Questions About Booking a
LAVIN Keynote Speaker?
1 800 265 4870
The Lavin Blog
Break The Stalemate: Jonathan Haidt On Ending Hyper-Partisanship
Politics | January 14, 2013

Break The Stalemate: Jonathan Haidt On Ending Hyper-Partisanship

As Jonathan Haidt explains in a recent interview on MSNBC, outsider threats are no longer bringing society together the way they once did. Instead, there are dozens of theoretical "asteroids" hurtling toward us, ready to destroy society, that are tearing us apart. We are living in an increasingly hyper-partisan political system where each side holds fast to their views. While there's nothing wrong with partisanship and debate, Haidt says the problem is that neither party is willing to even hear the views of the other side. Even though each side has legitimate problems they are trying to address, nothing gets done because the two sides can't come to a consensus on what's important to the country. Hyper-partisanship is thus blinding us to obvious problems—and to their solutions.

In the interview, he offers two suggestions to help slow the slide into a complete societal divide. First, he suggests we elect fewer hyper-partisans and have more open primaries. While he admits the problem exists as a result of the way congress operates—and only congress can fix itself—we as the electorate should support candidates who are willing to work together with the entire political body. Many of the biggest problems facing society today are solvable, he believes. To come to effective solutions, we need to put leaders in charge who aren't going to ignore the suggestions of their opposition. Effective leaders need to be able to abandon partisanship when the good of the country demands they find common ground on certain issues.

To alleviate hyper-partisan pressures, Haidt suggests that the electorate adopts a "citizens united" mindset. We need to explore different methods of organizing our system so that hyper-partisanship isn't seen as the only way to advance your party's agenda forward. Further, Haidt says we should be attempting to squash this mentality at the citizen level. Instead of debating a common issue, he suggests we try to explain to someone who disagrees with us why we feel so strongly about one issue—and have them do the same about a separate issue. The hope is that having your opposition budge a little bit on their stance can help open you up to seeing their point of view as well. "Build on human relationships...use the power of reciprocity and acknowledgment to break people out the stalemate," he posits. Haidt is the author of The Righteous Mind and is an expert on morality, emotion, and positive psychology. He speaks with refreshing honesty on how we can work together with those who share our beliefs, and, more importantly, with those who don't.
Sign up for our e-newsletter * Required
First Name *
Last Name *
Email *
I'm Interested In *