The Psychology of American Political Choice

Liberals are dismayed that Republicans can be 'duped' into supporting a vice presidential candidate with so little policy experience. Turns out this has nothing to do with being duped, but instead is about the disparate ways Republicans and Democrats make decisions. While liberals rest on John Stuart Mill (autonomy is sacred, therefore cruelty is the worst thing we can do), Republicans rests on sociologist Emile Durkheimer [here described by Jonathan Haidt]:

Durkheim...warned of the dangers of anomie (normlessness), and wrote, in 1897, that "Man cannot become attached to higher aims and submit to a rule if he sees nothing above him to which he belongs. To free himself from all social pressure is to abandon himself and demoralize him." A Durkheimian society at its best would be a stable network composed of many nested and overlapping groups that socialize, reshape, and care for individuals who, if left to their own devices, would pursue shallow, carnal, and selfish pleasures. A Durkheimian society would value self-control over self-expression, duty over rights, and loyalty to one's groups over concerns for outgroups.
Obama should describe liberal goals through Durkheimian principles if he wants to get swing votes.



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