Post-election reflection: Why a large, diverse, secular democracy is challenging for Homo sapiens

Post-election reflection: Why a large, diverse, secular democracy is challenging for Homo sapiens


– Thank you very much. So we are very fortunate to have as our lunchtime keynote speaker
Professor Jonathan Haidt. He’s hiding behind me at the moment. He will make a dramatic appearance. He is the Thomas Cooley
Professor of Ethical Leadership at NYU’s Stern Business School, and an incredibly wide-ranging
social psychologist whose work explores the
intuitive or emotional foundations of rationality. And extends this work into many domains, including the domains of politics and how to understand
our political situation and our political polarization. Jonathan and I have spoken before about the rise of political polarization from the perspective of
each of our disciplines at a conference four years ago, and for our purposes today, his most directly relevant
work is his New York Times Best-Selling book called
The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided
by Politics and Religion. But before turning the
floor over to Jonathan to talk about those
ideas, I wanted to mention that he’s also been an
incredibly important figure, indeed, I would say a courageous figure, in trying to push back against
some of the worst trends taking place in universities today concerning the effort to ensure that discussion in
universities remains robust, wide-ranging, open, honest,
and the like, pluralistic, and that’s a very important
part of Jonathan’s contribution. So without further ado, I will turn the floor over to Jonathan. He’ll speak for 35 or 40 minutes. We’ll have a time to ask questions. We’ll try to end around 2:00 or so because the students
have classes to get to. So with no further ado, I give
you Professor Jonathan Haidt. (audience applauding) – All right, well thank you so much, Rick. Yes, it was about four years ago. Rick had written this amazing,
really detailed law review on political polarization, and
it was a wonderful article. I loved it, except that I thought
it was way too pessimistic and forecast a future of
ever-rising polarization. All right, here we are four years later. Rick was prophetic. What are we gonna do about it? So let’s talk about that. This morning, I just
was at the last session, and I know you’re talking
about a lot of issues, gerrymandering, primaries, clearly a lot of reform is needed. What I’d like to do
today with our time here is coming in from the outside, I’m not a lawyer. I’m not that familiar with
the laws governing us, but I think what I’ll try to do is just give you a sense
of the social psychology that makes this all possible, that makes this all difficult,
the social psychology that any reforms have to take account of. Reforms often backfire
because they’re made by people who are thinking about
a couple of parameters, and they don’t know that there’s
17 other factors or forces that real people do that
economists or law professors don’t necessarily recognize. So let’s talk about it. The reason why I’m gonna
start with a few slides of the universe, is let’s take not just the 10,000-foot view, but
the 10,000 light-year view. Let’s look at a few beautiful photos of outer space, of the universe. Let’s get really, really far
up, up away from our problems. Awe and beauty actually opens our minds, and it makes us more creative. So let’s try to get out of
the weeds of this problem. Let’s think really big here. Now, I’m starting this way,
not just to make us more open, but also to suggest a metaphor for thinking about what
we’re trying to do, and it goes like this. This is a model of the
universe across time, showing the current
thinking about the Big Bang, and as you see, at the
beginning, there’s the Big Bang, but then there’s a period
called the Dark Ages, in which there’s no matter. There’s just energy, and then all of a sudden, the
energy congeals into matter, and we’re off to the races. We’ve got a universe, and
then eventually, we get us. And some physicists have observed, beginning earlier in the last century, but Stephen Hawking puts it this way, that there are about 20, 25 physical constants in our universe. These are things you
learned in physics class, like you know, the mass of an electron, the gravitational force,
Avogadro’s number, whatever. All these physical
constants in our universe. Now, there could be an infinite
number of other universes that have different settings,
but in our universe, wherever you go, these are the settings. And what Hawking and other
physicists have noted is that the values of these
numbers are such that, if for a few of them, if
they were higher or lower, by one or two percent, matter
would not have congealed, there would be no universe,
we would not be here. And so the remarkable
fact is that the values of these numbers seem to have
been very finely adjusted to make possible the development of life. Wow! And if you look at the universe that way, then you might be tempted to say, “Well, who set the values? “Who did the fine adjustments?” And the logical choice is God. God created the universe. He set up these constants, and then the universe flows on from there, and God doesn’t have to touch it. So that’s at least one
plausible explanation for why we’re here. Now, I’m not starting this talk off with an argument for creationism. What I’m doing is I’m
giving you a metaphor for a way of thinking about the universe which is actually the metaphor that the Founding Fathers had. What I’d like you to do is think about the task of creating a liberal democracy. Can it be done? It’s hard, but clearly it was done. What I’d like to suggest
is that, by analogy, that you think about the
fine-tuned liberal democracy. So here’s a fact, at least
I believe it’s a fact. E.O. Wilson, many of us who
study evolution think this way. Human beings are tribal
primates evolved for life in small fission/fusion societies, with intense animistic religion and violent intergroup conflict. This is our default state. This is the way humans
lived for a very long time, all over the world. There’s variations. On small islands, there’s not much war. But by and large, this is sort of the default
state of human evolution. And what I would like to suggest, and I think Wilson would join me in this, what I would like to
suggest is that our species is unsuited for life in large,
diverse, secular societies. I don’t think we’re made for it. I think we need to be
bound together by religion, by all sorts of things. We need to be bound together. But clearly, we’ve done
it, so it must be possible. So what I’d like to suggest to you is that we are unsuited for life in large, diverse,
secular societies, unless, unless you get certain
settings finely adjusted to make possible the development
of stable political life. So clearly, it’s possible
for us to live this way, but what I’d like to suggest is that the margin for
error may be very small. The Founding Fathers knew this. They were Deists, or
many of them were Deists, and they thought about the
universe as like, a giant clock, and I think, I’m not an historian, but I think they thought
about the Constitution they were creating as
a kind of a giant clock that would need maintenance and updating, but if we get it right, it might
run a very, very long time. They were very aware of human psychology. They were great psychologists. As Madison wrote, now here he’s speaking
of direct democracy. “A common passion or interest will be felt “by a majority of the whole, “and there is nothing
to check the inducements “to sacrifice the weaker party
or an obnoxious individual. “Hence, it is that such
democracies have ever been “spectacles of turbulence and contention, “and have in general, been
as short in their lives “as they have been
violent in their deaths.” And their goal was to
create a liberal democracy that would live a very long time, that would not go the way of the short-lived previous
democracies in history. So we might think of it like this. They thought of themselves
as trying to create this new thing that might
last a very, very long time. And I want to ask you. And so the Constitution is, you know, is the thing that they created. And I want to ask you, how’s it going? (audience laughing) What do you think of their creation? If I was asking this
question 10 years ago, we would’ve, generally, most of us, had much more positive responses. In the last few years, it’s beginning to look like
things are malfunctioning, and it’s not just here. Something’s going haywire, not just here, but in many countries. It’s as though, it’s as
though, imagine that somebody reached into the physical universe, and they changed Avogadro’s number. They doubled it, or they
took the mass of an electron, and they cut it by 90%. You know, like, what would happen? Like, total chaos, like, things would fly apart, they’d explode. The whole universe would
just change instantly. What if someone did that
to our social parameters? What would happen? Who could do that to
our social parameters? Who on this Earth has the power to reach into the very nature of human social interconnectedness and multiply constants by a hundred? Only one person, I think, and I’m not saying he did it deliberately. (audience laughing) But the effect of inventing
the internet first, and then social media, is
equivalent, I would argue, to taking the mass of the
electron or the proton and multiplying it by some number. What could go wrong?
