George Lakoff on the Conservative Moral Hierarchy

Retired UC Berkeley professor George Lakoff answers Two Questions About Trump and Republicans that Stump Progressives, a piece that has gotten some circulation the past couple weeks.

The questions are:

1) Why don’t Trump supporters turn against Trump even though he is doing things that hurt them? (like taking away their healthcare)

2) Why do Republicans hate the Affordable Care Act, and why are they so transparently acting to give wealthy people a tax break by making healthcare unaffordable?

Here is the short answer: All politics is moral.

Because Trump supporters feel he is on their side, even if they personally might be disadvantaged.

Lakoff’s piece is long, and goes into brain science, and it ends with a crisp summary of what he calls “The Conservative Moral Hierarchy”:

    • God above Man
    • Man above Nature
    • The Disciplined (Strong) above the Undisciplined (Weak)
    • The Rich above the Poor
    • Employers above Employees
    • Adults above Children
    • Western culture above other cultures
    • America above other countries
    • Men above Women
    • Whites above Nonwhites
    • Christians above non-Christians
    • Straights above Gays

His analysis aligns with Jonathan Haidt’s more abstract analysis of how moral values depends on six moral “foundations” (see my discussion here), but Lakoff identifies the implications of one range of these foundations into how it plays out in contemporary American politics.

(And, let’s see, how many items in that hierarchy could I argue with or do not believe in? Maybe all but one.)

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