Confirmed: Conservatives understand liberal positions better than liberals understand conservative positions

posted at 1:21 pm on April 13, 2012 by Tina Korbe

At The American, AEI resident scholar Andrew Biggs highlights an interesting study that confirms what most conservatives probably already know to be true of themselves: We understand why our liberal friends think what they think more than they understand why we think what we think.

[University of Virginia professor Jonathan] Haidt’s research asks individuals to answer questionnaires regarding their core moral beliefs—what sorts of values they consider sacred, which they would compromise on, and how much it would take to get them to make those compromises. By themselves, these exercises are interesting. (Try them online and see where you come out.)

But Haidt’s research went one step further, asking self-indentified conservatives to answer those questionnaires as if they were liberals and for liberals to do the opposite. What Haidt found is that conservatives understand liberals’ moral values better than liberals understand where conservatives are coming from. Worse yet, liberals don’t know what they don’t know; they don’t understand how limited their knowledge of conservative values is. If anyone is close-minded here it’s not conservatives.

Haidt has one theory to explain his results, while Biggs has another. Haidt says conservatives speak a broader and more encompassing language of six moral values, while liberals focus on a narrow subset of those values. Biggs says conservatives understand liberal positions because they’re inundated with them — by the media, by academia, even to a certain extent by the culture.

Haidt and Biggs both have a point. It takes just about a year of actively debating politics or witnessing the debate of politics to realize that (a) the two parties to the debate don’t speak the same language and (b) the liberal party will have few opportunities to learn the conservative’s language. It’s not only that we don’t use the same words, it’s that we also assign completely different meanings to the same words.

The president’s prattling about the Buffett Rule is a perfect example. He repeatedly uses the word “fair” when he discusses this rule that would require anyone who earns more than $1 million a year to pay at least 30 percent in taxes. The Buffett Rule is actually officially named “The Paying a Fair Share Act.”

Conservatives have been quick to cede the word “fair” to the president. Instead of debating whether The Buffett Rule actually is fair, we’ve focused on the idea that economic growth and entitlement reform are the  keys to deficit reduction. We know that our definition of “fair” is different than liberals’ definition of “fair,” so we’re never going to be able to convince liberals that the Buffett Rule actually is unfair. In a world dominated by liberal influences in the media, academy and culture, we have no choice but focus on the fact that The Buffett Rule would do very little to reduce the deficit.

If liberals understood the conservative definition of “fair,” they might better understand how it’s possible to oppose the Buffett Rule. As the debate stands at this moment, it’s conceivable that the average liberal thinks conservatives actually oppose a rule we think is fair just because we don’t think it will adequately reduce the deficit. But why would anybody oppose a fair rule? In fact, we oppose the Buffett Rule because, by our definition, it is unfair — not to mention that it does very little to reduce the deficit. (As an aside, I’ve been searching for an article in which a conservative argues explicitly that the Buffett Rule is unfair and am finding it surprisingly hard to find. Has anybody read a good one?)

The word “just” is defined as “based on right.” Our concept of what is fair starts with our concept of what is a right. Whereas progressives think that rights are given by the government, conservatives think that “we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights.” Among our God-given rights is the right to keep the fruits of our labor. So far, I have never heard a good argument that we have a right or a claim to the fruits of others’ labor unless they have promised them to us for some reason. We certainly never have an intrinsic a priori claim on the fruits of someone else’s labor.

As long as he is allowed to keep what he has earned, the conservative thinks he has been treated fairly — even if others have more than he has. The liberal has a completely different definition of fairness. Liberals seem to think we have a right to the same fruits no matter what our labor.

It is true that different kinds and quantities of work yield different kinds and quantities of fruits. That is sometimes hard to take — but if, in the end, we receive the fruits we agreed to when we selected our labor, then the fruits we receive are fair. (For example, if we agree to a particular day’s wages and we receive that day’s wages, then we have been treated fairly. Nobody changed the deal to which we agreed.) In making the choice to be a secretary and not a hedge fund manager, for example, the secretary forgoes some of the fruits of the hedge fund manager — but obtains some fruits the hedge fund manager never tastes, say the fruit of more time to spend with family or the fruit of less stress. If we are not content with the fruits of our labor, perhaps we ought first to consider changing our labor, rather than demand we be given different fruits.

One last thought: Conservatives clearly have a more expansive view of what constitutes “fruits.” We do not measure success and fairness solely by money. In the example above, I recognize the worth of time off and less pressure — two intangibles. For all that liberals like to talk about conservative greed, it’s interesting that conservatives can content themselves with less money in exchange for other benefits whereas liberals seem blind to those benefits and just want the money.

Update: Here is the link to Andrew Biggs’ post. My apologies for forgetting to include it before!


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Proof that conservatives drink more beer.

BobMbx on April 13, 2012 at 1:23 PM

It’s because we escaped the insanity.

OkieDoc on April 13, 2012 at 1:23 PM

Many conservatives used to be liberals when they were younger.

