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Jon Haidt at TED: Breaking the Stranglehold of Partisan Politics
Debt Ceiling Crisis | July 27, 2011

Jon Haidt at TED: Breaking the Stranglehold of Partisan Politics

If ever there was a week for Democrats and Republicans to put aside partisan differences and find common ground, this is it. As the debt ceiling crisis threatens to plunge us into a recession, and a nation holds its collective breath, both sides of the political divide seem no closer to compromise. They appear as stand-offish, as unmoving, as ever. Why is this? What makes politicians partisan? And, more importantly, how can we move past close-minded positions to find mutual understanding, incorporate openness of dialogue, and see things from different points of view? How can we stop squabbling and start a healthy conversation?

Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt holds some of the answers. In his classic TED talk, he helps audiences dismantle the stubborn barriers between left and right. And if ever there was a time to rewatch this TED talk, this is it. According to Haidt, in today’s toxic political climate, a massive barrier facing the left and right is something called team psychology: we band together with our own and discount others. A “You’re With Us or Against Us” mindset traps us in a moral matrix where we either live in delusion or set ourselves free. “When people share morals they become a team, and teams shut down open-minded thinking,” says Haidt. He adds that we must remember that two opposing sides act as a yin and a yang, neither is good or bad, but both are necessary for the functioning of the world. What to do then? Step back and see a struggle, like the debt ceiling crisis, as one where each side thinks they're right. That's the first step of setting ourselves free and moving toward solutions.

Read more about Social psychology speaker Jonathan Haidt

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