Haidt On Trump

Yesterday, I read an interesting interview with Jonathan Haidt, who non-libertarian leftist Paul Crider once referred to as a "crypto-conservative." (For those of you who don't understand this reference, "crypto-conservative" is a rephrasing of the term "crypto-fascist," a pejorative term meant to describe politicians who pose as reasonable, but are secretly fascists. For the record, I take Haidt at his word when he describes himself as a left-leaning centrist.)

The whole interview is interesting for many reasons, but one part stood out for me the most:
What we found—because we actually knew how do progressive and conservatives fill it out—what we were able to show is that conservatives can pretend to be progressives and they can accurately fill it out as though they were one. But progressives can’t pretend to be a conservative and fill it out accurately because they don’t really get the group loyalty, respect for authority, and sanctity or purity. They don’t really get those so they kind of dismiss those and they assume that conservatives just like to kill puppies and things like that.
That was the case for a number of decades. Trump has shifted a lot of things around. The Republican Party is no longer the social conservative party. I believe, in other research I’ve published with Karen Stenner, a political scientist in Australia, Trump is appealing to more authoritarian tendencies. It’s very hard to see how Donald Trump is a conservative. So the psychology that I just described a moment ago no longer quite applies. The Republican Party, I don’t know what’s happening to it, but it is bringing in elements that are overtly racist. It is bringing in desires for rapid change, which is not a conservative virtue, generally.

 So I think we’re in a time of chaos in which both parties are in flux. What might come out is we might get ever further away from having a center-left Democratic Party and a center-right Republican Party, which is what we had for a number of decades. We might have two much more polarized or ideologically disparate parties and it could make for some very interesting politics and even less cooperation than we have now.
Most of this is not something any reasonably well-read person will find surprising, but it stood out to me because of what it signifies. When a famous volcanologist says something like, "We're seeing all the stuff that corresponds to a big volcanic eruption like Mt. St. Helens," then that's enough to perk anyone's ears up. When a famous expert on human morality and moral affiliations says that the president appeals to authoritarian tendencies on the right and bringing out overtly racist elements, it perks my ears up.

This is not because I had never heard this line of argumentation or that I hadn't considered the possibility. It simply means that the theory has evolved past the point of being "stuff politically engaged people say about abhorrent politicians" and into the point of being "stuff claimed by academic experts on moral affiliation." (So much for "crypto-conservatism," by the way!)

That's what it means to me. What it inspires in me, and this is the reason I chose to write about it today, is a sense of obligation to highlight more important links on my blog. This is something I once used to do all the time, but I stopped doing it out of a sense of duty toward explaining more about myself and my views. Now I think I ought to go back to highlighting important links when I find them.

The above interview with Jonathan Haidt shall be the first of these. Read the whole thing.

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