Most liberals have always been liberal. It’s why they’re more likely to dehumanize and treat conservatives as evil.

BadgerHawk on April 13, 2012 at 1:24 PM

One last thought: Conservatives clearly have a more expansive view of what constitutes “fruits.”

Yes, most of us know who the “fruits” are. Oh, wait, you were talking fruits, as in labor. Nevermind.

upinak on April 13, 2012 at 1:25 PM

If you are going to use Don Adams you should have used the “Cone of Silence”.

wildcat72 on April 13, 2012 at 1:26 PM

The lib responses over the Rosen subject demonstrate this very clearly. They just do not get it.

dogsoldier on April 13, 2012 at 1:26 PM

Many conservatives used to be liberals when they were younger.

Most liberals have always been liberal. It’s why they’re more likely to dehumanize and treat conservatives as evil.

BadgerHawk on April 13, 2012 at 1:24 PM

Agreed I was a raving liberal when I was younger. Thought everything should be fair, and then I had my first child and got mugged by life. Suddenly I understood my dad’s “Life is not fair.”

melle1228 on April 13, 2012 at 1:27 PM

Boy, isn’t this the truth! I’m always amazed in any political argument that I know all their side, but they have no idea that the points to be made for my side, or the events involved, even exist!

Alana on April 13, 2012 at 1:27 PM

We understand why our liberal friends think what they think

Because they’re suffering from a mental illness?

Trafalgar on April 13, 2012 at 1:27 PM

I didn’t count how many times you put the word “fruit” in this post, but let’s just say it has a “fruity” flavor.

Bitter Clinger on April 13, 2012 at 1:28 PM

I’m waiting for the next poll, to see if conservatives understand liberal positions better than liberals understand liberal positions.

There seem to be an awful lot of mindless zombies on the left who do whatever they’re told, regardless of logic.

teke184 on April 13, 2012 at 1:28 PM

Lovin’ the Get Smart photo!!!

Liberty 5-3001 on April 13, 2012 at 1:28 PM

Suddenly I understood my dad’s “Life is not fair.”

melle1228 on April 13, 2012 at 1:27 PM

Well, at least you figured it out. What about the idiots that don’t? I want to know how they live in their bubble without the slightest thought on who, where, why, what and how they make it through.

upinak on April 13, 2012 at 1:28 PM

Many conservatives used to be liberals when they were younger.

BadgerHawk on April 13, 2012 at 1:24 PM

“If you’re not a liberal when you’re 25, you have no heart. If you’re not a conservative by the time you’re 35, you have no brain.” – attributed to Winston Churchill

Trafalgar on April 13, 2012 at 1:29 PM

No kidding.
Liberals not only don’t understand, they don’t care and have zero intellectual curiousity.
That is why it is impossible to argue with a lib.

ORconservative on April 13, 2012 at 1:29 PM

Many conservatives used to be liberals when they were younger.

Most liberals have always been liberal. It’s why they’re more likely to dehumanize and treat conservatives as evil.

BadgerHawk on April 13, 2012 at 1:24 PM

So true. It’s rare someone goes the other direction.

Bitter Clinger on April 13, 2012 at 1:30 PM

Adults better understand what it’s like to be a child than a child understands what it means to be an adult.

Most, if not all, conservatives were liberals in their youth…and then they grew up. Liberals simply found a way around the “growing up” process.

ceedude on April 13, 2012 at 1:30 PM

It says better plainly that Conservatives understand both sides of the debate and have chosen their side. Liberals only understand their side and have not even listened to the other side (indoctrination)

tflst5 on April 13, 2012 at 1:31 PM

Furthermore, even this study is lost on most liberals.

NapaConservative on April 13, 2012 at 1:31 PM

Cain – SIN

Stay off topic, Ignore the facts, Name call. Try reasoning with a sinner.

ahlaphus on April 13, 2012 at 1:31 PM

BadgerHawk on April 13, 2012 at 1:24 PM

Yep. I am but one example. I think it is only logical to move from a position of ignorance to a position of understanding. Liberalism really is nothing but a power grab or a soft headed desire to do good without knowing a damn thing about outcomes. Thus it is no surprise at all conservatives understand the liberal mind more readily then liberals understand the conservative mind.

NotCoach on April 13, 2012 at 1:31 PM

The impulse in liberals to do something (anything!) is impossible to overcome. In their minds, any change is better than no change, even if it’s change for the worse.

mchristian on April 13, 2012 at 1:32 PM

I have observed this over and over again.

Prufrock on April 13, 2012 at 1:32 PM

They don’t really have any “positions.”

Most leftists are leftists because:

A. They want society to sanction whatever vice they have
B. They want government to get back at somebody for them
C. They’re lazy/jealous
D. They crave power
E. White guilt
F. Utopian fantasies of youth that haven’t yet faced reality

Try and engage a leftist in an economic discussion… you will almost certainly get something about “the rich” and “greed” and “fairness”… then minorities, women and gays will somehow creep in as well… long before they get around to explaining how their chosen system actually is supposed to work in the real world.

