ

Power of Story! I just heard the tail-end of a BU history professor being interviewed on NPR. He described himself as a conservative Catholic but definitely not a George Bush-style “conservative” — that his view of conservative meant seeing the world as it actually is and not imposing some wacko good versus evil narrative with predestined outcomes on world affairs (like war, trade, spreading democracy.)

He said the actual American narrative was one of expansion, with little regard for the future or true morality or conservation of resources, etc and that worked amazingly up until around Viet Nam (the 1960s) at which time the narrative reversed — despite Ronald Reagan conservatism refusing to accept that — and all our expansion chapters since then, such as the current aggressive “war on terrorism” to reshape the middle east, are in REALITY shrinking and diminishing our leadership, robbing us of those happy endings we used to confidently assume would be ours by divine right.

11 09 2008
JJ

So McCain-Palin LITERALLY are stuck in the old American narrative of can-do expansionism and won’t, can’t lead us forward. They seem determined that going back to that would be conservative reform.

I wrote something the other day about the old-fashioned pioneer mentality fitting Palin, Alaska as the last American frontier, fiddle-dee-dee. And Bush of course had the tough-guy Texan mindset going — need I say more? 🙂

Alaska has the lowest tax burden of all 50 states AND abundant natural resources, resources the Republican leadership of that state exploits industrially (oil and gas) as well as encouraging its citizens to freely enjoy The Big Outdoors, for enhanced quality of life. It seems in fact, that the whole culture there is built around simultaneously exploiting and enjoying those abundant resources, with relatively little demand from “actual responsibilities” to interfere. It’s unreal, almost, as we hear the story unfold.

Very like the continent itself, back when we as early Americans thought there was no need for actual responsibilities — there’s plenty more of everything ahead in the new frontier, right? Palin’s news stories quite literally appear in “The Frontiersman.”

So to me this story makes perfect sense as reality to explain the Republicans, especially the current ticket trying to reform us back to the future, literally.

But it’s an unsustainable model for America’s present and future. The reality they refuse to accept is that can-do expansion driven by manifest destiny politics can’t work the way it once did. This professor seemed to say real conservative reform means being smart enough to understand that narrative’s success is over (indeed that it’s become dangerous and destructive for our country and people) and figuring out how to lead the crafting of a whole new American narrative that can take us forward.

11 09 2008
COD

That relates back to the point I was making somewhere that Obama could represent the first President in my lifetime whose worldview is not shaped by war.

Eisenhower – WWII
Nixon / Ford – WWII / Cold War
Carter – Cold war
Reagan – Cold War
Bush I – WWII / Cold War
Clinton / Bush II – Vietnam
McCain – Vietnam / Cold war / The War on Terror, which they invented

Obama – post war? He simply does not see the world through the lens of eternal conflict.

11 09 2008
JJ

YES! Exactly, thanks for laying it out that way which makes it so clear.

On CNN this morning, young soldiers in Iraq were saying that they barely remember 9-11 and didn’t understand it as it happened, and don’t understand now what they are doing in the middle of this war supposedly responding to it seven years later. . . and didn’t I read somewhere that contributions from active military in the middle east, are running six to one for Obama?

11 09 2008
JJ

About our careless and sometimes outright illegal expansionism wars (even against those more native than we!) and how we got away with them — I just got this in a local event email from an artisans’ colony here in town, planning a full moon celebration for the “Cherokee” moon of September. Andrew Jackson’s name is all over the place here and he once was a very Palin-esque governor of my state:

But, really, I don’t know all that much about the Cherokee, other than the tragic abuse they suffered under President Andrew Jackson and his forced march of the Cherokee from their homesteads in Georgia to a reservation in Oklahoma. This removal was so brutal that over 4,000 Indians died mostly of starvation.

Although the U.S. Supreme Court had judged the action was illegal and unconstitutional, Jackson remarked something along the lines of, “The Court has ruled; now let them send their army to stop me.”

And hmmm — I see Jackson like Palin’s soulmate, was a mistreated POW who nearly died in captivity and then lost his whole family to war-related hardships. He even had a Sarah Barracuda tough-guy nickname he took pride in – Old Hickory. Talk about understanding real history and learning from it, are we smart enough to?

11 09 2008
Betty Malone

So Nance still has …HOPE??…

Not me…I’ve joined the rank of the hopeless and no longer believe in the American majority having the brains or the guts to think through their lemming behavior…

I’ll vote Obama,,but I can’t even speak to people about this issue any longer..I’m so freaking angry..Never been this way…perhaps it’s post menopausal???instead of post partisan…

11 09 2008
Nance Confer

I can only hope you are wrong, Betty. For all our children’s sake.

Nance

12 09 2008
JJ

{{{{{Betty}}}}}

Good time to be among real friends whose honesty and heart you can absolutely trust, even where we differ. . .I’ve learned the hard way that having superficial demographics in common, like being a woman and mom, or homeschooling and having kids the same age, or being a “Christian” etc, will mislead more than help.