(audience laughing) Now, as I said, obviously
our electoral system is behaving in strange
and unanticipated ways. Obviously, around the time
of Trump, there was Brexit. It’s happening all over Europe. This year alone we had populist movements taking control in Italy. France obviously came close to it. So this is not just an American problem, but as you’ve heard in
the previous panels, there are features of the American system that might make it uniquely vulnerable. And interestingly, it’s
not just a Western problem. It’s mostly the West, but
there are populist movements in many other parts of the world as well. And so we have this spate of new books by political scientists
asking how democracy has died. This is not a question many of us were asking seriously 10 years ago. So what I’d like to do
in the rest of my time, so that’s the introduction. I’d like you to think about the fine-tuned liberal democracy. Don’t take it for granted. Assume that it is fragile. Assume that it can fail. Assume that it’s possible, if
we get the parameters right, and now let’s think,
what are the parameters? As you think about how do
we change gerrymandering, parties, the states, whatever
it is you’re thinking about, think about it in this
systemic sort of way, where it can be done, but you might have not a
lot of margin for error. All right, now let’s talk
about the psychology. So my first, my second book, my first book was The
Happiness Hypothesis, this book, The Righteous
Mind, which Rick mentioned, was the effort to describe my own work and then apply it to politics. So here’s the cover of
the edition in the US, the hardcover, conveys
the idea that America, our systems are torn, divided. In the UK, they have a
different art department. They came up with this cover,
(audience laughing) which I rather like. And then for the US paperback, I suggested the sort of
angel/devil demonization, which is a big part of the book. So what’s the book about? The book has three parts. There are three principles
of moral psychology, at least in my version of it. And so I’ll go through these and apply them to the questions for today. If you understand these three principles of moral psychology, then
I think you can basically understand a lot about any sort of human organization, group, or interaction. So the first, intuitions come first. So many societies, the wise
people in almost every society that I’ve been able to read about had the idea or noticed
that the psyche is divided. The human mind is divided into parts that sometimes conflict. Plato gave us the metaphor
that the mind is like a charioteer driving a chariot, and reason is the charioteer. The force is given by the two horses, the noble and the base passions, but reason should be in control
in a properly-educated man, basically, is they way
that they described it. Now, as a psychologist in
graduate school, I realized, or I came to the view that Plato was wrong in his psychology and
that David Hume was right. When David Hume wrote, “Reason
is and ought only to be “the slave of the passions, “and can never pretend to any other office “than to serve and obey them.” This I believe is a true statement. It’s a descriptive
statement of human nature. But instead of thinking of
reason as a slave or a servant, I think a much better
metaphor is a press secretary. (audience laughing)
Reason is the press secretary of the emotions. Because the press secretary is very smart. He or she is a partner of the president. She doesn’t just take orders. Her job is to explain
what the president did, but they are partners in a way. Now, what’s the nature of the partnership? Well, it was kind of indirectly or inadvertently given
away by Peter Navarro, who has one of the best
psychological quotes about politics I’ve ever seen. So as you may know, well okay, again, speaking beyond my expertise
here, but as far as I can tell, it’s very hard to find an economist who’s in favor of tariffs
and trade barriers. It’s very hard to find one. And so Trump did find one. So Peter Navarro says, “This
is the president’s vision.” He’s describing the
tariffs and trade wars. “My function really, as an economist, “is to try to provide
the underlying analytics “that confirm his intuition.
(audience laughing) “And his intuition is always
right in these matters.” So this I believe is
how reasoning evolved, and in my book, I go into that. We’re very good at reasoning,
not to find the truth, but to persuade others that we are right, or to persuade others to support us. Very briefly, the evidence for this. The most basic way I can describe it is from Tom Gilovich at Cornell. Whenever we want to
believe some proposition X, we don’t ask, “Is X true?” We ask, “Can I believe it?” “Do I have permission to believe it?” And if I can find a
single piece of evidence to support proposition X,
I’m done, I stop thinking. If someone asks me to explain myself, I can point to this one piece
of evidence, and I’m done. Whereas, if you come to proposition X not wanting to believe it,
you ask, “Must I believe it? “Am I compelled to believe it?” And if I can find a single escape hatch, a single reason to doubt
proposition X, I’m done, I stop. So in one classic study
demonstrating this effect, students in a psychology class come into the lab afterwards to do experiments as part of their
requirement for the course, and they’re given an article that looks like it was from
the Journal of Science, and they’re told to evaluate the methods. You’re learning experimental methods. How good are the methods in this study? And the study shows that caffeine
consumption is associated, correlated with breast cancer, so you look at the study,
and you evaluate it. Who do you think finds a lot
of problems with that study? – [Audience Member] Coffee drinkers. – Coffee drinkers, right.
