"Now, for the first time, the two parties are really different sorts of people with different personalities and different values," Jonathan Haidt
says in a new, post-election interview
. "It’s not just collections of interest groups, it’s really much more of a clear moral split than it ever was before." The author of the bestselling book The Righteous Mind
is an expert on moral psychology and uses his work on morality and the human condition to explain why the Republican and Democratic parties have been in stalemate for the past several years. As he explained in the interview, after President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964, a long process of purification begun where the, "Republican party became all conservative and the Democratic party became all liberals...[and] there’s no sign of improvement, and there are plenty of signs that things are getting worse." America's political deadlock was a heated issue during the recent presidential election, but Haidt says it will still be something to worry about now that the race is over and there are national issues to address.
So what does Haidt say the parties must do in order to better relate to each other and create a more cohesive political climate? The parties, especially the Republicans, need to get out of the "moralistic spiral" they are in, Haidt argues. "A basic principle of morality is that morality 'binds and blinds,'" he explains in the interview, "and the more a group circles around its sacred value, the blinder it goes." This leaves each party so focused on their own moral views that they cannot comprehend, let alone agree with, the moral principles of the other party. Until these parties can dig themselves out of these moral spirals, "they will neither have their ideas heard nor deserve to have their ideas heard." A coveted TED speaker, Haidt's theories on political partisanship and personal morality have changed the way we talk about modern politics.