Except that I agree, speaking as a liberal, that "respect for authority and sanctity" are nowhere near my personal code of morality. "Loyalty" might be somewhere there, but with an asterisk.
Conservatives may not like liberals, but they seem to understand them. In contrast, many liberals find conservative voters not just wrong but also bewildering.Speaking for my liberal self, if you change "respect for authority" to "respect for expertise," and change "loyalty" to "responsibility," then that would come closer to my moral code.
One academic study asked 2,000 Americans to fill out questionnaires about moral questions. In some cases, they were asked to fill them out as they thought a “typical liberal” or a “typical conservative” would respond.
Moderates and conservatives were adept at guessing how liberals would answer questions. Liberals, especially those who described themselves as “very liberal,” were least able to put themselves in the minds of their adversaries and guess how conservatives would answer.
Now a fascinating new book comes along that, to a liberal like myself, helps demystify the right — and illuminates the kind of messaging that might connect with voters of all stripes. “The Righteous Mind,” by Jonathan Haidt, a University of Virginia psychology professor, argues that, for liberals, morality is largely a matter of three values: caring for the weak, fairness and liberty. Conservatives share those concerns (although they think of fairness and liberty differently) and add three others: loyalty, respect for authority and sanctity.
His team asked research subjects pesky questions. What would they think of a brother and sister who experimented with incest, while using birth control? Or of a family that, after their pet dog was run over, ate it for dinner?
Most respondents were appalled but often had trouble articulating why; we find these examples instinctively disturbing even if no one is harmed. (One lesson of the book: If you see Haidt approaching with a clipboard, run!)
Of course, political debates aren’t built on the consumption of roadkill. But they do often revolve around this broader moral code.
Another way of putting it is this: Americans speak about values in six languages, from care to sanctity. Conservatives speak all six, but liberals are fluent in only three. And some (me included) mostly use just one, care for victims.