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Fifteen Differences Between Democrats And Republicans

Posted by on Jan. 9, 2012 at 6:42 AM
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By jeff61b

I’ve noticed over the years, there are some fundamental differences in the way Republican and Democratic politicians think. Here are just 15 examples.

Republicans fear that the government has too much control over corporations. Democrats fear that corporations have too much control over our government.

Democrats believe it benefits all of us to help the weakest and the poorest among us. Republicansbelieve it benefits all of us to help the wealthiest and most powerful among us.

Republicans believe large corporations will always do what is best for the American people if thegovernment stays out of the way. Democrats believe large corporations would disembowel you andsell your organs to the highest bidder if the government didn’t stop them.

Democrats believe everyone is entitled to health care regardless of their ability to pay. Republicansbelieve everyone is entitled to jack squat if they can’t pay for health care.

Democrats believe too much of our money goes to crooked corporate executives who takegovernment subsidies and pay themselves $80 million salaries. Republicans believe too much of our money goes to teachers who make $30,000 a year.

Democrats believe anything that helps the American people during a recession or a time of crisis is the true essence of patriotism. Republicans believe anything that helps the American people during a recession or a time of crisis is the true essence of communism.

Democrats believe that we need to set high standards for clean air and drinking water. Republicansbelieve that standards for clean air and water are burdensome over-regulation.

Democrats believe the President and Congress need to work together to create jobs during a weak economy. Republicans believe that Congress should do nothing to create jobs and then blame the President.

Democrats believe that corporate polluters should be made to pay for the cleanup of their pollution.Republicans believe that making corporations clean up their pollution is burdensome over-regulation.

Democrats believe our health care system exists solely for the purpose of making people healthy.Republicans believe our health care system exists solely for the purpose of making a healthy profit.

Democrats believe Congress should be of the people, by the people and for the people. Republicansbelieve corporations are the people.

Democrats believe that corporations have too much influence over Congress due to their lobbyists and huge campaign contributions. Republicans believe the middle class has too much influence over Congress due to their voting and paying taxes.

Democrats believe we need to protect victims of corporate negligence by allowing Americans to file lawsuits against corporations. Republicans believe we need to protect large corporations from lawsuits by Americans who’ve been victimized by them.

Democrats believe that the rich should be taxed more than the poor and middle class. Republicansbelieve that the rich should be allowed to keep all their wealth, except for the millions in campaign contributions they give to politicians.

Democrats believe that too much money in politics produces corruption and destroys the American way of life. Republicans believe that money and corruption in politics are the American way of life.

These are just my observations from a lifetime of watching Democratic and Republican politicians. I’m sure some Republican will come up with their own clever list.

by on Jan. 9, 2012 at 6:42 AM
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by Ruby Member on Jan. 9, 2012 at 6:52 AM

Long before Barack Obama chose “Yes We Can” as his 2008 campaign slogan, Republicans had been dubbed the Party of No. The label is popular among liberals as an insult for the GOP, but it’s also been embraced by conservatives as a proud self-description: for some on the right, the Party of No conjures the adults in the room saving future generations from an orgiastic spending spree, in the spirit of William F. Buckley’s proclamation that conservatism “stands athwart history, yelling Stop.” These conflicting views were on display in the recent debt ceiling negotiations, with liberals frustrated by Republican obstructions, and conservative Tea Party members seeing it as their duty to say No to another debt ceiling increase.

Whether intended as a slur or a badge of honor, the Party of No label stems from specific policy preferences, mainly the conservative tendency to vote “no” on non-security domestic spending and tax proposals. At first blush, policy stalemates might seem simple differences of opinion on how to run the country.  But a growing body of evidence is showing that partisan rancor goes far beyond the budget and policy fare of Sunday morning talk shows.  As divisions between Red States and Blue States have grown (or at least acquired greater iconographic heft), so has interest in understanding the temperamental and attitudinal foundations of political ideology. An explosion of research over the last decade is revealing the psychological underpinnings of ideological differences, unearthing the subterranean meanings of the Party of No.

That Democrats and Republicans differ on matters from foreign policy to gay marriage is well established, but how do individuals arrive at such diametrically opposed worldviews? Researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University recently published evidence that even nonpolitical attitudes are formed differently in liberals and conservatives.

In two studies, students were presented with a conditioning task involving positive or negative images (like puppies and garbage) flashed before pictures of Chinese characters. The characters were totally new and value-neutral for these non-Chinese speaking students. Some characters always followed the cheery puppies and rainbows, while some always appeared after the aversive sewage and spiders. Another set came after a neutral gray square.