(audience laughing) All coffee drinkers? – [Audience Member] No. – Who? – [Audience Member] The ones
who drink a lot of coffee. – No, women who drink coffee. Women who drink coffee
are threatened by it. They say, “Must I believe it?” They look really hard for
flaws, and they find them. Here’s another study. You come into the lab, you’re
sat at a computer screen, stuff flashes up. Every time you see a letter, if you touch the button
within half a second, you get a nickel for example. And so you’re sitting there,
then that, whoops, I’m sorry. And then that flashes up, what was that? So if you’re being paid to
see letters, that was a B. Half the people are paid
to spot numbers, it’s a 13. Nobody sees a Q. Nobody sees a Volkswagen. It’s either a B or a 13, and
we see what we want to see. Now think about a controversial
moral or political issue that we’re debating in this country where there’s no ambiguity. Well, I’m sorry, I’m sure you
can because it seems to you as though whatever issue you’re
on, there is no ambiguity, but believe me, there’s always ambiguity. And so people see what they want to see within some amount of reason, and they can always find evidence to support the view
that they want to hold. Now, this I believe, this first principle, intuitions come first,
strategic reasoning second, has a lot of applications
to our task today. As passions rise on both sides, the more we hate the other side, the more desperately we want to believe bad things about them
and good things about us. This is one of the major reasons we have post-truth politics. It’s not just the technology, it’s us. It’s our passion and anger. Social media amplifies this hatred. It gives us motivated
reasoning on steroids. This is why we have an
explosion of fake news. It’s not just the technology,
it’s our own passions. This leads to a trust spiral. The more we hate the other side, the more we distrust them
and our institutions, the more democracies become dysfunctional. It’s not really clear how one
gets out of a trust spiral. One of the most important
political developments in the United States,
which I don’t, I didn’t, it wasn’t mentioned in the last panel. In fact, it’s usually not
mentioned on panels when I see is negative partisanship. Has that been mentioned
yet, negative partisanship? So it’s a very important concept. Here are two political scientists, Shanto Iyengar and Masha Krupenkin surveyed, by after
surveying the ANES data set, they say that while
cross-partisan animus or hatred began to rise in the ’80s, it’s grown much more dramatically, it’s grown much faster
since the year 2000. Just in the last 18 or so
years, it’s grown much faster. I’ll show you in a moment. “Our hostility toward the opposing party “has eclipsed positive
affect for one’s own party “as a motive for political participation.” This is really, really important. As was said before, have we sorted into a liberal party and
a conservative party, yes, but it’s not that we love our candidate. We’re sorting into parties
based on who we hate, and people hate the
other side so strongly, that’s what binds them in. That’s what makes them vote. So here’s the data showing that. So for, we’re going back
to I think the ’60s, this shows the ’80s,
the ANES asks for people for ratings on a feeling thermometer, from zero to a hundred, zero
is very cold, very negative, hundred is very warm, I like it very much, how do you feel about a
bunch of different things? Different ethnic groups,
different parts of the government, all sorts of things, and
one thing they always ask is, “How do you feel
about the Democratic Party “and the Republican Party?” So on the top line are
the in-party ratings. So blue is the Democrats
on the, well actually, well all right, in this, blue
happens to be in this case, Republican ratings of Republican, and red is the Democrats of
Democrats, it doesn’t matter. But as you see, they’re high, and they’re not really changing. I stopped that at 1999. And then the lower two lines
are the cross-party ratings. They’re low, but notice,
they’re in the 40s. So in the 1980s and ’90s, people didn’t like the other party, but they didn’t say five. They said 40, 45, 46. Look what happens after 2000. The cross-partisan ratings
plummet, so this is a new thing. This is just since the year 2000. So that’s the cross-party ratings. Now look at the cross-candidate ratings. What do you think, how do
you rate the candidate, the presidential candidate being
proposed by the other side? And again, as you see, the
within-party ratings are high. The cross-party ratings are low, but they’re still in the 40s. But again, when we look more recent, now we have a really low drop. So this is Democrats’ ratings of Trump. It’s about, you know, seven. And Republicans’ ratings
of Hillary Clinton, it may be eight or nine or
10, something like that. So extremely low, real hatred
of the other candidate. My friend, Hetherington and Weiler, so Mark Hetherington, and I
don’t know Weiler’s first name, Hetherington and Weiler
have a new book out, and what they did was
they took the ANES data, and they said, “What percentage of people “give a rating below 20?” which really shows that you hate them. And so throughout the ’80s and ’90s, very few people gave cross-partisan
ratings of 20 or below, but in the last 15, 20
years, it’s now much higher. Many more people really,
really hate the other side, the other candidate, the other party. There’s a wonderful
article by Molly Crockett showing exactly how social
media changes our ability to express our hatred, to attack people. It raises the cost of some things, but mostly it lowers
the cost of some things. It makes it much easier for us to express cross-partisan hatred. I won’t go into this, but
I urge anyone interested in social media to look into that. So once you understand this, that the hatred makes it much easier for social media to
allow us to express it, now you can see why it’s so
easy for Cambridge Analytic, if it gets the right data, to target ads that will drive people crazy, that will drive them
into paroxysms of hatred, even with fake information. And this is why it’s so
easy for the Russians to manipulate us, to
manipulate our elections. Now, you might think, “Oh,
it’s all the technology, “it’s all those bots. “Can’t we get a technological solution “to eliminate the bots?” Well, a really important study published in Science last year about
Deb Roy’s lab at MIT, they looked at how information spreads, and what they found is
that fake information always spreads faster on
Twitter than true information, if it’s more outrageous, but here’s the really important quote. They found that, “the
spread of false information “is essentially not due to bots “that are programmed to
disseminate inaccurate stories. “Instead, false news speeds around Twitter “due to people retweeting
inaccurate news items. “When we removed all of
the bots in our data set, “the differences between
the spread of false “and true news stood,”
says one of the coauthors. “In other words, we’re all
Russian bots now, willingly.” So this is how this happens. I believe he had good intentions. I’ve spoken at Facebook a few times. They’re idealistic. They really believe they
want to connect the world. They want to make the
world a better place, but I believe they reached in, changed some social constants, and social worlds and
democracies are going haywire. It isn’t really clear whether
we can survive, quite frankly. So the second principle. There are many foundations of morality. So let’s talk about why
left and right differ. So my own work has been on developing moral foundations theory,
trying to understand what are like, the innate
taste buds of the moral sense that are then developed culturally? So morality varies around the world, but within constraints,
sort of like cuisine. It varies around the world, but we all have the same tongue, we all have the same taste
buds, and so very briefly. My colleagues and I have
proposed that there are six best candidates for being the taste buds of the moral sense. There are more than six, but here are the six most
important ones for politics. So concerns about care and harm. We’re mammals, that means we have a lot of programming to nurture. We bear our young live,
and then we nurture them. So it’s not just the female body that is specialized for
live birth and lactation, it’s the female brain
in all mammal species, and in some mammal species, including us, those circuits in the
male brain are left on. In others, they’re turned off. But in humans, the male brain is also just
as specialized for care. Now, everybody has care and compassion, but if you look at the
political claims and rhetoric of left and right, what you
find in the modern United States is you find a lot of
this stuff on the left. So these are photos that I
took at Occupy Wall Street. A lot of discourse about
care and compassion. You don’t find that if you
go to a Tea Party rally. I mean, you don’t, conservatives
don’t talk this way. They love their children,
they love their dogs, but when they’re talking about policy, they’re not talking about compassion nearly as much as people on the left. Fairness and cheating,
everybody cares a lot about, but there’s two different aspects of it. So on the left, it’s
often seen as equality. If there are gross violations of equality, then there’s a gross
violation of fairness. So here’s a sign at Occupy Wall Street. “The 1% own 43%,” and
if you’re on the left, that is obviously unjust. But if you’re on the right, you might say, “Well, did the 1% create
43 times more value? “Maybe they deserved it.” And so that idea of proportionality is what’s dominant on the right. So this is a photo from a Tea Party rally taken by Emily Ekins. So, “Stop punishing success,” meaning, why do we have a graduated income tax, why do we charge successful
people a higher rate? So the flat tax is often
popular on the right. And, “Stop rewarding failure.” Why do we have these safety nets to bail out people who are irresponsible? And so the Tea Party is
launched after the bailouts. The third foundation is
liberty and oppression. Everybody in America believes in liberty, but there’s an interesting
psychology to it. So I taught at UVA for 16 years, and you don’t really, maybe
you haven’t thought about this, but have you ever noticed
that there’s a dead person on the flag of Virginia? Why would there be a dead person? And the reason is because the
British citizens of the king were trying to justify
overthrowing their king, and so sic semper tyrannis. The psychology is when you’re
being bullied, dominated, you want to link arms, join
with the other victims, overthrow or kill the bully. That’s the deep psychology. You find that in chimpanzees as well. And so this iconography,
this idea, this psychology is very visible in the
Occupy Wall Street rhetoric. So if the 99% could just come together, they could crush and kill the 1%. So this is an idea which
is common on the left. Now, on the right, it’s
actually common too, they just have a different bully. So it’s not so clear now
that Trump is in office, but before, when it was Obama
in office, and going way back, the bully is the government. And so the government is seen, and we have to take up arms
against the government. Fourth foundation is loyalty or betrayal. So there are many species
that can work cooperatively, but all of the other ones are siblings. So species that have this genetic trick for cooperating can be very successful. Only humans are able to cooperate in large groups that are not siblings. We have a special trick for
that that I’ll talk about later, but we love cooperating so
much because we evolved for war that we invent fake war. We love fake war. We enjoy it. It triggers all kinds of
circuits for combat and conflict, and we love fake war so much
that we invented super fandom. People will dress up and
freeze themselves outside to show their loyalty
and support for the team. Now this one, I’ll show
you data in a moment, but this one you know, it’s just more common on
the right than the left. Loyalty, group loyalty is a bigger thing on the right than the left. Authority and subversion. We’re mammals who
evolved to show deference to authority or hierarchy. We’re a hierarchical species. We have similar displays to other primates of
deference and respect. There are some differences. This is a sign in
Charlottesville, Virginia. It’s a joke, obviously, but the sign says, “God’s in charge, so shut up.” It’s being playful, but this could never be a Unitarian church because left-wing Christians
just wouldn’t think this way. The respect for authority. So this is now, this is
not typical of the left, but this is an anarchist rally. “No gods, no country, no masters,
to hell with the troops.” Again, this is a very powerful rejection of the authority foundation. Last foundation, sanctity, degradation. So this is a painting of the Madonna in basically a rock chastity belt. It’s iconography of purity, and so the idea that
there’s something pure that must be defended from degradation. So very popular about sexuality
on the right, in particular, the religious right, I should say. Here’s another image of the Madonna. A very different Madonna.
