Problem #1: The political polarization in this country is due in large part to a lack of understanding about how humans think, relate with one another, and arrive at our moral and political convictions. The conventional wisdom is that humans are driven primarily by reason; that reason is for finding the truth; that we arrive at our moral and political beliefs through reason, and; that we can use reason to convince someone to change their mind about political issues. Our faith in reason leads us to believe that if someone doesn’t see things the way we do then they must be blinded by ignorance, ideology, or both. This conventional wisdom forms the basis of many of the presuppositions behind our political debate. And it’s all wrong.
Problem #2: While the reason-based, bee-focused, literal-minded morality of liberalism is great at perceiving logical inconsistencies in the world at large, and in the arguments and positions of those with whom it disagrees, it is terrible at seeing and understanding the broader picture and potential benefits of the experience-based, hive-focused, concept-minded morality of conservatism. Further, liberalism’s fixation on bee-focused policies tends to foul the hive, whereupon it points to the fouled hive as the reason for ever more fixation on the bees. It is a self-fulfilling prophesy, and a slippery slope toward statism and planned societies, which in the end diminishes, if not destroys, the very autonomy it seeks to protect.
Problem #3: We conservatives make mistakes when we forget the lessons of experience and the balance of all six foundations, and let the irrational commitment to some of our other sacred values, like the free market, hold sway. This is not to say that a defense of the free market or other conservative value is wrong, it is a reminder not to forget the lessons of experience and the balance, as in “check and balance,” among all the foundations which defines conservatism. Traditions, customs, institutions, and laws usually come into existence as remedies or preventives against something bad that happened, and we change them at our peril.
The Solution: The solution is education and enlightenment through open minded discussion, combining the newest findings from social science research with longstanding ideas about conservatism and liberalism to form a fresh interpretation of both. This blog will attempt to highlight the differences between, and the consequences of, the historical patterns of thoughts and behaviors of the two moralities; to promote the idea that morality is about more than just caring for the bees, protecting them from harm, and ensuring they are treated fairly, it is also about binding groups together into healthy communities, or hives, because without a healthy hive it is impossible for the bees to truly thrive; and to encourage public policies and especially educational programs that advance this more comprehensive and inclusive understanding of human nature.
Specifically, we can reduce demonization and shrink the political divide by reinforcing the virtues and ethics of all the moral foundations, and by teaching the lessons of The Righteous Mind, in age appropriate modules in practically every subject – from literature to history to civics to health to economics – in our public schools from K through 12 and beyond. The Whig is confident that if our children understand how Moral Foundations influence the way people think in all walks of life and how they affect the way people relate with one another in the social world then future generations will have a deeper grasp of human nature and will thus be better equipped to get along; leaders who emerge will make better decisions through an increased empathy for how our righteous minds really work. We cannot possibly expect future generations to get along unless we “change the path” in a way that gives them a truer grasp of why getting along can be so hard to do.