Jonathan Haidt on How Common Threats Can Make Common (Political) Ground

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Bill’s interview with social psychologist Jonathan Haidt about the moral underpinnings of our contentious culture was the most viewed video on BillMoyers.com in 2012. In this video from TED/New York — posted on Monday — Haidt talks about the polarization in Congress and how common threats, such as income inequality and climate change, might create common (political) ground. Haidt explains the divide as a type of “gang warfare”:

“It used to be that conservatives and moderates and liberals could all work together in Congress. They could rearrange themselves, form bipartisan committees, but as the moral electromagnet got cranked up, the force field increased, Democrats and Republicans were pulled apart. It became much harder for them to socialize, much harder for them to cooperate. Retiring members nowadays say that it’s become like gang warfare. Did anybody notice that in two of the three debates, Obama wore a blue tie and Romney wore a red tie? Do you know why they do this? It’s so that the Bloods and the Crips will know which side to vote for.”

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  • brux

    Propagandist for the right, the same old story, focusing on the debt and not on the sabotage the Republicans laid to bring that debt and the massive financial scandal about. How is that somehow irrelevant, and how does that not shove those numbers right back into the right wing think guy’s lying face?

    All the Republicans have to do to keep their course and push down the government and the people and push up the same incompetent elites that brought us all these problems … IS TO KEEP PLAYING LIKE BOTH SIDES ARE EQUAL … BUT BOTH SIDES ARE NOT EQUAL … the right still has not acknowledged global warming … the right still cannot sit down and have an objective fact-based discussion, we have seen that in every single one of their Presidential candidates, the right represents only a self-entitled elite of corporate and money people building their own political hegemony inside America for 30 plus years now, and who really knows what was happening behind the scenes to bring this about.

    Haidt is merely a silver tongued liar for the right.

    Oh, another dishonesty in his second graph about baby boomer retirement … that big spike is under our current most expensive in the world and one of the worst outcomes for the price medical system. I am so very tired of these kinds of dishonest arguments, and people being shoved before the American people and echoing the words of their paymasters.

  • brux

    But speaking about common threats … there are no COMMON THREATS, what there is if a threat from above, from the Republicans, and eventually our whole government that is run by corporations and the wealthiest people … and the core moneymaking system at the root of this is a hyper-active military industrial complex. But that is a discussion we cannot have because the military is all secret, our goals, plans, tactics, long-range strategies, they cannot be questioned or even published, and of course all that money has to come from somewhere, so our self-righteous leaders dump the burden on working Americans as if they are the volunteer military, and the US is different – all the other developed countries have goals relative to their people; health care, education, job security … and so did we at one time with Roosevelts Second Bill Of Rights, and then our politicians and visionaries started dying, then we started to get involved in wars no one understood. And then persuasion techniques that we used overseas to subvert and overthrow governments started to show up in our papers and TV shows, and now online … until that is almost all there is. And all this money that is not in the stream from the military has expanded its way into media, health care, finances, while everyone else is being squeezed out and we hear about how the nonsensical welfare state is untenable. Curious that, seems to me more like the threats is not common and it is from the top level that does not even seem to see the average American as a human being.

  • Arleen

    The four asteroids are all faulty logic. The first asteroid the rising deficit caused by entitlements. Really??? How about the unending war on terror, the enormous tax cuts for the 1%, and the crash of 2008 brought on by criminal practices of the financial institutions and Wall Street. The second asteroid – polarization that comes from not seeing the value of both sides. Really, Am I supposed to deny global warming, poverty, high health care costs, corporate welfare and corruption, low tax rates on the 1%, high cost of education, endless war, proliferation or violence and guns just to be more partisan??? Which brings us to the third asteroid, the concentration of wealth caused by the fourth asteroid single parent families!!! Marriage equals money, stability, careers and education and without it wealth pours to the 1% who of course have wonderful stable families. Is this guy insane. Tell that to the majority of two parent families who are working two jobs without benefits and with little hope of saving money for their children’s education.

    It is not two parent families that open the door to wealth and security it is access to good jobs with benefits, health care and access to higher education all of which are disappearing for even the purist two family homes. The structure of our society may make it easier if you have a mate, but it is not a direct cause. This conclusion is so far out it is not even in this universe. I am sure he believes that water causes one to become drunk too because everyone who drinks scotch with water, whiskey with water and rum with water becomes drunk. Logical conclusion – right.