After a few viewing cycles, the students simply rated how much they liked or disliked each of the Chinese characters. (They had been told they were participating in a language and memory experiment to avoid muddying the data with political assumptions or overtones.) Both studies showed that the negative images had a stronger effect than positive images for everyone, supporting the robust psychological finding that negatives make a stronger impression than positives (i.e. the snarky evaluations you remember long after the glowing ones have faded).  After the brief viewing, Chinese characters that had appeared after negative images were more disliked than the other Chinese characters, even though participants had no prior experience with them.

Most strikingly, both studies showed that this negativity dominance was especially true for conservative students. In other words, those on the political right showed more of a “bad is stronger than good” bias than those on the left. Surprisingly, the political difference wasn’t to be found in the negative images, which had a strong effect on everyone across the board. If you can wrap your mind around psych study jujitsu for a moment: the differences stemmed from participants’ responses to the positive images, which carried more weight with liberal students. For example, if viewing two hypothetical television ads—one featuring an impoverished village in shambles after a failed food distribution program, and one showing clean, happy children after a successful well installation—liberals may be more likely to be convinced of the potential success of future aid programs.


by Ruby Member on Jan. 9, 2012 at 6:52 AM


The psychology of voting

Flagging up bias

The Stars and Stripes may change the outcomes of elections

Yes. But for whom?

FLAGS are powerful symbols. They appear on ships, parliaments, schools, lapels and even—sometimes—underwear. Exactly what effect they have on people’s behaviour, though, is seldom a topic of scientific inquiry.

Melissa Ferguson of Cornell University is trying to change that. In 2007 she and her colleagues conducted a study in Israel. They found that those who had had subliminal exposure to their country’s flag before being asked their political views expressed more moderate opinions about the Palestinian conflict than did those who were not shown the flag. Now Dr Ferguson has tried something similar in America, and found what some might see as a rather different effect: an enhanced tendency to vote Republican.

Her experiment began during the run-up to the presidential election of 2008. She recruited a pool of 396 participants via an online advertisement. Between September 19th and October 10th these volunteers were asked to fill in an online questionnaire that inquired, among other things, about their voting intentions. In particular, it asked them to indicate whether they planned to vote for Barack Obama or John McCain. The volunteers were also asked to rate their warmth towards each of the main political parties. In return for their time, participants received a $10 gift certificate.

They were then approached a second time, between October 11th and November 3rd, and offered a $15 certificate to answer more questions; 197 agreed to do so. During this second session, volunteers were given the same questionnaire as in the first, with one small difference. This was that half the questionnaires had a tiny American flag in the top left-hand corner of the page. After the election, which happened on November 4th, the double-participants were approached a third time, again with the offer of a $15 reward; 191 participated. They were asked if they had voted and, if so, who for.

The conclusion, which Dr Ferguson reports in a paper in Psychological Science, was that participants’ voting intentions were, indeed, affected by seeing the flag. The possible average scores on presidential voting intentions ranged from -10 (definitely voting for Mr Obama, definitely not voting for Mr McCain) to +10 (definitely voting for Mr McCain, definitely not voting for Mr Obama). The actual scores of those subsequently assigned to the two groups did not differ significantly the first time round. The second time, though, those who had been shown the flag were more weakly pro-Obama and more strongly pro-McCain, with a score of -3.0, than those who had not been shown the flag, who averaged -4.8.

For the political-party-warmth ratings, the potential score range was between -500 (extreme warmth towards Democrats, extreme cold towards Republicans) and +500 (extreme warmth towards Republicans, extreme cold towards Democrats). The team found that flag-viewers were cooler towards Democrats and warmer towards Republicans, with average scores of -90, while those who never saw a flag had scores that averaged -173.

Which is interesting, but might not be that important. Answering polling questions in the presence of a powerful symbol is not the same as voting. It was the response to the third inquiry that really mattered—for this showed that the difference was, indeed, carried into the polling booth. Whereas 83.5% of those participants in the study who were not shown the flag in the questionnaire said they had voted for Mr Obama, only 72.8% of those who had been shown the flag voted for him. Moreover, when the researchers went back a fourth time, in July 2009, and asked their volunteers to rate Mr Obama’s job performance, the effects of the flag still seemed to be present. Those who had seen it on the second questionnaire gave the president an average score of 6.76 out of 11; those who had not gave him an average of 8.01.

A final series of experiments, carried out in the spring of 2010 using a different group of participants, confirmed the original finding that seeing the flag inclines American voters to the Republicans—even though a Democrat had by then been in the White House for well over a year. That suggests incumbency was not a factor in the original result. The first set of volunteers were not simply associating the Stars and Stripes with the Republican presidency of George Bush junior.