Go ahead, I dare you.

mankai on April 13, 2012 at 1:32 PM

I’m always amazed at how my liberal friends interpret conservative policies.

It’s rare that I find a liberal that’s actually a fan of wealth redistribution or an expansion of government, it’s almost always people who just have an unfortunate chip on their shoulder towards organized religion or traditional morals.

I always though that was a ridiculous caricature that the Republican Party was some sort of Theocratic Party, but after seeing Rick Santorum in action, I can at least somewhat understand that sentiment.

BradTank on April 13, 2012 at 1:32 PM

Just look at the Hot Air wall of shame…for all those recently banned…kind of proves out this study…doesn’t it???…

PatriotRider on April 13, 2012 at 1:33 PM

It’s a Willard’s fault and the activist SCOTUS

/liberal4life

NoFanofLibs on April 13, 2012 at 1:33 PM

to quote Maxwell Smart:

“Would you believe!”

ToddPA on April 13, 2012 at 1:33 PM

Hey, this is the same thing Kristol wrote about the other week.

We were sure someone had hacked into his NYT account and was impersonating him. :)

Prufrock on April 13, 2012 at 1:34 PM

Well, at least you figured it out. What about the idiots that don’t? I want to know how they live in their bubble without the slightest thought on who, where, why, what and how they make it through.

upinak on April 13, 2012 at 1:28 PM

I don’t understand how they don’t figure it out. The only thing I can think of is that they are so indoctrinated that life experiences mean nothing or they are beholden to the state for some reason.

melle1228 on April 13, 2012 at 1:34 PM

This is not surprising for a number of reasons:
1. MSM parrots liberal positions so conservatives are aware of them. When the media covers a conservative position, it often distorts the position.
2. Conservatives are far more open to debate. Look how many trolls we have at HA. Trolls do not exist at Kos or DU. It’s an echo chamber.
3 Liberals are usually angry. Look how often they try to disturb conservative events (from the 2008 GOP convention to speakers and candidats on the stump.
4 Liberal women in particular are very closed minded and angry. The fact that so many are butt-angry may justify their anger.

bw222 on April 13, 2012 at 1:34 PM

I want to take the liberty of reposting a comment to today’s Krauthammer column at NRO. It encapsulates the failures of Obama rather well.

RobL

The man (Obama) has squandered his opportunity for greatness…

He could have successfully passed tax reform which would have increased revenue, lowered debt, lowered taxes and robustly invigorated the economy. But he is so beholden to antiquated and false notions of wealth redistribution that he has jeopardized his presidency and the nation’s economic security to advance these failed causes.

Same in the international arena, so beholden to childish notions of a peaceful world bloodied, bullied and raped by greedy American imperialism he continues to this day to undermine allies and placate enemies. He truly thinks that if our enemies believe he is on their side, they will melt their rifle barrels into ploughshares and voluntarily become the vanguard of a new international peaceful order.

I repeat myself but it’s the same again with race relations. He truly could have transformed us into a post racial nation. Personally I already think we are except for liberal and democratic enablers who for fifty years pass programs which whether by design or accident have only perpetuated racial economic/social disparity thus allowing racial minorities to believe the falsehoods advanced by the professional profiteering race-baiting class. The president could have used his position as the first duly elected African American president to inspire all Americans to the glories of American cultural greatness and tolerance. He could have stumped around the world pronouncing the greatness of a non-racial America and how the American dream should be emulated by all. Instead he has instigated African American animus towards absent but perceived injustices which not only serve no productive national purpose (beyond cheap calculated extemporaneous political machinations), they alienate a previously unracial non-African American community now growing wary of being labeled despicable, racist and deserving of retribution. In short the president has successfully aggrieved two populations based not on truth but on a desire to advance his political aspirations leaving this nation more ripe for strife than since before he took office.

Yet unfortunately as Dr. Krauthammer alludes, this all matters not because the president excels at ‘clever politics’.

He’s a demagogue extraordinaire and at the moment has convinced a small majority that his rhetoric is the honest gospel truth. So despite the opportunities missed, the immense and accruing failures, and the disastrous course that has been set; he may very well get reelected. I cannot fathom the harm that would come economically, domestically and internationally if we follow this course for four more years.

God bless America but god help us if he is reelected. Have a good weekend you all.

onlineanalyst on April 13, 2012 at 1:35 PM

That’s why the liberal mobys give themselves away when they try to infiltrate conservative blogs. They just don’t understand conservativism enough to fake it. It’s like a Russian spy with a thick Russian accent–just not very convincing.

ghostwriter on April 13, 2012 at 1:35 PM

BUT, BUT, BUT EPISTEMIC CLOSURE!!1!1!

Valkyriepundit on April 13, 2012 at 1:36 PM

It is almost always shocking when the bubble you live in bursts…

d1carter on April 13, 2012 at 1:37 PM

As I explained many times to my daughter, true fiscal conservatism never materializes until one gets one’s first salary pay stub, mortgage payment slip, and doctor’s bill. Reading them does more to the come-to-light transformation than a stack of Constitution booklets.

