How can they believe that socialist/fascist claptrap?
We've all said something similar -- why don't others don't think or, better, vote as we do? It's so obvious to us.
That's more than an academic question.
My new book, OtherWise, suggests that developing the wisdom of understanding people unlike ourselves will be the key to personal and professional success in the 21st century.
The first step in developing that wisdom is understanding why we are the way we are. That inevitably leads to the discovery that the people we think are so different are really just like us in more ways than we suspected. They just operate from a different set of assumptions about what makes people tick.
Exhibit One is the political polarization that divides the U.S. And there is no better guide to those competing worldviews than Jonathan Haidt's new book, The Righteous Mind.
Haidt (pronounced "Height") might have called his book "The Self-Righteous Mind" because both worldviews assume they are the one and only Truth.
I used a lot of Haidt's earlier research in writing OtherWise, and he has since updated some of his findings and theories. But his general observation still holds -- liberals and conservatives base their political beliefs on a different mix of intuitive moral judgments.
For example, liberals give a lot of weight to issues of fairness and care, while conservatives also give weight to factors such as what is good for the larger group, what authorities have said, and what is pure and sacred.
Liberals and conservatives even interpret these principles in different ways. Liberals tend to think of "fairness" in terms of "equality" while conservatives think of it in terms of "proportionality." So while liberals believe it's only fair for the government to tap the rich to help the needy; conservatives think the government is unfair when it rewards failure and punishes success.
There's lots more. If you want to understand why your neighbor or brother-in-law can have such crazy political beliefs, Haidt might be able to help.