Whether a shift to a more Republican frame of mind is a shift to moderation or not is, of course, a matter of opinion. As it happened, though, Mr Obama tended not to wear the flag during the election campaign. When reporters challenged him about this, he argued that it was because he had patriotism pinned to his heart. No doubt that was true. But perhaps if he had actually been wearing the flag, voters would not have associated it so strongly with Republicanism.

by Ruby Member on Jan. 9, 2012 at 6:53 AM



What makes people vote Republican? Why in particular do working class and rural Americans usually vote for pro-business Republicans when their economic interests would seem better served by Democratic policies? We psychologists have been examining the origins of ideology ever since Hitler sent us Germany's best psychologists, and we long ago reported that strict parenting and a variety of personal insecurities work together to turn people against liberalism, diversity, and progress. But now that we can map the brains, genes, and unconscious attitudes of conservatives, we have refined our diagnosis: conservatism is a partially heritable personality trait that predisposes some people to be cognitively inflexible, fond of hierarchy, and inordinately afraid of uncertainty, change, and death. People vote Republican because Republicans offer "moral clarity"—a simple vision of good and evil that activates deep seated fears in much of the electorate. Democrats, in contrast, appeal to reason with their long-winded explorations of policy options for a complex world.

Diagnosis is a pleasure. It is a thrill to solve a mystery from scattered clues, and it is empowering to know what makes others tick. In the psychological community, where almost all of us are politically liberal, our diagnosis of conservatism gives us the additional pleasure of shared righteous anger. We can explain how Republicans exploit frames, phrases, and fears to trick Americans into supporting policies (such as the "war on terror" and repeal of the "death tax") that damage the national interest for partisan advantage.

But with pleasure comes seduction, and with righteous pleasure comes seduction wearing a halo. Our diagnosis explains away Republican successes while convincing us and our fellow liberals that we hold the moral high ground. Our diagnosis tells us that we have nothing to learn from other ideologies, and it blinds us to what I think is one of the main reasons that so many Americans voted Republican over the last 30 years: they honestly prefer the Republican vision of a moral order to the one offered by Democrats. To see what Democrats have been missing, it helps to take off the halo, step back for a moment, and think about what morality really is.

I began to study morality and culture at the University of Pennsylvania in 1987. A then-prevalent definition of the moral domain, from the Berkeley psychologist Elliot Turiel, said that morality refers to "prescriptive judgments of justice, rights, and welfare pertaining to how people ought to relate to each other." But if morality is about how we treat each other, then why did so many ancient texts devote so much space to rules about menstruation, who can eat what, and who can have sex with whom? There is no rational or health-related way to explain these laws. (Why are grasshoppers kosher but most locusts are not?) The emotion of disgust seemed to me like a more promising explanatory principle. The book of Leviticus makes a lot more sense when you think of ancient lawgivers first sorting everything into two categories: "disgusts me" (gay male sex, menstruation, pigs, swarming insects) and "disgusts me less" (gay female sex, urination, cows, grasshoppers ).

For my dissertation research, I made up stories about people who did things that were disgusting or disrespectful yet perfectly harmless. For example, what do you think about a woman who can't find any rags in her house so she cuts up an old American flag and uses the pieces to clean her toilet, in private? Or how about a family whose dog is killed by a car, so they dismember the body and cook it for dinner? I read these stories to 180 young adults and 180 eleven-year-old children, half from higher social classes and half from lower, in the USA and in Brazil. I found that most of the people I interviewed said that the actions in these stories were morally wrong, even when nobody was harmed. Only one group—college students at Penn—consistently exemplified Turiel's definition of morality and overrode their own feelings of disgust to say that harmless acts were not wrong. (A few even praised the efficiency of recycling the flag and the dog).

This research led me to two conclusions. First, when gut feelings are present, dispassionate reasoning is rare. In fact, many people struggled to fabricate harmful consequences that could justify their gut-based condemnation. I often had to correct people when they said things like "it's wrong because… um…eating dog meat would make you sick" or "it's wrong to use the flag because… um… the rags might clog the toilet." These obviously post-hoc rationalizations illustrate the philosopher David Hume's dictum that reason is "the slave of the passions, and can pretend to no other office than to serve and obey them." This is the first rule of moral psychology: feelings come first and tilt the mental playing field on which reasons and arguments compete. If people want to reach a conclusion, they can usually find a way to do so. The Democrats have historically failed to grasp this rule, choosing uninspiring and aloof candidates who thought that policy arguments were forms of persuasion.

