What makes people vote Republican? Why in particular do working class and rural Americans usually vote for pro-business Republicans when their economic interests would seem better served by Democratic policies? We psychologists have been examining the origins of ideology ever since Hitler sent us Germany's best psychologists, and we long ago reported that strict parenting and a variety of personal insecurities work together to turn people against liberalism, diversity, and progress. But now that we can map the brains, genes, and unconscious attitudes of conservatives, we have refined our diagnosis: conservatism is a partially heritable personality trait that predisposes some people to be cognitively inflexible, fond of hierarchy, and inordinately afraid of uncertainty, change, and death. People vote Republican because Republicans offer "moral clarity"—a simple vision of good and evil that activates deep seated fears in much of the electorate. Democrats, in contrast, appeal to reason with their long-winded explorations of policy options for a complex world.
So basically, people vote Republican because they're genetically predisposed to like dictatorial leadership styles. Got it.
If you read the whole thing (which honestly isn't worth it), you can see Haidt bending over backwards to pay lip service to objectivity. But the article is dripping with innuendo and condescension of conservatives.
Having actually voted for Republicans at various times in the past, I can tell you why I did it, and it wasn't because I have an inherited love of authoritarianism. The Republican party has substantial overlap with Libertarians when it comes to certain issues, namely taxes, spending, and certain rights issues, such as gun control. This is why Ron Paul is in the Republican party. Not all Republicans actually follow the precepts of smaller government, more local control, and lower taxes, but that's the platform. Is a working class voter a reflexive idiot for thinking such policies might actually benefit him/her more than Democratic economic policy?
Yet when it comes to issues like freedom of religion, reproductive education and rights, tolerance for alternative lifestyles, and so on, the Republicans are more intrusive and less libertarian than the Democrats. That's why I can't just saddle up with either side. There's too much I don't like about both parties.
But back to Haidt...his approach is lame and insulting. One could just as easily write an article which drips with the same condescension for Democrats. E.g.:
Why do people vote for tax-and-spend Democrats when fiscally conservative, pro-business policies would seem to better serve their interests? Psychological studies show that Democratic supporters show a greater affinity for the soft, permissive parenting of their mothers, rather than the strength of their fathers. In a world full of insecurity in the face of rogue nations and distributed terrorist threats, why would anyone choose soft and nurturing over powerful and determined, unless they held a genetic predisposition for the desire to be cuddled and coddled.
Gosh, do you think Democrats would be as insulted by such a passage as Republicans would be by Haidt's? Hmmm?