Conservatives who run for office like to invoke moral heroes of the past, specifically the Founding Fathers of the United States, and, you know, Jesus. Somehow, they don't see any hypocrisy in the fact that these heroes were all flaming liberals of the very highest order. Revolutionaries in fact. Invoking them appeals to conservative voters' desire for comforting familiarity, (even as they miss the point of what they find comfortingly familiar).
Despite the shortcomings of Jonathan Haidt's lecture (and an article of his that my friend Chris recommended), it is largely thanks to them that I am reminded of the need to find common ground with people whose views I find difficult to accept, or even understand. Conservatives. People who strongly resist change (despite the fact that change is the only constant).
Haidt starts his lecture pointing out that "openness to new experience" is a psychological trait, and some people rate highly in it, and others less so. Those who rate highly tend to vote liberal, and those less so tend to vote conservative. So it's no wonder that the conservative Republican base got so excited by Sarah Palin. McCain is a slightly "new" experience for some of them, and Obama is obviously shockingly new for them, whereas Palin is almost exactly like a female version of who we already have in the White House. Ah... comforting. Familiar. And even though it doesn't take a genius to see that the Republican leadership is systematically destroying the country, conservatives fear change so much that they would have more of the same despite the fact that "staying the course," sets the stage for truly calamitous changes later: full-scale socio-ecomic upheaval, etc. Their inclination to self-delude in service to their comfort-zone is so strong that they've actually tried to convince themselves that the country is going down the tubes because of the liberals in Congress, who, after all, have had a slim majority for the last two years (as if the manifold horrors and lies and outrages of the last 8 years all occured in these last 2, and somehow originated in the Capitol Building instead of the White House).
Unfortunately, change really IS the only constant and denying or putting it off only causes it to be more painful when it finally does happen.. The skill is in knowing when to push for it, when to simply let it happen, and when to push back a little, perhaps to redirect it. Nothing you do can stop it though. Might as well try to prevent your children from growing up. Oh sure, you can keep insisting that there's a Santa Claus, well into their teens. Or you can try to shield them from ever learning about human sexuality or anything else that might lead to a loss of innocence. But one day, your daughter is gonna get her period. And little Billy, well, sure he might be a bit slow, but even he's gonna figure out that Santa was really Dad all along.
In our case, as Obama has stated repeatedly, we are desperate for change. Wholesale, comprehensive, cleansing, corrective change. The Karl Rove / Dick Cheney / Monkey Boy administration has been like an enormous brain tumor slowly killing the United States while inducing disturbing personality alterations and interfering with mental faculties and overall competence. The change we need is nothing less than life-saving brain-surgery for an entire country. But you know how it is... people are afraid of hospitals/doctors/surgery. And that's understandable. Surgery is a bit scary. So even though it makes no sense, there are people who would prefer to see how the brain-tumor "plays out," rather than risk cutting open our head and removing it. But if we leave it in place (and vote for more Republicans) it will definitely kill us. If we vote to remove the tumor, (enter Dr. Obama) we're not sure what the outcome of the surgery will be. Though he seems highly intelligent and highly skilled, we don't know this doctor so well. Unless you're very "zen," uncertainty isn't easy. No matter what happens with the surgery, we can assume that the recovery process won't be easy either. But at least we won't have a terminal fucking brain tumor anymore!
One last thing and then I'm going to sleep...
As difficult as it is for me to fathom how people can take their group cohesion and loyalty (positive traits) and blindly apply them to such obvious liars and thieves as Cheney/Bush, I have to say, the problem isn't the conservative voters. It's the liars and thieves. The Republican party. If the Republican leaders actually lived and governed according to the moral values they claim to hold dear (the values their supporters certainly DO hold dear) then we would not have been lied to about Iraq, because if you're loyal to your group, you don't lie to them. And we wouldn't be in the absolutely sickening financial disaster we're experiencing. Would actual fiscal conservatives ever have allowed conditions to persist that could lead to the unmitigated debacles in the home-loan industry, at AIG, Lehmann Bros., Merrill Lynch? I just found out that my bank might be up for sale (Washington Mutual). I'm sorry, but the people that conservatives vote for don't actually have conservative morals. For them to have conservative morals, they'd have to have morals.