(audience laughing) This is from her album, Sex,
in the 1990s, I guess it was. And so there’s culture war
issues over sex and sexuality. Now, it’s changing in
the last couple years, but for all of my life, it had
a clear left/right valence, and so this is a photo I
took in Charlottesville. “Your body may be a temple,
but mine’s an amusement park.” The implication is, you
stupid conservatives. And so it was a Jim Webb car,
so I know it was a Democrat. So anyway, if those
are the six foundations that are activated, so,
“Nothing is sacred,” at Occupy Wall Street. You would never see that at a conservative political movement. So putting this all together,
I run a research website. If you go to yourmorals.org, you can take our surveys, and
just to summarize the results. What we find, when
people come to the site, they have to register, and people who say that they’re very conservative, you know, on a seven-point scale, they actually give high scores to all six. All six of these foundations,
they say, “Yes, this matters. “This is real, I care about this.” Whereas people who say
that they’re very liberal, in contrast, they give the
highest rating to care. They have the most care-based morality, but they generally reject
loyalty, authority, and sanctity as foundations of morality. That doesn’t in any way mean that they’re worse or deficient. It just means progressive
or left-leaning morality is more focused on victims
and protecting victims. So implications for liberal democracies. Left and right build their appeals on different moral foundations, and then they talk past each other. The left builds on care and fairness, but fairness especially as equality. The right builds on
fairness as proportionality, but also builds more than the left on loyalty, authority, and sanctity. This leads to endless divisions and misunderstandings about
almost any issue you look at. If it’s a culture war issue, we can analyze it in terms
of these six foundations. So immigration, sexuality,
gender, race, the flag, everything, you’ll find that, if you understand these six foundations, you’ll see why left and right disagree. So kneeling for the National
Anthem, for example, obviously you know, a
very polarizing issue, with each side finding it self-evident that either Kaepernick
is good or is a traitor. And so to put this all together, many people are observing that the sort that was mentioned in the last panel, the shift of liberal Republicans over to the Democratic
Party and vice-versa, that purification is
a values purification. For the first time in our history, we have two parties that are
based on values and psychology, not on material interests. So here’s, this is a clear
demonstration from Pew. Since 1994, the Pew survey has been asking about a whole bunch of different things. I think they just noticed
a number of years ago that, hey, we’ve got 10 items that
we’ve asked about continuously, so let’s focus on this basket of 10. And so it’s things like aid to
the needy, race, immigration. They had a question on homosexuality, one on peace through strength. And so what you see is, if you split the American
electorate, the American populus, by a variety of features,
and then you take, how far apart are they, so
let’s look at gender first. So if we just say, on those 10 issues, how far apart are men
and women on average, just the absolute value, it doesn’t matter which one’s higher, just let’s just measure
how far apart they are, take the average of the absolute
values of the difference, what you see is that in 2004, men and women were
about nine points apart, and in 2017, they were
about seven points apart, so no real change. We’re not coming apart on our attitudes about political issues by gender. Now, there are ways in which we might be, but at least on these 10 items, there’s no evidence that
we’re coming apart by gender. If you look at religious
attendance, however, you see a much bigger trend. So in 2004, people who
went to church weekly, versus those who never went, were only about five
points apart, but by 2017, that had more than doubled to 11 points. So we are coming apart by
religious participation. But that doubling is nothing compared to what happened by party. We were 17 points apart in 2004, and it’s more than doubled since then. So we are coming apart by party on values. So that’s all I’ll say
about the second principle. On to the third principle of the three. Morality binds and blinds. So as I said, there are
species that can cooperate. If you see a large
structure on this planet, and it was built by living organisms, it was almost surely built by bees, ants, wasps, or termites. They’re the only ones that are
able to build large things. Like, even wolves can’t
build large things. So a beehive that’s a
you know, giant beehive, this is a termite mound in Australia. So termites are, these are
all ultra-social creatures. They’re actually all siblings. They all have the same mother, and so evolution found a way
to keep millions of organisms together working for a common end by making them all siblings, basically sterile, they
can’t even reproduce. So that’s one trick. There is of course, one
species that can do it without being siblings, and that is us. If you see large structures
that weren’t built by bees, ants, wasps, or termites, they were probably built by homo sapiens, and if you go back far enough, you’ll find that the first ones that were built were religious. So it always starts with temples. Civilizations always start, at
least with large structures, the temple is always the
first thing that they build. Because we have this amazing trick. So that’s Babylon on the left
and Tenochtitlan on the right. So we have this amazing ability which is, if we circle around
something, we make it sacred, and then we become like one. So these are Muslims at prayer
circling the Kaaba in Mecca. And so the metaphor that I like to use is, if you remember your high school physics, if you move a wire
through an electric field, you generate electricity, okay? Now, Emile Durkheim, the
sociologist used this as a metaphor, that rituals
generate social electricity, the capacity to do work together. So if you take this metaphor,
that we worship something, we circle around, and it
generates electricity, well, that’s why flags are so important for those who think
that they’re important. We circle around the flag, and
then we unite as a country, and then we can fight more
effectively with others. Think about the rally in
Charlottesville last year. What were they doing? If they really, really
wanted to protect the statues in Charlottesville of
Confederate generals, the stupidest possible thing would be for Nazis to
go march to the statues. I mean, what better way to guarantee that they’ll be taken down? So it wasn’t actually to save the statues. But the statues worked brilliantly as a social electricity generator to start your movement of neo-Nazis. So monuments have a ritual
power, a social power. That’s what they were
doing in Charlottesville. So if you think this way,
then what you can see is that, when we circle around our shared values, we’re creating a polarity, electricity. Our side is good, their side is bad. Our side is perfectly good,
their side is perfectly bad. This has many implications
for liberal democracies. As our politics is becoming more tribal, more passionate, and more dangerous, it’s becoming more like a
fundamentalist religion. Our politics is now much more like a fundamentalist
religion for some people than it was 10 or 20 years ago. So on the left, on the right, we’re beginning to see actual violence. Until a couple of years ago,
we had rising polarization, but essentially no violence. Now, we’re beginning to see violence. There’s a wonderful
study that just came out a few weeks ago called
The Hidden Tribes Study. Please raise your hand if you’ve seen it, if you’ve read anything
about it, raise your hand. Okay, hardly anyone. It got a lot of press in
The Atlantic, especially. It’s a wonderful study. If you really want to now what’s going on with the American
electorate, read this study. They’ve got great charts. I’ll show you some. I’ll walk you through the