The second conclusion was that the moral domain varies across cultures. Turiel's description of morality as being about justice, rights, and human welfare worked perfectly for the college students I interviewed at Penn, but it simply did not capture the moral concerns of the less elite groups—the working-class people in both countries who were more likely to justify their judgments with talk about respect, duty, and family roles. ("Your dog is family, and you just don't eat family.") From this study I concluded that the anthropologist Richard Shweder was probably right in a 1987 critique of Turiel in which he claimed that the moral domain (not just specific rules) varies by culture. Drawing on Shweder's ideas, I would say that the second rule of moral psychology is that morality is not just about how we treat each other (as most liberals think); it is also about binding groups together, supporting essential institutions, and living in a sanctified and noble way.

When Republicans say that Democrats "just don't get it," this is the "it" to which they refer. Conservative positions on gays, guns, god, and immigration must be understood as means to achieve one kind of morally ordered society. When Democrats try to explain away these positions using pop psychology they err, they alienate, and they earn the label "elitist." But how can Democrats learn to see—let alone respect—a moral order they regard as narrow-minded, racist, and dumb?

After graduate school I moved to the University of Chicago to work with Shweder, and while there I got a fellowship to do research in India. In September 1993 I traveled to Bhubaneswar, an ancient temple town 200 miles southwest of Calcutta. I brought with me two incompatible identities. On the one hand, I was a 29 year old liberal atheist who had spent his politically conscious life despising Republican presidents, and I was charged up by the culture wars that intensified in the 1990s. On the other hand, I wanted to be like those tolerant anthropologists I had read so much about.

My first few weeks in Bhubaneswar were therefore filled with feelings of shock and confusion. I dined with men whose wives silently served us and then retreated to the kitchen. My hosts gave me a servant of my own and told me to stop thanking him when he served me. I watched people bathe in and cook with visibly polluted water that was held to be sacred. In short, I was immersed in a sex-segregated, hierarchically stratified, devoutly religious society, and I was committed to understanding it on its own terms, not on mine.

It only took a few weeks for my shock to disappear, not because I was a natural anthropologist but because the normal human capacity for empathy kicked in. I liked these people who were hosting me, helping me, and teaching me. And once I liked them (remember that first principle of moral psychology) it was easy to take their perspective and to consider with an open mind the virtues they thought they were enacting. Rather than automatically rejecting the men as sexist oppressors and pitying the women, children, and servants as helpless victims, I was able to see a moral world in which families, not individuals, are the basic unit of society, and the members of each extended family (including its servants) are intensely interdependent. In this world, equality and personal autonomy were not sacred values. Honoring elders, gods, and guests, and fulfilling one's role-based duties, were more important. Looking at America from this vantage point, what I saw now seemed overly individualistic and self-focused. For example, when I boarded the plane to fly back to Chicago I heard a loud voice saying "Look, you tell him that this is the compartment over MY seat, and I have a RIGHT to use it."

Back in the United States the culture war was going strong, but I had lost my righteous passion. I could never have empathized with the Christian Right directly, but once I had stood outside of my home morality, once I had tried on the moral lenses of my Indian friends and interview subjects, I was able to think about conservative ideas with a newfound clinical detachment. They want more prayer and spanking in schools, and less sex education and access to abortion? I didn't think those steps would reduce AIDS and teen pregnancy, but I could see why the religious right wanted to "thicken up" the moral climate of schools and discourage the view that children should be as free as possible to act on their desires. Conservatives think that welfare programs and feminism increase rates of single motherhood and weaken the traditional social structures that compel men to support their own children? Hmm, that may be true, even if there are also many good effects of liberating women from dependence on men. I had escaped from my prior partisan mindset (reject first, ask rhetorical questions later), and began to think about liberal and conservative policies as manifestations of deeply conflicting but equally heartfelt visions of the good society.

On Turiel's definition of morality ("justice, rights, and welfare"), Christian and Hindu communities don't look good. They restrict people's rights (especially sexual rights), encourage hierarchy and conformity to gender roles, and make people spend extraordinary amounts of time in prayer and ritual practices that seem to have nothing to do with "real" morality. But isn't it unfair to impose on all cultures a definition of morality drawn from the European Enlightenment tradition? Might we do better with an approach that defines moral systems by what they do rather than by what they value?

Here's my alternative definition: morality is any system of interlocking values, practices, institutions, and psychological mechanisms that work together to suppress or regulate selfishness and make social life possible. It turns out that human societies have found several radically different approaches to suppressing selfishness, two of which are most relevant for understanding what Democrats don't understand about morality.