Archivarix on April 13, 2012 at 1:37 PM

The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard
1 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay them a denarius[a] for the day and sent them into his vineyard.
3 “About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4 He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ 5 So they went.

“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. 6 About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’

7 “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.

“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’

8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’

9 “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’

13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’

Matthew 20:1-15. What’s fair is what you agreed to . . .

PastorJon on April 13, 2012 at 1:37 PM

Uh-huh, that’s not self-assurance at all…

MelonCollie on April 13, 2012 at 1:37 PM

Reminds me of the Star Trek episode “Mirror, Mirror” when Kirk and Friends concluded it was possible for civilized people to act uncivilized while it was impossible for uncivilized people to act civilized.

Scopper on April 13, 2012 at 1:39 PM

For all that liberals like to talk about conservative greed, it’s interesting that conservatives can content themselves with less money in exchange for other benefits whereas liberals seem blind to those benefits and just want the money.

I’ll take a quiet existence on a deserted island with enough creature comforts to keep me entertained and healthy any day over immense wealth and power.

NotCoach on April 13, 2012 at 1:39 PM

“If you’re not a liberal when you’re 25, you have no heart. If you’re not a conservative by the time you’re 35, you have no brain.” – attributed to Winston Churchill

Trafalgar on April 13, 2012 at 1:29 PM
—-

I’m more liberal now (47) then I was at 25. But then I’m using the classical term, not the one stolen by the ‘Progressives’.

We need a new ‘Barry’, one more like Goldwater…

hobbit on April 13, 2012 at 1:41 PM

I don’t understand how they don’t figure it out. The only thing I can think of is that they are so indoctrinated that life experiences mean nothing or they are beholden to the state for some reason.

melle1228 on April 13, 2012 at 1:34 PM

No clue…

I learned very early. Not easy when you are growing up and everyone around you is liberal as heck.

upinak on April 13, 2012 at 1:41 PM

If you are going to use Don Adams you should have used the “Cone of Silence”.

wildcat72 on April 13, 2012 at 1:26 PM

Here ya go

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWtPPWi6OMQ

Del Dolemonte on April 13, 2012 at 1:41 PM

They have a study “Guess which is Republican or Democrat.”

These are the questions though

Someone who has very extreme political opinions that few people share. Republican or Democrat?

Someone who encourages bipartisanship and cooperation between the two parties. Republican or democrat..

They are opinion pieces.. UGh!

melle1228 on April 13, 2012 at 1:41 PM

Matthew 20:1-16

College Prof on April 13, 2012 at 1:41 PM

A virus doesn’t need to understand it’s host in order to infect it.

lorien1973 on April 13, 2012 at 1:42 PM

They really have no idea…

Valkyriepundit on April 13, 2012 at 1:43 PM

I think it is also because of how conservatives and liberals come to their positions on issues. Conservatives are more apt to base a position on pros/cons in a reasoned way. With liberals it is all about “feelings” and vague ideas about what is “right.”

The difference being, a conservative can argue why they hold the position they do. Liberals can only ramble on about “fairness” with no substantive explanation why they hold the position they do. It is why when debating a liberal they tend to jump all over the place instead of staying on task.

Happy Nomad on April 13, 2012 at 1:43 PM


Adults better understand what it’s like to be a child than a child understands what it means to be an adult.

Most, if not all, conservatives were liberals in their youth…and then they grew up. Liberals simply found a way around the “growing up” process.

ceedude on April 13, 2012 at 1:30 PM

Nail meet hammer!

That frames it perfectly.

Galt2009 on April 13, 2012 at 1:44 PM

Many conservatives used to be liberals when they were younger.

Most liberals have always been liberal. It’s why they’re more likely to dehumanize and treat conservatives as evil.

BadgerHawk on April 13, 2012 at 1:24 PM

So true. It’s rare someone goes the other direction.

Bitter Clinger on April 13, 2012 at 1:30 PM

I am actually great friends with one who went the other way. He was raised as a conservative by a domineering pastor father and an indifferent mother.

To him, Kos is Fair and Balanced.

Del Dolemonte on April 13, 2012 at 1:44 PM

I am actually great friends with one who went the other way. He was raised as a conservative by a domineering pastor father and an indifferent mother.

To him, Kos is Fair and Balanced.

Del Dolemonte on April 13, 2012 at 1:44 PM

How old is he?

ghostwriter on April 13, 2012 at 1:45 PM

Here’s what I’m curious about. Remember a few weeks ago, there was a study that “conservative” was the default position on issues; the idea was to show that liberals have thought thru things and changed their opinion.

If this is the case, why do liberals not understand the conservative position? If they came to liberalism from conservatism, it makes no sense.

lorien1973 on April 13, 2012 at 1:45 PM

Liberals simply found a way around the “growing up” process.

ceedude on April 13, 2012 at 1:30 PM

It’s called “Academia”.