key findings right now. ‘Cause I find it just
illuminates everything when I’m thinking about American politics. It’s from an organization based
in the UK, More in Common, formed after the murder of Jo Cox by a British right-wing nationalist. And what they do is they
did a cluster analysis. They surveyed 8,000 Americans. They’ve done this in other countries too. 8,000 Americans, answering
a lot of questions. They then did a statistical procedure called a cluster analysis
to put people together who answered with similar patterns. What they find is that
there are seven clusters, they call them tribes. There are seven tribes, let’s
say, in the United States. And so I won’t go through all of them. I’ll focus on the two wings. These are the two most
important ones to understand to see why things have
gone the way they’ve gone. As you were talking
about primaries before, primaries are mostly voted
in by these two wings. So we have to understand them. So the progressive activists
are the furthest left. Then come the tradition
liberals, passive liberals, politically-disengaged, moderates, traditional conservatives,
and on the far-right, they call them devoted conservatives. Now, the devoted conservatives
are described in this way. This is their words, with
my shrinking, my editing. So it’s one of the highest
income earning groups. They’re highly engaged in
social and political issues. They think religious liberty,
abortion, and terrorism are especially important. They value patriotism,
loyalty, traditional values. As I was saying, those three foundations, loyalty, authority, sanctity. They think that traditional
values are under assault. Americans are being forced
to accept liberal beliefs. They believe that American
values are being eroded rapidly, and they see themselves as
defenders of those values. Now, that way of thinking
is sometimes described, or at least it’s similar to the psychology of authoritarianism. Authoritarians are very sensitive to the decay of moral order, and they react sometimes
violently to that. So the study included some
questions on authoritarianism, on child-rearing values, which are related to authoritarianism. And as you can see here, the devoted conservatives
are the outliers. So there are some
authoritarians in every group, but people who score,
who match the criteria or the definitions for authoritarianism are most common in this far-right group. Now I don’t want to slander them by saying that they are killers,
but some of the extremists who come out and actually
engage in violence seem to be from that group, and are motivated by that way of thinking. So Robert Bowers, his last
Tweet, it wasn’t on Twitter, it was on Gab, but he said, HIAS, it was the Hebrew International. Okay, it brings in, it
was founded originally to bring in Jewish refugees from pogroms. Now it more generally has the motto, “Welcome the stranger,
protect the refugee.” So Robert Bowers tweeted or gabbed, “HIAS likes to bring invaders
in to kill our people. “I can’t sit by and watch
my people get slaughtered. “Screw your optics, I’m going in.” Those were his last words on social media. So, that is the authoritarian
way of thinking, defending the moral order, the
racial ethnic group against, but that’s right-wing identity politics. Now the progressive activists
at the other extreme, they have strong ideological views, high levels of engagement with politics, the highest level of education and SES of any of the seven groups. They have an outsize role
in political discourse. They’re only 8% of the population, but especially on the left, they dominate. They dominate writing,
activism, leadership. So they have a very,
very large role to play. They’re highly sensitive to
issues of fairness and equity, particularly with regard to race, gender, and other identities. They focus on power structures. That leads them to be
pessimistic about fairness. They think these inequities are baked into the power structure, and it’s almost impossible to change them. They’re uncomfortable with nationalism, and they’re ambivalent about America. Now the point I want to
make about them is that, on most of the measures,
wherever there is an outlier, it’s usually them. They are the furthest out
from the rest of America of any group, even the
farthest-right group. So what they often do in this report is they’ll look at where people are on multiple attitudes at the same time. So on race and racism,
and affirmative action. So “Racism is very
common in the USA today,” is on the horizontal axis, and
as you see, it is in order. So people on the left give our highest, and as you move to the
right, it drops down, so that on the far-right, only
about 15% say yes to that. This, on the X-axis, “Race
should not be a factor “in college admissions.” And the great majority of people say no, they agree with that, it
should not be a factor. Only the progressive
activists are outside that. So there’s a general
American consensus that, in this part of it, and it’s the outliers are
the progressive activists. But they’re of course, extremely influential in higher education. In some departments of the university, they’re 80 or 90% of the
faculty are in that box. I don’t know what percentage
of professors overall, but it’s probably the
largest single group. Another pair of attitudes. So this is the closest to on issues of political correctness. This one’s actually very encouraging. So if you, on the Y-axis,
“Hate speech is a problem.” And what you see is that
most Americans agree. Even the conservatives are at 50%, but all the other groups agree,
hate speech is a problem. But on this axis, “Political
correctness is a problem,” and here you have very high agreement. So all groups agree, political
correctness is a problem, and the great major, most people agree hate
speech is a problem. Most Americans are
actually pretty reasonable. They’re willing to say that there’s some truth on the right and on the left. The one outlier is the
progressive activists. They say that hate
speech, almost 98% of them say hate speech is a
problem, but only about 30%, 35% say that political
correctness is a problem. So they are the outliers. In this Hidden Tribes study, they used my moral
foundations questionnaire, and they replicated my
findings with my colleagues. So what they found is that
the progressive activists score very high on care and fairness, but very low on the other foundations. Whereas the conservatives
are high on all of them, so it just replicates
what I showed you before. Now, as David Brooks observed
in reading about this report, he says, “Wow, these two groups “are the richest of all the groups. “They are the whitest
of all of the groups.” So the far-right is almost entirely white, but the far left is almost
entirely white also. And so his essay was titled,
The Rich White Civil War. that’s what’s driving our politics. Rich, white people who hate
other rich, white people. (audience laughing) So it’s between privileged progressives and privileged conservatives. And you can really see the dynamic, so this is such an interesting graph. Here, what they did is they crossed, “How politically engaged are you?” so people are very politically active, so each one is an individual person, “How politically active are
you, versus disengaged?” And here you have the left-right axis, liberal to conservative. And so there’s a scatterplot. And if you look at it carefully,
you can kind of see a U, but I’m gonna make it more clear. Let’s wipe out the half of people who are not politically engaged or active. They don’t really matter in the sense of, if we’re trying to
understand our democracy as it presently is, they’re
not playing much of a role. So let’s look at the people
who are playing a role, and now what do you see? Now what you see is the purple dots are the activists on the
left, so this region here, the highly-active people, it’s mostly the progressive
activists, and here, it’s mostly, well, the
devoted conservatives in the darker purple,
and then there are also some of the traditional conservatives. But now you can really see, there’s not many people
