Just ran across the best (and scariest) explanation for why American politics has gotten so much more divisive than it has been since shortly after what some of us in the South refer to as The Late Unpleasantness.
"For the first time in our history," says Haidt, a professor at NYU's Stern School of Business, "the parties are not agglomerations of financial or material interest groups, they're agglomerations of personality styles and lifestyles. And this is really dangerous. Because if it's just that you have different interests, that doesn't mean I'm going to hate you. It just means that we've got to negotiate, I want to win, but we can negotiate. If it's now that 'You people on the other side, you're really different from me, you live in a different way, you pray in a different way, you eat different foods than I do,' it's much easier to hate those people. And that's where we are."There's more across the squiggly...
To unpack a bit more what this means, consider "harm." This moral foundation, which involves having compassion and feeling empathy for the suffering of others, is measured by asking people how much considerations of "whether someone cared for someone weak and vulnerable" and "whether or not someone suffered emotionally" factor into their decisions about what is right and wrong. As you can see, liberals score considerably higher on such questions. But now consider another foundation, "purity," which is measured by asking people how much their moral judgments involve "whether or not someone did something disgusting" and "whether or not someone violated standards of purity or decency." Conservatives score dramatically higher on this foundation.I could keep on quoting from the piece but you really should just go take in the whole thing here. I think you'll find it illuminating.
What it tells us is that the Republican Party HAS to shed the Teabaggers and allow them to be properly marginalized.