Thomas Edsall writes in Sunday’s New York Times about the wide differences in the moral views of liberals and conservatives and the worrisome tendency of each to assess the others’ morality as lacking.

Edsall points out that the focus on morality as the dividing line in political discourse, when everything is essentially a matter of good vs. evil, makes it pretty hard to manage pragmatic thinking on topics that require real world solutions:

“The intensification of disagreements over moral values not only makes compromise difficult to achieve, but sharpens competition for scarce goods at a time when austerity dominates the agenda. If, as is increasingly the case, left and right see their opposites as morally corrupt, the decision to cut the benefits or raise the taxes of the other side become easy – too easy — to justify.”

Edsall refers to the research of Dr. Jon Haidt of University of Virginia, who did a Skype interview last spring for our Polarization & Demonization dinner program featuring UVa’s Matt Motyl. If you haven’t before, Haidt’s work is important and worth a read. Also worth reading are the John Hawkins and George Lakoff pieces, on conservative and liberal morality respectively, linked at the top of the Edsall article that paint a pretty dim picture of our view of each other and portend much more trouble ahead.


Photo credit: DonkeyHotey.
Thanks to Peter for sending the article