And “Government”.

Del Dolemonte on April 13, 2012 at 1:45 PM

Being a conservative who works hard and is careful with finances and personal & family responsibility readily observes the glaring difference of the lazy Liberal expecting entitlements from a bloated government as reward for doing nothing while cranking out Trayvons out and about up to no good… caring nothing about the consequences besides finding someone else to blame.

viking01 on April 13, 2012 at 1:45 PM

Contemporary “liberalism” can be simply summed up as a deadly witches brew of statism and nihilism.

Dr. Carlo Lombardi on April 13, 2012 at 1:46 PM

For all that liberals like to talk about conservative greed, it’s interesting that conservatives can content themselves with less money in exchange for other benefits whereas liberals seem blind to those benefits and just want the money.

You mean, like, “Obama-money”?

The people who pay no federal income taxes?

The record number of people on food stamps?

You know, core DIMocrats…

Khun Joe on April 13, 2012 at 1:47 PM

As a formerly brain-dead liberal I can attest to the validity of this thesis.

After 9/11 the disgust I felt for my Former Comrades and their hapless to outright despicable reactions to that horrible event made me start “thinking outside the liberal cocoon”.

After a lot of reading and soul searching, I left the fold.

Conservatism is an intellectual exercise. Liberalism is limbic system feeling reaction.

Glad I quit the Donks, wish the circumstances that kicked me in the ass would have been less awful.

Bruno Strozek on April 13, 2012 at 1:47 PM

Reminds me of the Star Trek episode “Mirror, Mirror” when Kirk and Friends concluded it was possible for civilized people to act uncivilized while it was impossible for uncivilized people to act civilized.

Scopper on April 13, 2012 at 1:39 PM

Exactly. Conservatives understand the difference between right and wrong because they have a framework for evaluation that exists outside their own desires and goals and they are capable of subordinating their own immediate self-interests to it.

Liberals cannot do this because the only “moral” or “principle” that liberals hold is that their own immediate self-gratification trumps all else.

Abortion is the classic example. Conservatives recognize that adhering to one’s principles about life requires accepting inconvenience, messiness, and pain. Liberals insist that nothing should intrude on their desires and cause them inconvenience, messiness, or pain; therefore, anything that does should be exterminated.

northdallasthirty on April 13, 2012 at 1:48 PM

When I’m discussing an issue on a liberal blog, they like to tell me what I think without giving me a chance to agree or disagree. Even if I do agree with them, they often tell me the “real” reason for my position.

aunursa on April 13, 2012 at 1:48 PM

Ronaldus Magnus said it this way:

How do you tell a communist? Well, it’s someone who reads Marx and Lenin.

And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It’s someone who understands Marx and Lenin.

Ronald Reagan

Galt2009 on April 13, 2012 at 1:48 PM

I would tend to agree with Biggs, that conservatives understand the liberal standpoint better because they live in a culture saturated with them. We all know the quote about “nobody I know voted for Nixon” and that’s a indicator. I see it all the time with liberal interviewers who are quite incapable of understanding that a conservative position doesn’t necessarily prove that they dislike women or have no empathy for the poor. And who’s on the top of this heap? Why it’s our president Barack Obama who proves every day that he thinks nobody could possibly disagree with him without being a bad, nasty person.

Fafhrd on April 13, 2012 at 1:49 PM

I am actually great friends with one who went the other way. He was raised as a conservative by a domineering pastor father and an indifferent mother.

To him, Kos is Fair and Balanced.

Del Dolemonte on April 13, 2012 at 1:44 PM

How old is he?

ghostwriter on April 13, 2012 at 1:45 PM

He just turned 60.

Del Dolemonte on April 13, 2012 at 1:49 PM

My theory is that it’s much easier for a civilized man to understand how barbarians live than the other way around.

Fenris on April 13, 2012 at 1:49 PM

At least on social issues, I find it pretty hard to understand why we should return to 6th century.

lester on April 13, 2012 at 1:50 PM

They really have no idea…

Valkyriepundit on April 13, 2012 at 1:43 PM

Wow. Even though I used to be a liberal I am still amazed at times by their inanity.

NotCoach on April 13, 2012 at 1:50 PM

At least on social issues, I find it pretty hard to understand why we should return to 6th century.

lester on April 13, 2012 at 1:50 PM

What is Christian Sharia?

NotCoach on April 13, 2012 at 1:51 PM

Liberals’ opinions are based on emotion, not on fact, unlike conservatives, ergo they cannot adequately outline a conservative position, nor can they defend their own position other than via emotion.