active in the middle, so it really is a battle
between the two wings. Those are the people who
are very politically active, and that’s why your discussion earlier of primaries is so important. These are the people who
are voting in primaries. These are the people who
are either authoritarians or so pro-political correctness that they’re willing to
put in place policies that alienate a lot of the country. So that’s all I’ll say about
those, that third principle. So again, if you understand
those three principles, you can understand moral psychology, and I think a lot of it is relevant to any question of political reform. I’m just gonna end with a few thoughts on how you might now design
for centripetal force. So what do I mean by that? Actually, as a result
of Rick inviting me to a conference on
polarization four years ago, the video of that was posted online, and an editor at the Washington
Post saw it and said, “Oh wow, what a great list of 10,” because I prepared a list
of 10 for your conference, so you know, here’s 10 reasons why America is getting so
much more polarized in 2014, and then they published
it in the Washington Post, so if you just Google this, you can find the list of 10 top reasons. I wrote it up with Sam
Abrams, a political scientist. And so here was our list. There are a few more that you could add, but I think this one does pretty well. I won’t go through it in detail. I’ll just, you can tell, I
mean, you know most of them. Party realignment, which
was talked about before, and that then led to a
mass sorting of voters, left progressive voters
into the Democratic Party and conservatives to the Republican. Big changes in Congress. It was controversial. I side with Mann and Ornstein who say that it was more the Republicans’
fault, and Newt Gingrich, but it’s, my conservative friends tell me, “No, that’s all wrong,” so I
don’t know what the truth is. But there were big changes
in Congress in the ’90s that led to a much more polarized elite. Media fractionation in
the ’80s with cable news, cable TV, and then the
internet, and then of course, social media is a giant step up from that. Residential homogeneity. We began sorting ourself
physically, and then of course, now we’ve sorted ourselves virtually and electronically as well. End of the Cold War,
loss of a common enemy. Increasing immigration
and racial diversity. We had immigration restrictions,
we had very low diversity. The percent foreign-born reached
its minimum in the 1960s, and then has been going up since then, and in many countries,
increasing diversity does lead to increasing
political polarization. The increasing role of money, leaders trying to not alienate donors. Generational changing of the guard, the Baby Boomers, or I’m sorry, the Greatest Generation united
to fight foreign enemies, the Baby Boomers split
to fight each other, and then lastly, increasing education. Educated voters care a lot
more about symbolic politics, rather than bread-and-butter issues. So these are, this is my list of 10. There’s more, but I think, as you can see, there’s a lot of reasons
this is happening, and many of them, most of
them, are not reversible. So to put it all together,
why did I say centripetal? The metaphor that I use
in my own thinking is that the United States, like any country, is this complex contraption, and if you imagine a complex contraption that is now spinning around, and so there’s pressure
for it to fly apart, and so a metaphor is,
you know, as you see, if you have three kids,
and there’s a pole, and one of them holds on to the pole, and they run around, the faster they go, the more centrifugal force
there is pulling them outwards, and eventually, if they go fast enough, the chain will break,
and they’ll go flying, and they’ll laugh, and it’s funny, but they’ve just discovered
centrifugal force. Centripetal force is what’s
pulling them into the center, pulling along the chain of their hands, but it can only pull so much. It can’t hold an infinite amount of force. And so if the centrifugal
forces exceed the centripetal, then the thing will break apart. And I think the way to
describe our situation is that the forces holding us together reached a maximum in the
mid to late-20th Century. Everything was lined up in
an historically-amazing way. I mean, think about the media environment. We had three television networks that were sort of center-left,
but all fairly centralizing. Whereas in the early days of the republic, all the newspapers were
partisan and full of lies. So it was a temporary period
in the mid-20th Century when we had a lot of things lined up. We’d just won World War II, and then we went right into the Cold War, so a lot of things like that. The centripetal forces from
the 1940s through the 1980s, the centripetal forces were probably the highest they’d ever been, and now I think we’ve had a steady decline of centripetal force, and
an increase in centrifugal. So to summarize, here are
some common centrifugal versus centripetal forces. And as you might notice,
Scandinavian countries, which are thought to be
more successful nowadays as democracies benefit from all of these, except for conflict with another nation, but small, shared language, long history, shared cultural norms, low
immigration, high trust, those things tend to give
cohesion and make it, those are inward-pulling. America doesn’t have all of these. We don’t have a lot of
linguistic diversity. We do have a common English language, but America suffers from those. So that’s sort of a sociological view of what does it take to
have a cohesive nation that can work together to solve problems. And if you think in these terms, centrifugal versus centripetal forces, then the challenge for this, the challenge that I will leave you with, as you talk about reforms,
political and legal reforms is, rather than having a political system in which almost all of the
action is in the two wings, which everything that happens
is driven by the two wings, what would it take to
change American democracy so that the other five groups
were much more influential? So for example, what would it take to reduce the influence
of the two extreme groups, and instead to increase the
influence of the moderate left. There are two left-leaning groups there that are much more open to compromise, that are much more willing
to work with conservatives, to share a country, to share a business, to share a classroom with conservatives. What would it take to
empower the moderate left? What would it take to empower
the traditional conservatives? Now, they are considered
a wing group in the report because they have made
common cause with this group. They have joined them in backing Trump. So their attitudes aren’t that different, but psychologically,
they’re very different. Karen Stenner, a political scientist, calls them “status-quo conservatives,” like William Buckley, or George H.W. Bush. Status-quo conservatives don’t
believe in radical change. They don’t believe in
ripping up alliances. They take it slow and steady. So they are, as Karen Stenner says, “great defenders of democracy.” So to have them in alliance
with the authoritarians is a sad state of affairs, I think. So what would it take to empower the status-quo or
traditional conservatives? And what would it take
to increase participation and influence of the non-partisans? As you had a question before
about mandatory voting. Well, that would do it, but
I agree with the panelist, that that couldn’t happen in this country. But that would do it, that
would raise their participation. So that is the design challenge
that I leave you with. Oh, and lastly, I’m sorry. Overall increasing trust in the system, in the process, and in fellow citizens. And so I wasn’t here for
the gerrymandering panel, but even if gerrymandering wouldn’t make a huge difference in the
outcome of the House, if it increases trust in the
system, it’s a good thing. So these are some of the design challenges that I want to leave you with, as you think about what
role moral psychology might play in discussions
of political reform. Thank you very much.
