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Identifying the Sides

If you want to win a political argument, start by identifying the context in which your debater is framing the issue and slowly try to move him or her to the platform which is favorable to you. Anyone who has read a book in popular psychology, which I’ve read more than I’d like to admit, or freshman who has taken a psych 101 class will offer this advice. It’s understandably met with an eye roll the way a cliché like “walk a mile their shoes” should be.

The Board of County Commissioners 4-1 vote to move forward with the distribution of general funds formally known as the CARES Act during Tuesday’s meeting embodied a philosophical divide in this county -- one that I have become increasingly aware of that has been the motivation for me starting these entries.

This is going to take longer than a single column but today I will get the conversation started by identifying the two sides of the divide. Because I am firmly in agreement with one side does not mean I think less of those who are on the other nor do I want their opinions to be silenced. Expressing my own is not an attempt to drown out the other, or to win, but rather to supplement the conversation because the side I believe in is in the minority, as evident by the vote.

Jon Haidt, a moral psychologist who is the author of the majority of the pop psych books I’ve read, establishes six moral foundations upon which people build their opinion of current affairs. These are care, fairness, liberty, loyalty, sanctity and authority. Dr. Haidt started applying his research to politics with the intent of helping Democrats cater speeches to more persuasively appeal to voters but he has by his own admission become more ideologically conservative, or at least moderate, through the results his studies have yielded.

He posits with research to back his assertions that the ideological left frames nearly every issue through the care, fairness, and liberty foundations with little regard, if not outright disdain, for the foundation of authority as well as an inability to understand the role of sanctity.

The ideological right believes in all six foundations but with particular emphasis on sanctity and authority, a less heightened inclination toward care, and a different interpretation of fairness - boiled down to the over-simplistic but acceptable guide fairness defined as equal opportunity vs. equal outcome.

Before I lose your attention to wanting to refute these assertions in defense of your own political ideology, I want to completely remove the context of left vs. right or liberal vs. conservative or Democrat vs. Republican. Let us strip these traditional labels from our minds to move forward to describe our situation in Citrus.

The most accurate description that also gets alliterations would be to call the two Citrus County sides the Principle Party and the People Party. I’m going to reject my own proposition for these names though for two reasons. I think the Principle Party, which I associate myself with, has a stronger positive connotation than the People Party. The second reason is I think this is because the People Party sounds too close to the People’s Party which is closely associated with communism and I don’t think the people I disagree with are communists, socialists, dangerous or malicious. I think they are good people who empower other good people but who I happen to have (sometimes frustrating, irreconcilable) differences of opinion with.

Instead I strive to remove my own biases and as objectively as possible refer to the two sides of the divide as the culturists and the idealists. The culturists, or People Party name rejected above, frame debate primarily through care and loyalty with little regard to sanctity. The idealists, or Principle Party which will be my last mention of it that way, view issues through the lens of sanctity and liberty. The two sides both honor fairness and authority equally but their definitions of each, like the equal outcome vs. equal opportunity argument among liberals and conservatives, is different.

I will explain my reasons for these distinctions in future entries as well as argue local affairs using both approaches to the best of my ability but this is the bedrock of the current state of the county.


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