Professor Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist at the University of Virginia, recently published a book titled Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion that brings calls into mind new question regarding political polarization in the United States, while at the same time evaluating the changing views of American political parties. The book attempts to cover the spectrum of different ideas ranging from the disparities of political communication to the morals that create groups and societies. In a New York Times article William Saletan, Slate Magazine's national correspondent, and author of "Bearing Right: How Conservatives Won the Abortion War" summarizes the book and provides a brief discussion on it.
In the discussion regarding the book, Saletan really seemed to focus on the rhetoric of politics. He argues that when it comes to politics, people who try to argue to other people's logic rarely ever win, because people choose political parties based on their morals. Therefore, when it comes to political discussion, it's more beneficial to try and discussion the morality of it, then to use reason. The example that Haitd used in his book was a study in which he asked participants
Is it wrong to have sex with a dead chicken? How about with your sister? Is it O.K. to defecate in a urinal? If your dog dies, why not eat it?
He concluded that under interrogation, most subjects in psychology experiments agree these things are wrong. But none can explain why. This shows how people who have strong beliefs struggle with the ability to justify them, when they are just based on morals. This in turn translates into the difficult political rhetoric many face.
For more information on Haidt and his research visit his website