"The world can no longer be left to mere diplomats, politicians, and business leaders. They have done the best they could, no doubt. But this is an age for spiritual heroes- a time for men and women to be heroic in their faith and in spiritual character and power."
Dallas Willard, Spirit of the Disciplines
Depolarizing Within Online Workshop
Republished from Mount Horeb Mail, courtesy of Matt Geiger, Editor.
March 17, 2020, Mount Horeb, WI
On Saturday, February 22nd at the Mount Horeb Community Center, about 20 or so people from the left and right gathered to start what we hope will become a broader and deeper discussion about the divisive politics that threaten to tear the country apart.
Pew Research on Political Polarization
Partisan Antipathy: More Intense, More Personal
Majority of Republicans say Democrats are 'more unpatriotic' than other Americans
Three years ago, Pew Research Center found that the 2016 presidential campaign was "unfolding against a backdrop of intense partisan division and animosity." Today, the level of division and animosity - including negative sentiments among partisans toward the members of the opposing party - has only deepened.
For example, 55% of Republicans say Democrats are "more immoral" when compared with other Americans; 47% of Democrats say the same about Republicans. Three years ago, 47% of Republicans and 35% of Democrats said members of the other party were less moral than other people.
Jonathan Haidt Is Trying to Heal America's Divisions
Haidt laments the state of contemporary American politics, believing that on both the right and the left we're seeing populism that responds to real problems but in illiberal ways. "On the right," he said, "the populism there is really explicitly xenophobic and often explicitly racist ... I think we see strands of populism on the right that are authoritarian, that I would say are incompatible with a tolerant, pluralistic, open democracy."
But on the left, Haidt said, "there's been a movement that has made something else sacred, that has not focused on liberty, but that is focused instead on oppression and victimhood and victimization. And once you get into a framework of seeing your fellow citizens as good versus evil based on their group, it's kind of a mirror image of the authoritarian populism on the right. Any movement that is assigning moral value to people just by looking at them is a movement I want no part of."
Haidt went on: "I think this is a very important point for us to all keep in mind, that left and right in this country are not necessarily liberal and conservative anymore. On the left, it's really clear that there are elements that many of us consider to be very illiberal; and on the right, it's hard to see how Trump and many of his supporters are conservatives who have any link whatsoever to Edmund Burke. It's very hard for me to see that. You know, I would love to live in a country with true liberals and true conservatives that engage with each other. That, I think, is a very productive disagreement. But it's the illiberalism on each side that is making our politics so ugly, I believe."