a truly wonderful and thoughtful contemplation of our current divisive political climate by renowned psychologist jonathan haidt. ostensibly it gets at why liberals don’t get conservatives, which has been much on my mind lately.
reading haidt helped me make better sense of something i’ve long believed: that, in many ways, public radio is one of the purer expressions of the liberal ethos. it may seek out all points of view, but only within the frame of celebrating diversity, valuing equality and highlighting the individual. but that ends up, according to haidt, sounding “thin” and unconvincing to conservatives, who tend more to value hierarchy, purity and the whole (the unum).
there’s a great deal to think about here, and many questions that arise. such as: what would it sound like if public radio found a way to transcend its own frames and assumptions? can public radio appeal to both conservatives and liberals in equal measure without forsaking its journalistic standards and ideals of depth and thoughtfulness? more broadly, what changes need to be made to newsrooms to create journalism and programming that republicans and democrats could both enthusiastically embrace? is that even possible?
i know numerous conservatives who listen to public radio, some who even support it, and some who have trouble explaining why it’s considered an arm of the democratic party.
what haidt doesn’t explain is why it is that conservatives have found it somehow justifiable to embrace rovian politics in all of their incredibly ruthless disingenuousness. perhaps they have an easier time justifying deplorable means if the ends are sufficiently important — lies in service of the unum are all well and good. i don’t know. all i know is that mccain’s campaign has grown cozy with lies, and obama’s has not — and i see nothing here that explains why that is.
be that as it may, both liberals and republicans are prone to dangerous groupthink that forgets that this country was established on the basis of tolerance and respect for many points of view. whether via sarah palin, or the chorus of liberal internet chatter that casts her as a jackbooted fascist, we seem to be veering again towards a very poisonous political season — fueled in no small part by the media, liberal or otherwise.