Why do people vote Conservative?
From The Learning Spy: Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion proposes that there are six distinct foundations, or continuums, that act like ‘taste receptors’ on the moral tongue. They are:
- Care/harm: cherishing and protecting others.
- Fairness/cheating: rendering justice according to shared rules.
- Liberty/oppression: the loathing of tyranny.
- Loyalty/betrayal: standing with your group, family, nation.
- Authority/subversion: obeying tradition and legitimate authority.
- Sanctity/degradation: abhorrence for disgusting things, foods, actions.
He explains that those of us on the left tend to value the care/harm foundation most highly. We’re also moved by the liberty/oppression foundation and, in an incomplete way, the fairness/cheating foundation. We see it as morally right to care for others, protect the vulnerable from injustice and oppression, and to divide resources equitably. And, at least in terms of morality, that’s pretty much all we care about.
Those on the right meanwhile care about all six foundations. They see family values as a moral issue in the way those on left tend not to comprehend. Although they care about the care/harm foundation, they care mainly about protecting the groups to which they belong whereas liberals are more likely to care not just about people from different groups, but will also see animal welfare and the environment as moral issues. Of course some voters will have voted Conservative for venal, self-interested motives but not all. Working-class voters who decided in favour of the Tories are not stupid or selfish; they just care about different things. They get upset by ‘scroungers’ soaking up benefits and immigrants taking their jobs. They feel angry at what they see as wasteful public services supporting the idle, the feckless and the undeserving. They care about ‘our brave boys’ fighting foreign wars and they care – at least to some extent – about God’s views on marriage, homosexuality and abortion.