Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Political polarization and prejudice.

Yesterday's post dealt with softening prejudicial attitudes towards transgender people. This is relevant to prejudice rising from the right versus left political polarization that continues to increase in this county. From a recent NYTimes OpEd piece by Arthur Brooks:
Thirty-eight percent of Democrats have a “very unfavorable” view of Republicans, and 43 percent of Republicans hold that view of Democrats. About half of “consistently liberal” Americans say most of their friends share their views, and about a third say it’s important to live in a place where that is so. For those who are “consistently conservative,” these preferences are even more pronounced.
...the average American is becoming more ideologically predictable. A Pew Research Center study from 2014 shows that the share of Americans with “consistently conservative” or “consistently liberal” views has more than doubled in the last two decades to 21 percent from 10 percent...In 1994, nearly 40 percent of Republicans were more liberal than the median Democrat, and 30 percent of Democrats were more conservative than the median Republican. Today, those numbers have plummeted to 8 percent and 6 percent.
This polarization has led to political discrimination that studies have shown to be stronger than racial discrimination
...Bigotry’s cousin is contempt...Watch and listen to politically polarized commentary today, and you will see that it is more contemptuous than angry, overflowing with sneering, mockery and disgust.
So what’s the antidote? I asked the Dalai Lama, one of the world’s experts on bringing people together. He made two points. First, the solution starts not with institutions, but with individuals. We look too much to political parties or Congress to make progress, but not nearly enough at our own behavior...You can’t single-handedly change the country, but you can change yourself. By declaring your independence from the bitterness washing over our nation, you can strike a small blow for greater national unity.
Second, each of us must aspire to what the Dalai Lama calls “warmheartedness” toward those with whom we disagree. This might sound squishy, but it is actually tough and practical advice. As he has stated, “I defeat my enemies when I make them my friends.” He is not advocating surrender to the views of those with whom we disagree. Liberals should be liberals and conservatives should be conservatives. But our duty is to be respectful, fair and friendly to all, even those with whom we have great differences.
Yesterday's post on changing prejudice suggests a further technique for reconciliation: active or analogic perspective taking. This is essentially imagining a situation in which you felt contempt from others, and also putting yourself in the shoes of others, imagining their concerns, etc.

No comments:

Post a Comment