Vashta.Nerada on April 13, 2012 at 1:51 PM

You’re right, it just confirms what we already know. Remember the progressive shock over the oral arguments at SCOTUS on ObamaCare? They couldn’t imagine any possible legal objection to it. They truly think there are only two kinds of conservative: mean & greedy or dumber than dirt. They think a poor conservative votes against his own interests because he’s dumb and the better off conservatives take advantage of the “dumb” ones. If a conservative says they don’t like something, liberals hear them saying they want it banned, because that’s what liberals mean when they don’t like something.
On Biggs’ theory,if newsrooms were as hyper about philosophical diversity as they are about racial and gender diversity, news would be as objective as it could be.

cartooner on April 13, 2012 at 1:51 PM

The difference being, a conservative can argue why they hold the position they do. Liberals can only ramble on about “fairness” with no substantive explanation why they hold the position they do. It is why when debating a liberal they tend to jump all over the place instead of staying on task.

Happy Nomad on April 13, 2012 at 1:43 PM

Well, they have an explanation. It’s just that “I want it because I want it and I want it now, your needs and inconvenience be damned” is way too selfish and blatantly narcissistic to broadcast publicly.

Whenever a liberal starts blathering about “fairness”, just ask them point blank why they should have a license to steal from anyone who has more than they do. When that catches in their brain, identify something that they have more of than you do and tell them that they clearly stole it from you and should give it to you in the name of “fairness”.

Or my personal favorite — a rich lib who screams about “income inequality” should be asked why they think it’s “fair” that they make more than the janitor and why they haven’t demanded that their salary be “redistributed”.

northdallasthirty on April 13, 2012 at 1:51 PM

OT, but interesting.

Don Adams: “Missed it by that much”

What I just discovered about the guy who played Maxwell Smart: he was a Marine and was “assigned to the Third Marines in Samoa until Adams was sent as a replacement to the Battle of Guadalcanal, where he was the only survivor of his platoon.”

He was even a Marine drill instructor.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Adams

freedomfirst on April 13, 2012 at 1:52 PM

Too many words…I got about halfway through that and felt about the same way I do when someone tries to get me to watch soccer.

It boils to emotion vs. logic. They argue oblique definitions of fairness because they can’t debate with facts.

DanMan on April 13, 2012 at 1:52 PM

Here’s what I’m curious about. Remember a few weeks ago, there was a study that “conservative” was the default position on issues; the idea was to show that liberals have thought thru things and changed their opinion.

If this is the case, why do liberals not understand the conservative position? If they came to liberalism from conservatism, it makes no sense.

lorien1973 on April 13, 2012 at 1:45 PM

In part, it’s a function of the limitations of the word “conservative.” Being conservative means resistant or slow to change, or preserving institutions as they were handed down. On the hand, if the current institutions tend towards big government, conservatives are vehement advocates of change. Obamacare is a good case in point. Before it was passed, we preferred the status quo. Since Obamacare has passed and became the status quo, we want to overturn the status quo.

ghostwriter on April 13, 2012 at 1:53 PM

When your worldview and perspective on ideology and life is based on relativism and appeasement, it’s not surprising that liberals cannot fathom conservatism. It’s like being on the beach compared to being on the bluff. Sure, the beach is broad and wide while the bluff narrow and small, but when the storms of life come, the buildings on the beach cannot weather the storm nor could they have seen the storm in time to prepare, while we on the bluffs, well…

Logus on April 13, 2012 at 1:53 PM

2 Trolls do not exist at Kos or DU. It’s an echo chamber.

3 Liberals are usually angry. Look how often they try to disturb conservative events (from the 2008 GOP convention to speakers and candidats on the stump.

4 Liberal women in particular are very closed minded and angry. The fact that so many are butt-angry may justify their anger.

bw222 on April 13, 2012 at 1:34 PM

2. Add Democratic Underground to that list. At least they are upfront about it.

3. They also made a laughingstock out of the 1968 DNC COnvention in Chicago.

4. I think you meant “butt ugly”, didn’t you?

Liberal women were in the past very angry about their workplace superiors exploiting them, both sexually and non sexually, yet suddenly in 1998 gave a pass to a sitting President for engaging in adultery with a much younger female workplace subordinate, in the workplace.

Simply because that President favored abortion.

Del Dolemonte on April 13, 2012 at 1:54 PM

At least on social issues, I find it pretty hard to understand why we should return to 6th century.

lester on April 13, 2012 at 1:50 PM

getalife

Del Dolemonte on April 13, 2012 at 1:54 PM

What Haidt found is that conservatives understand liberals’ moral values better than liberals understand where conservatives are coming from. Worse yet, liberals don’t know what they don’t know; they don’t understand how limited their knowledge of conservative values is.

LMFAO!!

Next up – Water is Wet!!

This has to be the winner of the coveted “Duh Award” For the most predictable outcome of a University study.

Tim_CA on April 13, 2012 at 1:55 PM

At least on social issues, I find it pretty hard to understand why we should return to 6th century.

lester on April 13, 2012 at 1:50 PM

Why?

Do you need to be sexually promiscuous?

Do you need to father children and then dump them on the state with no sense of responsibility?

Do you need all social strictures or disapproval removed so that you can be free to have sex with whatever happens to attract you that night without social stigma?

