A colleague of mine forwarded me this article in the New York Times, which compared the presidential candidates’ usages of various terms. Some words require more context, but what struck him (and me, after I saw it) in this graph is the fact that Ron Paul doesn’t use the words America or American very much, even as he talks a lot about war (usually in negative terms), the constitution, and liberty.
A simple possible convergent explanation comes from this graph of questions concerning how much how much a person identifies (e.g. feel’s close to, has things in common with, uses the word “we”) with people in their community, in their country, and around the world. Ron Paul and libertarians like him, may think of themselves as individuals, moreseo than the typical liberal or conservative, and less as members of a community, a country, or the world.
From a psychological perspective, this is a further illustration of the idea that moral reasoning is intimately inter-twined with social functioning in that people tend to have a moral profile that correlates well with the types of social functioning they desire.
I would argue that a healthy society needs all types of social concerns. Cohesive working units such as armies, companies, and to a lesser extent countries, are necessary for efficiently performing tasks and competing with/defending against other groups. At the same time, it would seem callous to be an extraordinarily efficient society that doesn’t care about the plight of others who are not in our group. Finally, any society needs people who are less constrained by group concerns who can push society forward. We should be thankful for the diverse ideological perspectives in our country and rather than seeing politics as war, we could see it as an exercise in finding balance between worthy concerns.
- Ravi Iyer