But I’m not as hopeless now as you are feeling, at all. Remember I’ve been there and done that though, and YOU helped talk me down! 🙂 I am confident real change IS coming.

Would you like to hear about the musical production Favorite Daughter and I are involved in right now? It’s pretty interesting and maybe even relevant to this– an old classic that the director has decided to cast FavD in with a creative new role. Do you know Singin’ in the Rain?

12 09 2008
JJ

Betty, from a religion-belief POV, maybe this will bring it back to humanity and nature, and make you smile beside?

. . .“natural parks are valuable because life is valuable on its own. . .”

And the larger idea is that groups of lives have complex and changing creative value beyond one life on its own, beyond the sum of individual animal life units — interactive values like fairness and forgiveness and love.

Modern religion is compatible with pro-lives thinking imo, much more so than with “pro-life” quasi-biology.

The Golden Rule as expressed in any religion, is pro-lives interacting in ethical ways, not pro-biology for any individual “life” to merely exist.

13 09 2008
Nance Confer

More on Palin’s religion:

http://ffrf.org/news/2008/assembly_of_god.php

“When Sarah Palin told her Assembly of God church earlier this year that the war in Iraq is “a task from God,” she was not speaking allegorically. As a pentecostal fundamentalist, she has to believe, as I used to preach, that we are indeed living in the end times. This is no harmless delusion. In America there is “no religious test,” and anyone can run for high office, as an individual, but that doesn’t mean we must not fear religious zealots exercising control. Although the First Amendment guarantees private citizens the “freedom of assembly,” the establishment clause requires that the government should be free from the Assembly of God. ”

Nance

14 09 2008
Betty Malone

JJ,

Yeah, maybe I do need a shot of hope….I’d love to hear about the musical..Emily, freshman at IU this year, loving it..no musicals anymore though, except the ones she goes to see. She’s an environmental science major..with tons of science and math classes. She’s as eager to save the world as I was at her age, proof in my heart that liberal progressive thought can co-exist with firm Christian faith. Some liberals dismiss the possibility, some conservatives think we’re delusionally full of sin and missing the “biblical teaching”..I just think we want to believe in the full hope and possibilities of human beings, learning to love each other. I’ll take your shot of hope JJ…and hang in there…before we pack our bags for Canada!!

14 09 2008
Debby

Just read the political psychology article that was part of a Judith Warner column over at the New York Times (Guess that makes me a latte sipping liberal, huh?)

I think Haidt makes a couple of very interesting points that are getting lost in some liberal outrage (How can I not be viewed as having empathy? I’m a Democrat?!?)

1) Conservatives have different values. They value unity, conformity, ‘normalness’, and obedience more than they do kindness to others and respect for others rights the live their own lives according to Haidt’s research. I saw JJ’s response on another blog to a extreme conservative who expected us all to fall into line and pursue the common goal (and anyone who doesn’t is evil I’m guessing). I’m with JJ and found the blogger’s statement very eye opening. I can’t get behind the war in Iraq…I think its immoral and if continued will cost thousands of more lives. My moral compass will not allow me to ‘get behind and push for the common goal’ if that goal is pursuing something I find immoral. That in and of itself makes me unamerican and lacking moral fiber (like loyalty and obedience) to conservatives.

2) We should co-opt some of the words that are feeling words instead of thinking words. People don’t care about the ins and outs of policy points, they want to feel like their belonging to something bigger. I was speaking with another homeschooler (Christian…pastors wife) and she was complaining about a science class being too focused on conservation. I responded by asking her if she believed in the sanctity of the environment..that we owed the living things around us our protection..blah blah blah. It shocked her that I used the word sanctity. Liberals need to co-op language ..and listen to what conservatives real concerns are.

15 09 2008
Betty Malone

Agreed about co-opting language of emotion..well, not co-opting, but taking back. I remember the faith of my childhood, a small white frame Methodist church as being very emotional but grounded in “method” or reason. Yet when rousing parishioners to action against..say civil rights injustices..our ministers definitely used emotional language to motivate.

I also think we need to stop denying our liberal faith, or liberal action, and claim it as a badge of great distinction. I am so proud of my liberal, progressive thoughts, understanding the need to balance action with reasoned thought…which isn’t what I saw when Sarah Palin said without blinking an eye…Yes, I’m ready to be President..she never even thought about the answer, just..yes, I’m ready.

15 09 2008
JJ

Something for Betty and Debby:

A theocrat is a theocrat, whether Muslim or Christian.

Sep. 09, 2008 | John McCain announced that he was running for president to confront the “transcendent challenge” of the 21st century, “radical Islamic extremism,” contrasting it with “stability, tolerance and democracy.” But the values of his handpicked running mate, Sarah Palin, more resemble those of Muslim fundamentalists than they do those of the Founding Fathers.

On censorship, the teaching of creationism in schools, reproductive rights, attributing government policy to God’s will and climate change, Palin agrees with Hamas and Saudi Arabia rather than supporting tolerance and democratic precepts.

What is the difference between Palin and a Muslim fundamentalist?
Lipstick.

. . .Theocrats confuse God’s will with their own mortal policies. . .

