What do we have in common that unites us? Why do we support polices that others vehemently oppose and why do we strongly oppose their policies?
What binds us, and what binds our opponents, is our sense of what is morally right as expressed by our moral values. And what research since the 90s has shown is that there are two distinct and opposed views of what is morally right and two sets of moral values? We are all some combination of those two sets.
Our sense of what is morally right and our moral values were learned as the youngest members of our families. Different families and other life situations taught us our different values. For some, our values changed over time.
For most of US: “We came together because of our moral values: care and responsibility, fairness and equality, freedom and courage, fulfillment in life, opportunity and community, cooperation and trust, honesty and openness. We united behind political principles: equality, equity (if you work for a living, you should earn a living) and government for the people–all the people.” — Professor George Lakoff, cognitive linguist.
Let’s explore our moral value of equality and its opposite from our opponent's moral values.
Equality in our families
Equality is reflected and promoted in our families by accepting that both parents, of any sex, share in raising our children. Our families teach our children compassion for others as our equals. Our families nurture our innate empathy and promote responsibility for ourselves and others as our equals. Our empathy and compassion helps us understand that equal protection and empowerment of our family and others is morally right. Our families understand that there are many factors that impact family members and that some of those factors are beyond our control. We understand we need others, including government, to help minimize those impacts in order to maximize equality.
Inequality in other families
Our opponents moral value of inequality is based on a strong belief in a social hierarchy, or social Darwinism. Both the left and right see God above all. However, our opponents extend this hierarchy to put white, wealthy, heterosexual, monogamous, Christian, men next in line to God. Then everyone/everything is ranked below that depending on various human and non-human characteristics. For example, a non-white, poor, non-heterosexual, unmarried, woman with a child ranks very low in their hierarchy. Historically, their ranking has even placed the value of some animals, like horses, above some humans.
The families of our opponents typically have an authoritarian male dictating to other family members their place, and the place of others, in the hierarchy. Only those like him are his equal. This authoritarian male defines what is morally right and severely punishes family members who resist. Other family members have no rights except those he grants. The authoritarian leader teaches his children that having empathy weakens their ranking in this hierarchy. The authoritarian leader teaches his children that they are only responsible for their own success in life. If they are unsuccessful, it’s ALL their fault. The authoritarian leader teaches that some, like himself, are more equal than others by virtue of the purity of their genes. There is no need for compassion or empathy for those lower in the hierarchy - less pure.
Government reflects our moral values
Moral values are learned from our families and life experiences. They are eventually reflected in our governmental leadership and the policies governments enforce.
Here are two definitions of government that amplify the difference between our moral value of equality of opportunity for all and those of our authoritarian opponents - equality only for the self-made man.
A Government of, by, and for the people requires both:
(1) Government representatives with the moral commitment to equally protect and empower all the people where:
(a) people’s individual freedoms are maximized, and
(b) economic, social, racial, and environmental injustices against we the people are minimized, combined with
(2) Active participation (voting and political participation) of a majority of the people to maintain such a people-driven government.
Government for inequality:
A Government of, by, and for the successful, white, Christian, male requires both:
(1) A government with the purpose to protect and empower only the successful such that their individual freedom and wealth are maximized, and
(2) The active participation of only the successful and their minority of supporters, with the use of voter suppression and election fraud, to maintain such a government.
Government policies reflect our moral values
Our moral differences on maximizing equality and our opponents' on maximizing inequality are also reflected in our different governmental budgetary policies.
Our opponents create federal budgets that maximize the wealth of successful white, males through tax breaks for the billionaires and government contracts for those who build, or fuel, our WMDs.
By contrast, our federal budgets maximize equality by providing jobs during severe economic downturns, by empowering our mobility with freeways and public roads, by advancing science and creating tools that empower us like the internet or protect us like weather satellites, by creating high tech green jobs to protect our air, water and land, by providing healthcare to protect us from bankruptcy and the threat of early death, by providing high quality public education to empower us without the enslaving debt, etc.
Know your moral values
Our sense of what is morally right determines our moral values which in turn drives our support for policies and laws that represent them. When you talk policy, include your moral justification to help other understand why that policy it right.
First The Less Equal Must Demand Justice