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2012 Election Essay

1254 words - 6 pages

Ben Latham

8/5/12

Topic: 2012 Election

Politics and Religion

Politics and religion on the United States have always been interconnected and politics today continue to be influenced by religious morals. Jonathan Haidt has done significant research on the psychology of voters in America and his conclusions have become controversial and even frowned upon by liberals. One of his main questions is why are people divided by politics and religion in the United States? In general, conservatives are more religious than liberals making the democratic and republican parties divided by political and religious aspects. If Haidt’s conclusions are correct then they will distinctly ...view middle of the document...

President Eisenhower, who was a republican president, put aside his moral obligations to his party and used reason to enforce the federal government’s decision and eventually send the National Guard to Little Rock. Although this might not be the best example, it shows how using reason can help progress a nation which is why I disagree with Haidt’s theory about reason and morals. Politics and religion are almost as simple as democrats and republicans in elections. During the 2004 election, if a person attended church more than once a week then over 55% of the time they voted republican or for Bush at the time. This same data shows that states with higher average religious attendance tended to vote overwhelmingly republican.2

Haidt tries to determine how morals influence political judgments by referring to his Moral Foundations Theory. He lists six fundamental ideas that create the moral systems in the human mind: “care, fairness, liberty, loyalty, authority and sanctity.”3 To coincide with these principles he created a list of themes that carry more moral weight which includes “divinity, community, hierarchy, tradition, sin and degradation.”4 Liberals tend to build their moral matrix on three of the foundations but rests most firmly on the Care foundation. This means that liberals believe that “the most sacred value is caring for victims of oppressions.”5 In other words, liberals want to help people who have been affected negatively by government programs or lack of programs. The best example I can think of is the Health Care Bill. When the bill was being campaigned for, the democrats brought forth people who told stories about how loved ones were negatively affected because they didn’t have health care insurance. By passing the Health Care Bill, the democrats fulfill their value of caring for victims. Republicans, Haidt believes, have the broadest set of moral concerns but are mostly impacted by the principles of “loyalty, authority, and sanctity.”6 Similar to liberals, they too want change but conservatives will fight endlessly “when they believe that change will damage the institutions and traditions that provide our moral exoskeletons.”7 One debate that will be brought forth this election that conservatives will fight against ferociously is the principle of same-sex marriage. Conservatives, who were defined earlier as generally more religious, have their religious principles affecting their political stance on gay rights. To many conservatives, same-sex marriage will damage the traditions that “provide our moral exoskeletons”. Social conservatives will continue to stick by their moral and religious beliefs which often determine their political agendas.

The presidential campaigns are underway and Haidt’s Moral Foundations Theory, or MFT, will be relevant in the campaigns but not as much as people would think. Romney is still...

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