First, imagine society as a social contract invented for our mutual benefit. All individuals are equal, and all should be left as free as possible to move, develop talents, and form relationships as they please. The patron saint of a contractual society is John Stuart Mill, who wrote (in On Liberty) that "the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others." Mill's vision appeals to many liberals and libertarians; a Millian society at its best would be a peaceful, open, and creative place where diverse individuals respect each other's rights and band together voluntarily (as in Obama's calls for "unity") to help those in need or to change the laws for the common good.

Psychologists have done extensive research on the moral mechanisms that are presupposed in a Millian society, and there are two that appear to be partly innate. First, people in all cultures are emotionally responsive to suffering and harm, particularly violent harm, and so nearly all cultures have norms or laws to protect individuals and to encourage care for the most vulnerable. Second, people in all cultures are emotionally responsive to issues of fairness and reciprocity, which often expand into notions of rights and justice. Philosophical efforts to justify liberal democracies and egalitarian social contracts invariably rely heavily on intuitions about fairness and reciprocity.

But now imagine society not as an agreement among individuals but as something that emerged organically over time as people found ways of living together, binding themselves to each other, suppressing each other's selfishness, and punishing the deviants and free-riders who eternally threaten to undermine cooperative groups. The basic social unit is not the individual, it is the hierarchically structured family, which serves as a model for other institutions. Individuals in such societies are born into strong and constraining relationships that profoundly limit their autonomy. The patron saint of this more binding moral system is the sociologist Emile Durkheim, who warned of the dangers of anomie (normlessness), and wrote, in 1897, that "Man cannot become attached to higher aims and submit to a rule if he sees nothing above him to which he belongs. To free himself from all social pressure is to abandon himself and demoralize him." A Durkheimian society at its best would be a stable network composed of many nested and overlapping groups that socialize, reshape, and care for individuals who, if left to their own devices, would pursue shallow, carnal, and selfish pleasures. A Durkheimian society would value self-control over self-expression, duty over rights, and loyalty to one's groups over concerns for outgroups.

A Durkheimian ethos can't be supported by the two moral foundations that hold up a Millian society (harm/care and fairness/reciprocity). My recent research shows that social conservatives do indeed rely upon those two foundations, but they also value virtues related to three additional psychological systems: ingroup/loyalty (involving mechanisms that evolved during the long human history of tribalism), authority/respect (involving ancient primate mechanisms for managing social rank, tempered by the obligation of superiors to protect and provide for subordinates), and purity/sanctity (a relatively new part of the moral mind, related to the evolution of disgust, that makes us see carnality as degrading and renunciation as noble). These three systems support moralities that bind people into intensely interdependent groups that work together to reach common goals. Such moralities make it easier for individuals to forget themselves and coalesce temporarily into hives, a process that is thrilling, as anyone who has ever "lost" him or herself in a choir, protest march, or religious ritual can attest.

In several large internet surveys, my collaborators Jesse Graham, Brian Nosek and I have found that people who call themselves strongly liberal endorse statements related to the harm/care and fairness/reciprocity foundations, and they largely reject statements related to ingroup/loyalty, authority/respect, and purity/sanctity. People who call themselves strongly conservative, in contrast, endorse statements related to all five foundations more or less equally. (You can test yourself at We think of the moral mind as being like an audio equalizer, with five slider switches for different parts of the moral spectrum. Democrats generally use a much smaller part of the spectrum than do Republicans. The resulting music may sound beautiful to other Democrats, but it sounds thin and incomplete to many of the swing voters that left the party in the 1980s, and whom the Democrats must recapture if they want to produce a lasting political realignment.

In The Political Brain, Drew Westen points out that the Republicans have become the party of the sacred, appropriating not just the issues of God, faith, and religion, but also the sacred symbols of the nation such as the Flag and the military. The Democrats, in the process, have become the party of the profane—of secular life and material interests. Democrats often seem to think of voters as consumers; they rely on polls to choose a set of policy positions that will convince 51% of the electorate to buy. Most Democrats don't understand that politics is more like religion than it is like shopping.

Religion and political leadership are so intertwined across eras and cultures because they are about the same thing: performing the miracle of converting unrelated individuals into a group. Durkheim long ago said that God is really society projected up into the heavens, a collective delusion that enables collectives to exist, suppress selfishness, and endure. The three Durkheimian foundations (ingroup, authority, and purity) play a crucial role in most religions. When they are banished entirely from political life, what remains is a nation of individuals striving to maximize utility while respecting the rules. What remains is a cold but fair social contract, which can easily degenerate into a nation of shoppers.