Liberals like yourself always demand that conservatives demonstrate how something affects them personally in order to agitate against it. So which of these things that you’re against affects you and directly impacts your behavior?

northdallasthirty on April 13, 2012 at 1:55 PM

At least on social issues, I find it pretty hard to understand why we should return to 6th century.

lester on April 13, 2012 at 1:50 PM

What is it you think you know about the “6th century” that makes you think conservatives have a longing to go back there?

Bitter Clinger on April 13, 2012 at 1:55 PM

Most, if not all, conservatives were liberals in their youth…and then they grew up.
ceedude on April 13, 2012 at 1:30 PM

I have to disagree with that. I’ve been quite conservative for as long as I can remember – as most high school kids probably are who choose to go military academies. I’ve gotten a bit more libertarian over the years in some respects – but far more fiscally conservative, but then I used to hang out with people who were fairly liberal sorts of party animals (smoked pot and such), even though I’ve never touched it.

dentarthurdent on April 13, 2012 at 1:56 PM

10. Democrats vote Democrat because they believe oil companies’ profits of 4% on a gallon of gas are obscene but the government taxing the same gallon of gas at 15% isn’t.

9. Democrats vote Democrat because they believe the government will do a better job of spending the money we earn than we would.

8. Democrats vote Democrat because Freedom of speech is fine as long as nobody is offended by it.

7. Democrats vote Democrat because we’re way too irresponsible to own a guns, and they know that the local police are all we need to protect us from murderers and thieves.

6. Democrats vote Democrat because they believe that people who can’t tell us if it will rain on Friday can tell us that the polar ice caps will melt away in ten years if we don’t start driving a Prius.

5. Democrats vote Democrat because they’re not concerned about the slaughter of millions of babies through abortion so long as we keep all death row inmates alive.

4. Democrats vote Democrat because they think illegal aliens have a right to free health care, education, and Social Security benefits.

3. Democrats vote Democrat because they believe that business should not be allowed to make profits for themselves. They need to break even and give the rest away to the government for redistribution as the Democrats see fit.

2. Democrats vote Democrat because they believe liberal judges need to rewrite the Constitution every few days to suit some fringe kooks who would never get their agendas past the voters.

1. Democrats vote Democrat because they’re heads are so firmly planted up their ass it’s unlikely that they’ll ever have another point of view.

monster_man on April 13, 2012 at 1:57 PM

At least on social issues, I find it pretty hard to understand why we should return to 6th century.

lester on April 13, 2012 at 1:50 PM

Congrats – lester is the first lib to prove the point of this article.

dentarthurdent on April 13, 2012 at 1:57 PM

At least on social issues, I find it pretty hard to understand why we should return to 6th century.

lester on April 13, 2012 at 1:50 PM

What exactly do you know about the sixth century, genius?

ghostwriter on April 13, 2012 at 1:58 PM

For me the one idea that fundamentally separates Liberals from Conservatives is the basic argument on the part of Liberals that “Freedom doesn’t work!”, as opposed to the Conservative notion that “Freedom is Built In”.
Like the old aristocracy of Europe, they can’t even begin to conceive of the peasantry running their own lives and communities, without becoming victims of either their own ineptitude or some economic predator or other. And without question, they do think of themselves as the “enlightened” aristocracy. Only now, instead of bloodline, membership in this new gentry is determined by credentials from the “right” schools.
But the real miss on the part of Liberals is the idea that they think Freedom is something that has to “work” in some utilitarian or pragmatic sense. To a Conservative, freedom is a component part of being human, inseparable and indivisible. And in the extreme, something we’ll fight and die for.

Lew on April 13, 2012 at 1:58 PM

When Republicans lose an election, they look internally to see what they did that caused them to lose the trust of the voters.

When Democrats lose an election, they

(1) blame the voters for being stupid
(2) blame the media for (from their POV) treating both sides the same
(3) blame their opponents for lying
(4) blame their opponents for stealing the election
(5) blame their opponents for suppressing the vote

aunursa on April 13, 2012 at 1:59 PM

This has to be the winner of the coveted “Duh Award” For the most predictable outcome of a University study.

Tim_CA on April 13, 2012 at 1:55 PM

Since it was a university study, I’d bet THEY didn’t expect this outcome.

dentarthurdent on April 13, 2012 at 1:59 PM

onlineanalyst on April 13, 2012 at 1:35 PM

not too many words…that poster nailed it didn’t he?

DanMan on April 13, 2012 at 1:59 PM

IOW:

A genius knows what an idiot thinks.

But, an idiot can’t know what a genius thinks.

faraway on April 13, 2012 at 1:59 PM

Liberals are under the dome of silence.

Akzed on April 13, 2012 at 2:01 PM

What exactly do you know about the sixth century, genius?

ghostwriter on April 13, 2012 at 1:58 PM

Did you ever think that Lester thinks we (conservatives) are like those of whom are in the middle east and want to be back in the state of mud huts and candle light and fires?