(audience applauding) – Fantastic, thank you. We have time for questions for Jonathan, so if you have a question
and want to walk up to one of the mics, please do so. – [Audience Member] So what would increase the centripetal forces in American life? – Say it again, louder. – [Audience Member] What would increase the centripetal forces
in American society? – What would increase
the centripetal force? So, lots of things. If we had a year of service,
for example, you know, military service, or
some non-military thing. If people had some share,
so we’re coming apart by social class, and
by urban/rural, so in, I’m a strong believer that 18-year-olds should not be going to college today. The reason I say that is because, in my book that just came out, The Coddling of the American Mind, we show that 18-year-olds
today have the life experience and maturity of 15-year-olds
from 30 years ago. They’re not ready for college, on average. And this is one of the reasons why depression and anxiety rates are so high. So for a lot of reasons, we should not be sending
18-year-olds into universities. They should go spend a year or two working or doing a year of service. Having some common
experiences happens in Israel, and many other countries, that would help. Other things that would help. I’ll say it, I mean, some
of it’s controversial, but I think a generally
assimilationist approach to immigration is the right way. That is, Americans are
generally very pro-immigration. I think the 20th-Century model in which Irish and Italians and Jews
and all the waves of immigrants assimilated, it worked out
very well for those groups. Now I understand it’s complicated, but I think in Europe especially, it would really help them if
they thought about immigration in terms of an assimilationist approach, as Denmark is doing, but Sweden is not. Let’s see. Anything that increases
trust in the system. This is one of the reasons I am so alarmed because it’s not just
that the last election was a mess in a lot of ways, it’s that social media means
that whatever the truth is, we will all drown in
irrefutable, horrible proof of the evilness and
cheating of the other side, and there’s almost no way
to establish truth anymore. So I think social media is going to, is making trust in systems
decline all over the place. Those are just a few considerations. – Other questions I’m sure. You leave people in a dark place, so they’re trying to cover
(audience laughing) and figure out what kind of. – Wait, hold on a second. We’re in a room with a lot of NYU lawyers, and you know, alumni of NYU. I cannot believe that a
room full of NYU law alums and professors doesn’t have dozens of questions and challenges. – [Audience Member] I have a question. – Go ahead, okay go ahead. – I have a question, can you hear me? – Yes. – Okay. – [Audience Member] As
soon as I have a question, they don’t know what to do? – Okay, hold on, hold on,
we’re taking turns, go ahead. – European countries have
roughly the same seven groups. The difference is just that
they have each their own party. I think due to different voting rules than the first-past-the-post
voting rules here in America. Do you think some of the
problems would be solved if you switched to European voting rules? – Yeah, so this is one
where definitely the panel is more knowledgeable than me. I’ll just give my little sound bite is, the worst number of parties
to have in a country is one. The second worst is two.
(audience laughing) Especially in an age of polarization. So I do suspect that
something that allowed parties or sub-parties or
coalitions would be better, but I do take Rick’s point and others, that then you get the little parties. So if there was a way to at
least always have the threat of a split or something,
so that the extremists in each party don’t have
so much control, yes. I think we need to learn
from other countries to see what works, all right, thank you. Yes please, go ahead. – [Audience Member] Oh, I’m short. It was good to hear your study of that, the 18-year-old mind is of the 15, but some of us think it’s 11.
(audience laughing) I grew up in Park Slope,
which was very interesting when I was growing up ’cause
you had the black, the white, the Hispanic, the Irish,
the Jews, the Italians, and then you had the very rich and the very poor living
together, you know. And I was reading Rolling Stone magazine, and one of my friends was in there, and I was very shocked to find out, not that she was in Rolling Stone magazine ’cause most of my friends are on TV or on Rolling Stone magazine something, but I was shocked to find out who her family was. I did not know that, you know. And this is an individual
that worked in Hagen Dogs, which is where Connecticut Muffin is now, and all of the teenagers were,
now that I think about it, whether they were white,
black, poor, whatever, they all worked, and they
were supposed to work either to be more socially, you know, alert, or because they
needed the money, or both. But the immigration, the
reason why I came up here is because you mentioned the immigration right after you mentioned the work. A lot of us really feel the reason why teenagers can’t work today
’cause there aren’t any jobs, and they are hiring a lot of
immigrants at illegal wages, and it’s, whether you need
the job or don’t need the job, there are just no jobs for teenagers, unless you are part of a
university, and they create some, I don’t know what kinda
jobs for $27 an hour, – Right, okay, so. – [Audience Member] But it’s not the norm, so what do you really make of that, and where are these teenagers
supposed to find jobs? – Well, the decline in teen employment has been fairly steady as soon
as Gen Z enters the data set. So the Millennials, they
got jobs as teenagers through boom and bust cycles, but the working for summer
pay, working for summer jobs, goes down for kids born after 1995. The best thinking about
why kids born after 1995 are so different has nothing
to do with the economy. In fact, as the economy has
gone up, and up, and up, as the unemployment’s gone down, and down, and down since 2009, the
labor force participation of the youngest Americans has
gone down, and down, and down. So it doesn’t seem to be related
to economic fluctuations. Yes. – You discussed how people tend to find information that
confirms their own biases. What ways can we increase our own openness to finding out the truth, and also what can be done to
improve the media’s coverage of politically-charged events? – Great, I’ll focus on the first question, as that’s one that I
think I can answer better. The second one is harder. What I found. So I started on this journey in order to help the Democrats win. I was a typical, left-wing academic, and I couldn’t stand it that the Democrats lost two elections to George W. Bush. And so I set out to try to understand conservative thinking and psychology. And in the process, I forced myself to subscribe to National
Review and to watch Fox News, and boy, did I learn a lot! I realized, oh my God, you really can’t understand an issue until
you’ve heard critics. You can’t understand if you
only listen to your side. And so now I’m a huge partisan of saying, we need viewpoint diversity
in any institution that is charged with finding the truth. Now what I’ve discovered is that, if you simply are exposed to things on the other side in the abstract, you’re very good at rejecting it, but if you meet real human
beings who are sincere and tend to almost always be nice, that opens your heart,
and if your heart is open, then your mind is open. So relationships are
really, really important. And that’s why it’s so tragic
that in the last few years all across the country, college students are saying more and more, especially conservatives and libertarians, they’re saying, “I just
keep my mouth shut. “It’s just not worth it. “I’ll be attacked, I’ll be shamed.” And so we don’t have a
lot of viewpoint diversity in the academy, but what we have, we need to bring out, not suppress. So relationships is the best way. I’ll also put in, in an
answer to the first question as well, my team, we developed
a thing called OpenMind. If you go to Open Mind Platform, it’s a free program designed
to actually help people learn about the other side and learn why we have so much trouble
understanding each other, and learn how to talk to
people of different values. So it can be used in
any college classroom, any high school classroom, any synagogue or church, any company. So we’re working on ways to help people actually get the benefit
of disconfirmation, of institutionalized disconfirmation and challenge to their preexisting views. Thank you. – [Audience Member] Two challenges, since you said that’s what you wanted. – Please, yep. – [Audience Member]
One is on polarization. I’m rather shocked to hear
you say that this polarization just happened over the last few years. When you look at the
history of immigration, signs started over a hundred years ago that said, “No dogs and Irishmen allowed.” There was bigotry against every new immigrant group that came. – Well, I’m not talking about bigotry. That has been much higher than it is now. I’m only talking about
cross-partisan hostility. – [Audience Member] Well, potato potato. – Well, potato pancake.