The Democrats must find a way to close the sacredness gap that goes beyond occasional and strategic uses of the words "God" and "faith." But if Durkheim is right, then sacredness is really about society and its collective concerns. God is useful but not necessary. The Democrats could close much of the gap if they simply learned to see society not just as a collection of individuals—each with a panoply of rights--but as an entity in itself, an entity that needs some tending and caring. Our national motto is e pluribus unum ("from many, one"). Whenever Democrats support policies that weaken the integrity and identity of the collective (such as multiculturalism, bilingualism, and immigration), they show that they care more about pluribus than unum. They widen the sacredness gap.

A useful heuristic would be to think about each issue, and about the Party itself, from the perspective of the three Durkheimian foundations. Might the Democrats expand their moral range without betraying their principles? Might they even find ways to improve their policies by incorporating and publicly praising some conservative insights?

The ingroup/loyalty foundation supports virtues of patriotism and self-sacrifice that can lead to dangerous nationalism, but in moderate doses a sense that "we are all one" is a recipe for high social capital and civic well-being. A recent study by Robert Putnam (titled E Pluribus Unum) found that ethnic diversity increases anomie and social isolation by decreasing people's sense of belonging to a shared community. Democrats should think carefully, therefore, about why they celebrate diversity. If the purpose of diversity programs is to fight racism and discrimination (worthy goals based on fairness concerns), then these goals might be better served by encouraging assimilation and a sense of shared identity.

The purity/sanctity foundation is used heavily by the Christian right to condemn hedonism and sexual "deviance," but it can also be harnessed for progressive causes. Sanctity does not have to come from God; the psychology of this system is about overcoming our lower, grasping, carnal selves in order to live in a way that is higher, nobler, and more spiritual. Many liberals criticize the crassness and ugliness that our unrestrained free-market society has created. There is a long tradition of liberal anti-materialism often linked to a reverence for nature. Environmental and animal welfare issues are easily promoted using the language of harm/care, but such appeals might be more effective when supplemented with hints of purity/sanctity.

The authority/respect foundation will be the hardest for Democrats to use. But even as liberal bumper stickers urge us to "question authority" and assert that "dissent is patriotic," Democrats can ask what needs this foundation serves, and then look for other ways to meet them. The authority foundation is all about maintaining social order, so any candidate seen to be "soft on crime" has disqualified himself, for many Americans, from being entrusted with the ultimate authority. Democrats would do well to read Durkheim and think about the quasi-religious importance of the criminal justice system. The miracle of turning individuals into groups can only be performed by groups that impose costs on cheaters and slackers. You can do this the authoritarian way (with strict rules and harsh penalties) or you can do it using the fairness/reciprocity foundation by stressing personal responsibility and the beneficence of the nation towards those who "work hard and play by the rules." But if you don't do it at all—if you seem to tolerate or enable cheaters and slackers -- then you are committing a kind of sacrilege.

If Democrats want to understand what makes people vote Republican, they must first understand the full spectrum of American moral concerns. They should then consider whether they can use more of that spectrum themselves. The Democrats would lose their souls if they ever abandoned their commitment to social justice, but social justice is about getting fair relationships among the parts of the nation. This often divisive struggle among the parts must be balanced by a clear and oft-repeated commitment to guarding the precious coherence of the whole. America lacks the long history, small size, ethnic homogeneity, and soccer mania that holds many other nations together, so our flag, our founding fathers, our military, and our common language take on a moral importance that many liberals find hard to fathom.

Unity is not the great need of the hour, it is the eternal struggle of our immigrant nation. The three Durkheimian foundations of ingroup, authority, and purity are powerful tools in that struggle. Until Democrats understand this point, they will be vulnerable to the seductive but false belief that Americans vote for Republicans primarily because they have been duped into doing so.

by Ruby Member on Jan. 9, 2012 at 6:53 AM


Comparison of Idealist, Commercial and Guardian Syndromes

from the not-just-a-comment,-it's-a-commentary dept.
Tom McKendree writes, "Pat Gratton's idea of a third moral syndrome, Idealist, to complement the Commercial and Guardian syndromes described in Jane Jacob's Systems of Survival, is sufficiently compelling to deserve further exploration. (For more discussion of this concept, see the original story on nanodot).

I've tried to compare the three syndromes, matching characteristics where I could, and guessing characteristics where there seemed to be holes. From this exercise, I would guess that the Idealist Moral Syndrome also says 'Respect truth,' 'Collaborate easily with strangers and aliens for the sake of the task,' and 'Treasure standing in the subject area community.'"

Click Read More… to view Tom's table summarizing the comparison. Pat Gratton's idea of a third moral syndrome, Idealist, to complement the Commercial and Guardian syndromes described in Jane Jacob's Systems of Survival, is sufficiently compelling to deserve further exploration. (For more discussion of this concept, see the original story on nanodot).

