I continue writing about the study of 1,252 people by Wilhelm Hofmann et al. (Science, 2014) that I summarized in the preceding essay. One of the purposes of the study was to compare the moral values of liberals with those of conservatives.
Liberals cared more about fairness, liberty, and honesty, while conservatives cared more about loyalty, authority, and sanctity. That is, the values to which conservatives fundamentally cling are those that make them march in lock-step with one another and believe whatever their religious and political leaders tell them. Many of us would say that the moral values of liberals—try to be fair to and honest with people, and give them the liberty to live as they please, so long as they do not harm others—are superior to the moral values of conservatives, that is, to impose their moral values on other people.
In what I write next, I am going beyond the conclusions of the paper.
It is the conservative moral values that are leading our nation and world into peril. Conservatives are loyal to the Republican party and defend the authority of Donald Trump (though this was not yet the case at the time the article was published). They believe themselves to have sanctity, that is, saintliness, and for anyone who disagrees with them to be impure. Whatever their leaders tell them, they cling to it and are ready to rise up and fight any who differ from them, under the right conditions.
The values to which we liberals cling, however, are not those that are getting the world into trouble. We want to be fair to everybody: for example, it may be fair for you to have a gun, but it is fair for us to not be shot by your gun, and life is more valuable than gun possession. We liberals want liberty for everyone, but we recognize that your gun liberty is restricting our liberty to live. And we want to be honest, which is why our statements are more moderate and cautious than the simplistic and flaming rhetoric of the conservatives, and why such a breathtakingly high number of lies have issued forth from the current Republican political leaders. Practically every Trump tweet contains an easily recognizable lie. Conservatives want to be loyal to their party and to their exalted leader, and will make stuff up to bolster that loyalty.
Of course, there are spectra of liberals and of conservatives. But the liberals are more likely to recognize this. A typical conservative cannot have a decent conversation with any liberal: loyalty, authority, and sanctity are of prime importance. But I would rather have an honest conversation with a thoughtful conservative than spend time with a ranting liberal. I doubt, however, that most conservatives would prefer talking quietly to me to listening to the rants of Rush Limbaugh.
One cannot help being attracted to a political viewpoint that matches his or her psychological inclinations; but some of those inclinations endanger the future of the world, and others do not. Your desire to shoot me, and my desire to not be shot by you, may be equally the products of our inclinations; but your desire is bad, and mine is good.
Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY) said on a February 21, 2018 news program that most mass shooters are Democrats. I wonder if she, and others like her, are beginning to stir up the moral sentiments of conservatives to begin to take physical action against liberals.