A fascinating look at the possible roots of left/right ideological differences and why there is a geographic correlation. The article starts with an examination of what the essential elements are of each ideology. It then covers the probable evolutionary psychology behind the beliefs. It wraps up with an explanation of how the differing beliefs were disbursed across the country as settlement expanded westward.
Its a must read, with novel (to me) insight on why our differences are so entrenched.
The article’ distillation of right-wing ideological beliefs:
the political right has a Tragic Vision of human nature, in which people are permanently limited in morality, knowledge and reason. Human beings are perennially tempted by aggression, which can be prevented only by the deterrence of a strong military, of citizens resolved to defend themselves and of the prospect of harsh criminal punishment. No central planner is wise or knowledgeable enough to manage an entire economy, which is better left to the invisible hand of the market, in which intelligence is distributed across a network of hundreds of millions of individuals implicitly transmitting information about scarcity and abundance through the prices they negotiate. Humanity is always in danger of backsliding into barbarism, so we should respect customs in sexuality, religion and public propriety, even if no one can articulate their rationale, because they are time-tested workarounds for our innate shortcomings.
Same for the left-wing:
The left, in contrast, has a Utopian Vision, which emphasizes the malleability of human nature, puts customs under the microscope, articulates rational plans for a better society and seeks to implement them through public institutions.
More quotes after the jump.
NYTimes: Why Are States So Red and Blue? http://nyti.ms/Sv4Vn8
The linguist George Lakoff suggests that the political right conceives of society as a family ruled by a strict father, whereas the left thinks of it as a family guided by a nurturant parent.
The psychologist Jonathan Haidt notes that rightists and leftists invest their moral intuitions in different sets of concerns: conservatives place a premium on deference to authority, conformity to norms and the purity and sanctity of the body; liberals restrict theirs to fairness, the provision of care and the avoidance of harm.
the difference may flow from the clashing conceptions of human nature. If individuals are inherently flawed, their behavior must be restrained by custom, authority and sacred values. If they are capable of wisdom and reason, they can determine for themselves what is fair, harmful or hurtful.