I've tried to compare the three syndromes, matching characteristics where I could, and guessing characteristics where there seemed to be holes. >From this exercise, I would guess that the Idealist Moral Syndrome also says "Respect truth," "Collaborate easily with strangers and aliens for the sake of the task," and "Treasure standing in the subject area community."

A table summarizing this effort is summarized below. Any words added to the characterizations of the syndromes are marked in brackets and italics [like this]–everything else is the words of Jane Jacobs or Pat Gratton. Question marks indicate particularly unsure guesses.




Shun force

Shun force

[Rely on force]

Shun trading

[Rely on trading]

Shun trading

Dedication to the Ideal [Demand purity for the sake of the task]

[Seek/accept pragmatic solutions]

[Seek/accept contingent solutions]

Exert prowess

Use initiative and enterprise

Exert prowess

[Be honest?; Respect truth?]

Be honest

Deceive for the sake of the task

Be unique [Dissent for the sake of uniqueness]

Dissent for the sake of the task

Be obedient and disciplined

[Be open to inventiveness and novelty]

Be open to inventiveness and novelty

Adhere to tradition

Shun authority

[Shun uncontracted authority]

Respect hierarchy

[Collaborate easily with strangers and aliens for the sake of the task]

Collaborate easily with strangers and aliens

Be exclusive

Shun comfort

Promote comfort and convenience

Make rich use of leisure

Be passionate

Be optimistic

Be fatalistic

Ignore ownership

Invest for productive purposes

Be ostentatious

Accept largesse

Be thrifty

Dispense largesse

Respect authorship

Respect contracts

Be loyal

[Demonstrate the superiority of your own ideal]


[Seek a monopoly on force]

[Respect joint authorship]

Come to voluntary agreements

[Negotiate when necessary]

[Be correct and true]

Be efficient

[Be superior]

[Respect joint authorship]

Be industrious

Show fortitude

Honor prowess

[Honor success]

[Honor prowess]

["One-up" slights?; Nurse grudges??]

[Write-off sunk costs]

Take vengeance

[Treasure standing in the subject area community]

[Treasure reputation]

Treasure honor

7 Responses to “Comparison of Idealist, Commercial and Guardian Syndromes”

  1. Douglas Reay Says:

    Further Correlations

    Gratton mentioned the parallels between these three syndromes and the three cultures referenced by Eric Raymond.

    • Guardian : command hierarchy
    • Commercial : exchange economy
    • Idealist : gift culture

    I think there are also parallels to how people identify. Do they respect others and get their own self esteem from:

    • What they are and represent? (Guardian)
    • What they have and can get? (Commercial)
    • What they have done and can do? (Idealist)

    Yet another factor to which one could draw parallels is the attitude to risk. Do you try doing something new:

    • only if there is a 95% certainty if won't be worse than the current outcome? (Guardian)
    • as long as there is over a 50% certainty of better outcomes over worse outcomes? (Commercial)
    • as long as there is a 5% or more chance of a better outcome? (Idealist)

    Finally, it is an interesting question to consider what the relationship is between ethics, the economics fostered by the environment and practices of subcultures and personality typings such as Myers-Briggs, and in which directions cause and effect run.

by Ruby Member on Jan. 9, 2012 at 6:54 AM


Liberal, Conservative Related to Different Brain Structures

By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on April 11, 2011

Liberal, Conservative Related to Different Brain StructuresEmerging research suggests personality traits and even political orientation are linked to preferred use and corresponding size variance of different areas of our brain.

A new study suggests individuals who call themselves liberals are more likely to have brains that have a larger anterior cingulate cortex while conservatives have larger amygdalas.

According to what is known about the functions of those two brain regions, the structural differences are consistent with some reports showing a greater ability of liberals to cope with conflicting information and a greater ability of conservatives to recognize a threat.

The study is found in the online version of Current Biology.

"Previously, some psychological traits were known to be predictive of an individual's political orientation," said Ryota Kanai of the University College London. "Our study now links such personality traits with specific brain structure."

Kanai said his study was prompted by reports from others showing greater anterior cingulate cortex response to conflicting information among liberals.

"That was the first neuroscientific evidence for biological differences between liberals and conservatives," he explained.

Prior research has suggested that conservatives are more sensitive to threat or anxiety in the face of uncertainty, while liberals tend to be more open to new experiences.

Kanai's team suspected that such fundamental differences in personality might show up in the brain.

Nevertheless, researchers cannot determine if the size of our brain structures shape personality, or if brain structures are shaped by what an individual experiences and believes over the course of a lifetime.