Isn’t it nice that he did a fly by on religion and never thought about it?

upinak on April 13, 2012 at 2:01 PM

monster_man on April 13, 2012 at 1:57 PM

Very nice summary.

dentarthurdent on April 13, 2012 at 2:01 PM

Since it was a university study, I’d bet THEY didn’t expect this outcome.

dentarthurdent on April 13, 2012 at 1:59 PM

lol…..good point!

Tim_CA on April 13, 2012 at 2:02 PM

In part, it’s a function of the limitations of the word “conservative.” Being conservative means resistant or slow to change, or preserving institutions as they were handed down. On the hand, if the current institutions tend towards big government, conservatives are vehement advocates of change. Obamacare is a good case in point. Before it was passed, we preferred the status quo. Since Obamacare has passed and became the status quo, we want to overturn the status quo.

ghostwriter on April 13, 2012 at 1:53 PM

Actually, that’s accepting the liberal viewpoint.

Being “resistant” or “slow” to change is perjorative and indicates acceptance of two things:

1) Change is the right thing to do
2) You don’t want to do the right thing

Conservativism is rooted in the idea that the billions of people who have gone before us weren’t all blithering idiots. They may not have had the same access to information and perspectives that we do now, but the fact that we are here demonstrates that they knew quite a bit about how to survive, thrive, and grow.

Liberals want to change things while ignoring previous history and past precedent and without any idea of how it’s going to turn out. That is blind, stupid foolishness.

So the better response is that conservatives are responsible, fact-based, and supportive of change based on need and intelligent planning; liberals believe in unnecessary, pointless, and destructive change, and are utterly uncaring and unprepared for any consequences.

northdallasthirty on April 13, 2012 at 2:02 PM

Without bothering to read the comments I imagine a liberal will believe this is because liberal arguments “make sense” and conservative arguments “don’t make sense”.

The reality is that they don’t bother to actually ever listen to or read conservative arguments, because their brains shut down, because the “know” that conservatives are evil, dumb, greedy, sexist, racist, homophobic, or whatever other name they want to use and therefore the arguments don’t matter.

With liberals, it is all about intentions. If you believe someone “intends” well – then they must be right. They don’t care about anything else, such as facts and results.

Monkeytoe on April 13, 2012 at 2:04 PM

I’d also make the point (as an heir to only much-valued intangibles) that while those who inherit wealth did not work for it, their parents (etc.) did, and their parents’ choice regarding the fruits of their labor was to bequeath it to their descendents.

marlin77 on April 13, 2012 at 2:08 PM

With liberals, it is all about intentions. If you believe someone “intends” well – then they must be right. They don’t care about anything else, such as facts and results.

Monkeytoe on April 13, 2012 at 2:04 PM

Total bingo.

Look at the blathering Obama and the Obama Party, who continue to insist that their vaporizing trillions of dollars with nothing to show for it is fine because they had good intentions.

This is why the Barack Obama Party and Barack Obama have as their utmost goals removing any consequence for stupid behavior. They are like children who demand that the grade curve be adjusted because they are too lazy to study.

northdallasthirty on April 13, 2012 at 2:08 PM

With liberals, it is all about intentions. If you believe someone “intends” well – then they must be right. They don’t care about anything else, such as facts and results.

Monkeytoe on April 13, 2012 at 2:04 PM

Yeppers evil conservatives always have nefarious motives. That is why one of my favorite quotes is this:

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” – Copy to Clipboard
— C.S. Lewis

melle1228 on April 13, 2012 at 2:09 PM

Adults better understand what it’s like to be a child than a child understands what it means to be an adult.

Most, if not all, conservatives were liberals in their youth…and then they grew up. Liberals simply found a way around the “growing up” process.

ceedude on April 13, 2012 at 1:30 PM

Wow, that’s a really great way of putting it. Hard for liberals to get over the “Hey, that kid has a toy I don’t have. NO FAIR! I’M TELLING!” mentality. Whereas adults can reason beyond that point and say “Hmmm, I really like Joe’s new car. I wonder what I can change about my situation so that I can get one too….”

(I was a liberal through the middle of college, but never hard-core. Looking back, my American History / Economics teacher in high school was a BIG liberal propagandist, but I didn’t know any better at the time)

Violina23 on April 13, 2012 at 2:10 PM

Liberals are about feelings. They can’t handle conflict, and don’t like to face reality (like budgets and hard choices).

It’s not much more complicated than that.

faraway on April 13, 2012 at 2:11 PM

At The American, AEI resident scholar Andrew Biggs highlights an interesting study

Can we get a link please?

Scrappy on April 13, 2012 at 2:11 PM

[snip...]
With liberals, it is all about intentions. If you believe someone “intends” well – then they must be right. They don’t care about anything else, such as facts and results.

Monkeytoe on April 13, 2012 at 2:04 PM

that doesn’t completely explain it, because a consevative can say they intend well, but are not believed. I think it may be that there are only a few steps involved to just confiscate money and give it to poor people. This is easy to understand. Actually sustaining a civilized society is hard.

Fenris on April 13, 2012 at 2:12 PM

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