Quite a fine article on Edge by psychologist Jon Haidt on, "What Makes People Vote Republican?" with comments by a number of distinguished academics. The bottom-line is that people vote Republican because they believe in God, country, personal responsibility, and because they don't want to be a wuss or an intellectual. Other reasons include patriarchal upbringing, being spanked as a kid, ages old ignorance, lousy public schools, racism, xenophobia, sexism, homophobia, and standardized testing that stunts the brain. People also vote Republican because they have anxieties about boundaries: borders, good and evil, and body openings. I don't know, speaking for myself I became a Republican in Dallas after the Church of the Risen Christ torched my house in the last election cycle (for having a Kerry sign in the yard), and after I saw that the Democrats were Republicans under another brand name. Although the Haidt essay and comments were more academic and erudite than my comments here, they are also more insular. Even Haidt sounds like a missionary among the cannibals when he "understands" conservative people and extends to them the empathy accorded the lower primates by the higher. If you want to know what it feels like to experience prejudice, try wearing a Dallas Cowboys cap to a progressive retreat center, as I have done. Talk about being persona non grata.
What has all this to do with philanthropy? I think some people see giving in Englightenment terms as problem solving, or investing, or input/output management. They talk of philanthropy as an industry, but really they see it as a managerial science. Others see giving as sacrifice, consecration, self-expression, or as communion, libation, duty, tradition, invocation of the spirit, or as a ritual binding a community together over time. I would be in the second category mostly. Maybe that maps to "Conservative" or maybe it is what could make "Liberalism" a more cohesive social force than it now is. Isn't it strange that Conservatives are, apparently, bigger givers? They don't know any better, I guess.
That article is amazing. Finally, someone explains why people vote at what at first blush would seem to be against their own self interest. (Unless they work for Halliburton, I suppose.)
Now I get it!
I still think the GOP/neo-cons are corrupt - Cheney, Wolfowitz, Libby, DeLay, etc, but I see how wrapping themselves in the flag and religion has made them a powerful clique of joiners. Too bad they (the aforementioned, plus Rove, Rummy, etc.) have too many members of the clan that promote evil.
Very insightful though!
Good luck to you!
Posted by: Jerry | September 13, 2008 at 06:50 AM
I thought it was one of the best articles of its kind that I have seen. Giving people what they want, on the level of symbolic action, affirming their worldview, that apparently is leadership. Helping people learn and grow and pass beyond their preconceived ideas, that apparently would be a fool's errand.
Posted by: Phil | September 13, 2008 at 03:12 PM