Further, things are usually more complicated with political views spanning a large spectrum rather than simply liberal or conservative.

"In principle, our research method can be applied to find brain structure differences in political dimensions other than the simplistic left- versus right-wingers," Kanai said.

Perhaps differences in the brain explain why some people really have no interest in politics at all or why some people line up for Macs while others stick with their PCs. All of these tendencies may be related in interesting ways to the peculiarities of our personalities and in turn to the way our brains are put together.

Still, Kanai cautioned against taking the findings too far, citing many uncertainties about how the correlations they see come about.

"It's very unlikely that actual political orientation is directly encoded in these brain regions," he said. "More work is needed to determine how these brain structures mediate the formation of political attitude."

Source: Cell Press

by Andie on Jan. 9, 2012 at 7:03 AM
Bumping so I can find this one later. Too much for me to try and ingest before the kiddos go to school!!
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
by Ruby Member on Jan. 9, 2012 at 7:05 AM

Numbers within the American population, by Myers Briggs type:

Protectors (SJ)

ESTJ - Overseer, supervisor = 11.8%
ESFJ - Supporter, provider = 11.7%
ISTJ - Examiner, inspector = 9.8%
ISFJ - Defender, protector = 9.9%
All SJs = 43.2%

Creators (SP)

ESTP - Persuader, promoter = 8.4%
ESFP - Entertainer, performer = 10.3%
ISTP - Craftsman, mechanic = 6.4%
ISFP - Artist, composer = 7.9%
All SPs = 33%

Intellectuals (NT)

ENTJ - Chief, fieldmarshal = 3.2%
ENTP - Originator, inventor = 3.7%
INTJ - Strategist, mastermind = 1.5%
INTP - Engineer, architect = 2.2%
All NTs = 10.6%

Visionaries (NF)

ENFJ - Mentor, teacher = 3.4%
ENFP - Advocate, idealist = 4.2%
INFJ - Confidant, empath = 1.2%
INFP - Dreamer, healer = 2.4%
All NFs = 11.2%

Political leanings, by type:

Probably the best source of information is provided by responses collected when Consulting Psychologists' Press revised the MBTI in 1998. The revision process involved a representative national sample of more than 3000 people in the United States. One of the questions asked concerned party affiliation.

Results from the survey are shown in the type table below. Take a moment to study the table and see if you can find any patterns.



Some interesting findings:

  • The INT’s (INTJ and INTP) are strongly Republican and Independent over Democrat.
  • The INF’s (INFJ and INFP) are strongly Democrat and Independent over Republican.
  • The NTP’s (INTP and ENTP) are more strongly Independent than any of the other 16 MBTI types.
  • The TJ’s (INTJ, ENTJ, ISTJ, ESTJ) are more strongly Republican than any of the other 16 MBTI types.


by Ruby Member on Jan. 9, 2012 at 7:19 AM

by Ruby Member on Jan. 9, 2012 at 7:23 AM
4 moms liked this

I like the OP, and what I skimmed of Clairwil's studies was interesting.

While I have no problem understanding the POV of moderate Republicans, some of the stuff the right wingers come up with is crazy.  I'll never forget the first time someone, who had never discussed the potential candidates with me, (this was the 2008 election) suddenly accused me of thinking Obama was the messiah.  I wasn't up on right-wing hate talk regarding Obama at the time, I was taken aback and tried to explain that while I had originally been a Hillary Clinton supporter, I though Obama was smart and had other qualities I thought would serve him well as a President, and I was willing to get behind him for the election.  The person then continued to say I thought Obama was the messiah.  This then repeatedly happened for the next year and more.  

No matter how many times I said Obama wasn't perfect, and how I disagreed with some of the stuff he did, Republicans in real life and especially on CM continued to insist I worshipped Obama, or they then insisted that I would have to quit supporting him alltogether, otherwise I was a "hypocrite."  Many of them were incapeable of believing that while I disagreed with a bunch of Obama's actions, I also agreed with enough of them, and furthermore, believed that the general direction he was taking was net positive.  They could NOT wrap their minds around that.

It's as though Republicans value a strict, group mindset, more than a relaxed thought process capable of realizing shades of gray.  It's kind of like all or nothing with them.  I think some of Clairwil's studies support that aspect.

by Ruby Member on Jan. 9, 2012 at 7:46 AM
8 moms liked this
Quoting stacymomof2:

what I skimmed of Clairwil's studies was interesting.


If you read the studies, and decided upon their validity based upon the methodology of each - you're a Democrat at heart

If you read the conclusion of each, then decided upon their validity depending on if it was pro-Republican - you're a Republican at heart

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