Not only does Palin not believe global warming is “man-made,” she favors massive new drilling to spew more carbon into the atmosphere. Both as a fatalist who has surrendered to God’s inscrutable will and as a politician from an oil-rich region, she thereby echoes Saudi Arabia. . .

Neither Christians nor Muslims necessarily share the beliefs detailed above. Many believers in both traditions uphold freedom of speech and the press. Indeed, in a recent poll, over 90 percent of Egyptians and Iranians said that they would build freedom of expression into any constitution they designed. Many believers find ways of reconciling the scientific theory of evolution with faith in God, not finding it necessary to believe that the world was created suddenly only 6,000 ago. Some medieval Muslim thinkers asserted that the world had existed from eternity, and others spoke of cycles of hundreds of thousands or millions of years. Mystical Muslim poets spoke of humankind traversing the stages of mineral, plant and animal. Modern Islamic fundamentalists have attempted to narrow this great, diverse tradition.

The classical Islamic legal tradition generally permitted, while frowning on, contraception and abortion, and complete opposition to them is mostly a feature of modern fundamentalist thinking. Many believers in both Islam and Christianity would see it as hubris to tie God to specific government policies or to a particular political party. As for global warming, green theology, in which Christians and Muslims appeal to Scripture in fighting global warming, is an increasing tendency in both traditions.

Palin has a right to her religious beliefs, as do fundamentalist Muslims who agree with her on so many issues of social policy.

None of them has a right, however, to impose their beliefs on others by capturing and deploying the executive power of the state. The most noxious belief that Palin shares with Muslim fundamentalists is her conviction that faith is not a private affair of individuals but rather a moral imperative that believers should import into statecraft wherever they have the opportunity to do so.

That is the point of her pledge to shape the judiciary. Such a theocratic impulse is incompatible with the Founding Fathers’ commitment to tolerance and democracy, which is why they forbade the government to “establish” or officially support any particular religion or denomination.

McCain once excoriated the Rev. Jerry Falwell and his ilk as “agents of intolerance.” That he took such a position gave his opposition to similar intolerance in Islam credibility. In light of his more recent disgraceful kowtowing to the Christian right, McCain’s animus against fundamentalist Muslims no longer looks consistent. It looks bigoted and invidious. You can’t say you are waging a war on religious extremism if you are trying to put a religious extremist a heartbeat away from the presidency.

— By Juan Cole

20 09 2008
Betty Malone

I’m interested to see how the media handles investigations into Palin’s church and “preachers”..as compared to how the handled the Obama church “scandal”

He survived…being tied to his minister’s viewpoints…I would think she will also..Be able to differentiate hersef..although the laying on of hands that supposedly “ordained” her to win the governor’s role…by the same minister who led a witch hunt in Africa?? …

I like the Juan Cole piece, thanks for sharing it JJ. I’ve sent it to a few centrist conservative friends,,who are still undecided.

20 09 2008
JJ

It’s so good to be sharing thoughts between us again, Betty. 🙂

Anyone who saw the Saddleback event and heard John McCain speak of SCOTUS justices and the current anti-woman five-man Catholic majority as what we need even more of, will understand this pledge came directly from HIM, the maverick who would be president:
“That is the point of her pledge to shape the judiciary. “

21 09 2008
Betty Malone

I do think that very few Americans understand the future of the Supreme Court make-up as being, for me, the key battle in this election. Who will we be as a country, what guiding principles will be lost or upheld? Especially when we hear Sarah Palin talk about how Title 9 was so beneficial to her basketball playing competitive, win win win mentality..and yet she has Ted Kennedy and Joe Biden, two men who care about women..and respect women…and would allow women..power, real power..to thank for her getting to play in that winning basketball arena..

But most importantly for me, my daughters, dtr-in-laws, grand-daughters (2 of them now!) what will my women lose with Sarah McBush court justices ruling..Is the Handmaiden’s Tale so far fetched in their regime’s. I think that perhaps even with Todd Palin, the quiet supportive behind the scenes husband, we see his hand..and his patriarchial mind set with Sarah only being the oh so verbal mouthpiece…

Okay, and on the completely Catty Woman side of me…am I the only person who finds her voice so irritatingly annoying..like chalk on a chalkboard..the personification for me of what I have always despised most about PTA and soccer mom’s!! Sorry..couldn’t resist being snide..and rude..and an intellectual elitist…

20 08 2010
We Need to Sing Our Epics or Lose Them « Cocking A Snook!

[…] We’ve animated Snook with epic discussions of the Great Derangement of Matt Taibbi, the language stories and Political Mind of George Lakoff, the political right-speak realism of Frank Schaeffer, the situational ethics of Philip Zimbardo and his Lucifer Effect, Harvard’s Howard Gardner on educating kids to love truth and America instead of fighting over it, Don Beck and Ken Wilber’s memes, Richard Florida and his “creative class” plus meaningful movies from Milk and Mindwalk to Hairspray and Madagascar, not to mention Harry Potter and Stanley Fish, plus the leading science lights of edge dot org. […]

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