(audience laughing) – [Audience Member] Still flour. – Okay, touche. – [Audience Member] But
the point of the matter is, there is some cyclical repetition. The person whose name won’t be mentioned reminds me of the
Know-Nothing Party in America. Again, another cyclical
example of what has occurred, and I think that diversification
works very well in America. You use Scandinavia as an
example where it works well. What do you think of the
suicide rates in Scandinavia? – [Rick] Cold and dark. – Yeah, so well, yeah. As to whether they’re cyclical things, certainly we were more polarized
in the mid-19th Century, around the time of the Civil War. So I would never want to interpret history as a one-way ratchet, and we need to look to
the past to understand it. As for suicide rates, those are going, those move up and down. Those are skyrocketing
in the United States for teenagers only, and
especially for girls. Linking suicide rates to mega historical trends is difficult. There are, seem to be, ethnic differences. So Hungarians are just
predisposed genetically, it seems, to kill themselves. I don’t know about Scandinavians, and I also would want to look into Seasonal Affective Disorder. I don’t know. Yeah, that’s a question for
psychiatrists to talk about. I don’t know about that. – [Rick] I think we have time for the three people who are in line, for quick questions, and
then we’ll shut down. – [Audience Member] Just a
very short, practical question. The next president of the United States is going to have an enormous
job of rebuilding devastation that’s happened and has
been planned, and yet, at the same time, we
attended seminars today where we’re talking about possibly having 20, 25 possible candidates. What sort of things in your opinion, should we be looking for
in a potential candidate? – So I’m of the view that we tend to put too much faith and trust
and belief in individuals. Like, we think in narrative. We think in stories, and so we think, oh, you know, this was
caused by this person, and we need some person
to come in and save us. Now, leadership is essential,
and obviously someone, you know, like Obama at least came in talking a good game about
it, and Trump is, you know, is not talking a good game about it. So leadership certainly matters, but I am much more of a systems fan. I look at systems, and
systems and parameters. And so I think we need to look
at all the forces operating. I don’t think just a great leader who’s gonna talk a good game
is gonna have much impact if the incentives on individual
congressmen don’t change, if the incentives on media don’t change, if the power of social media
to put videos in our face that are so horrific that
they make us furious, I don’t think that, if we could design the
perfect next president, it wouldn’t be somebody who is a healer. It would be somebody who has
the power to knock heads, get Congress to pass reforms, somehow commit America
to a path of systemic, and structural, and legal reform. That’s where I’d put my money. – [Audience Member] I agree with that. I just think that’s the
second part of the problem. – I’m sorry, I have to go. – Excuse me, I have to
go to the other question. – [Audience Member] Okay. – [Audience Member] I felt it
interesting about listening to Fox News and
understanding the other side, and particularly as you
talk to other people, you realize they’re human beings, and you want to understand the issues, no matter how painful that may be, you try to open yourself up. A couple of weeks ago, I was
at a panel, and Haley Barbour, the former head of the
RNC, was on the panel. He talked about Ronald Regan
giving a State of the Union, and that at the end of
the State of the Union, Dan Rostenkowski it was on tax
reform, a big portion of it, and Dan Rostenkowski gets up and says, “We Democrats believe in tax reform too. “We differ on a number of issues. “We would like to work together.” He then said, “Completely impossible “to do that in today’s day and age.” So the question I have is, as you talk about getting to know people, and opening yourself
up to different ideas, and understanding how they’re
motivated on a human level, if all the leadership
believes that it’s treasonous to work on the other side, right, and everything becomes sheer
and utter warfare, right, so the Democrats take the House, it’s going to be a flurry of subpoenas, a flurry of investigations,
it’s warfare on both sides, okay, not pointing fingers,
but complete warfare, and working together is viewed
again, okay, as a problem, doesn’t that just have a cycle
that only feeds into the fact that that’s the way we should be acting? – Yes, that’s right. So so far, there’s been
a polarization cycle. Newt Gingrich came in and
did a variety of reforms that gave us a more combative House, but you have to also grant what my conservative friends tell me, which is the reason he did
that is because the Democrats treated the Republicans
so badly beforehand. So it goes, and it goes back and forth, and it gets worse and worse. And again, I’m a big fan of
Norm Ornstein and Tom Mann. So in their book It’s
Even Worse Than It Looks, they have a bunch of
reforms, one of which is, the schedule should be three
weeks in session, one week off. One of the big changes that happened is that congressmen and women
used to live in Washington. They brought their families. Their spouses did
charitable things together. Their kids played on the
baseball team together. They had human relationships,
and those go a long way. Politicians, the ones that I’ve met, are amazingly skilled socially. They’re generally very
warm, friendly people. They have these special
skills that are useful for dealing with other people, and they did that up until the ’90s. And then after the ’90s, no more. They don’t know each other. So Gingrich changed the calendar. All business is done
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. You leave your family
at home, you fly home. You’re only there for two or three nights. Why rent an apartment? Bunk with some other
members of your party. So it was that social change. Again, I don’t put much
faith in the president. I put a lot of faith in
social changes in Congress. You’d have to end the Hastert Rule. It’s horrible to have
the minority cut out. The minority has to have input. So I’m hopeful that there
will be a package of reforms if congresspeople and senators, if they care about the institution, they’ll come up with a package
of reforms that will kick in in two or four or six years, but at some point in the future, when we don’t know who’s gonna control it, they’ll kick in. That’s what I think needs to happen. – [Audience Member] Thank you. – Last question, if you have a quick one. – [Audience Member] My
question is gonna be on political parties. So if we go back to the early
part of the 19th Century, we had the Whig Party,
we had the Federalists, and we had Jefferson was leading
the Democratic Republicans. And going back to a comment
you made two questions ago regarding systems and parameters, what are some of the
characteristics or elements of what you see in either
the Democratic Party today or the Republican Party
falling apart and splitting? – Yeah, that’s kinda what
I’m putting my hopes on, is that one party will have
a string of electoral defeats that will force it to reform, and I was kinda hoping
that that was gonna happen to the Republican Party because
there was the Reform Econ, now it’s not, I’m not, it’s like, there was the Reform Econ people. There was like, some
of the, you know, like, Reihan Salam and other intellectual, sort of center-right intellectuals. Like, if those ideas had become the basis for the Republican Party, then I would’ve considered
voting Republican. So I, the parties are going to evolve. One other person we should
bring into the conversation here is Mickey Edwards, former
Republican congressman. He has a book called The
Parties Versus The People. His point is that the two
parties have created a duopoly. It’s in neither of their
interests to allow a third party, and so they’ve set things up
to prevent that from happening. So party reform, the
way the parties are run, that has to be part of whatever
equation we can come up with to have more flexible parties. My libertarian friends
say, “Well, you know, “you wanted to concentrate
everything in Washington. “You wanted huge amounts of
power at the federal level, “so now the two parties act
as though it’s life or death “who controls it because it is.” So one solution they propose
to our hyper-polarized age is since Washington is
completely incapable of doing things well or
efficiently or at all because of the polarization
and other things, as much as can be brought
down to the state level or passed out to the
private sector, you know, I think we have to look
at because the future of federal progress on anything is bleak. – And on that note.
(audience applauding) Let’s all thank Jonathan very much for a wonderful lunchtime talk.

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