Liberal and conservative emotions

I have often been reading and hearing opinions that Conservatives are rational while Liberals are emotional. This statement is appealing to Conservatives’ favor not only from a wording point of view but also from a conceptual point of view because rationality is generally preferred to emotions. While rationality could be both short-term and long-term, emotions are more often than not short-term.

Furthermore, most right decisions are rational. These are decisions that have been carefully considered before being made. For example, pursuing a degree in accounting with the intention of working at a bank is a rational decision, while pursuing a philosophy degree with the intention of being able to win arguments with your friends is an emotional decision. The first is rational because the individual would end up getting a job and make a living, while the second is emotional because the individual wouldn’t end up getting a job – not to mention that his or her friends are very likely not to care about winning the arguments.

How rational and how emotional are Liberals and Conservatives?

I know how Liberals and Conservatives ideologically stand on the issues. As you can seen from my blog, I have watched MSNBC and CNN which are perceived as liberal channels, especially MSNBC. I am familiar with what Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, Ed and Chris Matthews would say on an issue. Meanwhile, for the last two months I have been listening to conservative talk radio – mainly Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, Sean Hannity and Michael Savage. Listening to both sides of an issue is essential not only for the sake of freedom of speech but also for the sake of finding the truth, and being pragmatic and a competitive social scientist.

Here’s a list of five issues on how a Liberal and a Conservative would stand on them, and which side is more emotional (which I consider unreasonable in the article) on a particular issue, according to my estimates:

  • The economy: Liberals would want more government and more taxation to the rich, while Conservatives would want less government and lower and flatter taxes (example of a flat tax is a flat income tax where everyone is taxed at the same percent of their income, regardless of how high or low that income is). Liberals miss to understand the impact of taxes on the economy. As I have said in previous articles, taxes could suffocate the private sector, stall the economic growth, resulting in businesses hiring less and unemployment being higher than at lower taxes. Governments would then have to spend more on welfare instead of on more important areas such as security and education. Speaking of businesses, Liberals also miss to understand the fact that rich people create jobs, not poor people. Conclusion: Liberals are more emotional on the economy than Conservatives.
  • Abortion: Liberals are pro-choice, while Conservatives are pro-life. This issue has always been controversial not only in the United States but worldwide as well. It becomes even more controversial in cases where the fetus has developed enough so that it is able to live on its own, that is, independent on the mother’s system. To make things worse, while the mother’s opinion on what to do with her body matters, it is impossible to ask the fetus whether it wants to live. However, it is the mother’s body where the fetus is located, and, as stated in Roe v. Wade, it constitutes her privacy on whether or not to terminate her pregnancy. Furthermore, the Conservatives haven’t reflected much on what life is awaiting a child that is not wanted or, depending on the circumstances, cannot be raised by their parent(s) due to their possible financial difficulties. Conclusion: Conservatives are more emotional on abortion than liberals.
  • Death penalty: Liberals disapprove of it, while Conservatives approve of it. There are five objectives of criminal law punishments that every expert should be aware of as well as every legislator at both federal and state level: deterrence, incapacitation, rehabilitation, restitution and retribution. In regards to deterrence and incapacitation (the necessity of punishment based on how grave the criminal act was in order to deter, discourage or incapacitate the defendant and others from committing such crimes), capital punishment is not clear whether it works based on official data. While it looks as if the trend is increasing, it is comparatively decreasing for the last ten years, not to mention that some prisoners on death row are counted several times over the years (the data shows how many prisoners are on the death row, not how many death sentences are performed), and it doesn’t indicate what percentage of the total population of the U.S. these prisoners are. More information is needed in order to figure out whether capital punishment in the U.S. genuinely deters and incapacitates others from committing crimes punishable by death. In regards to rehabilitation (the necessity of punishment in order to restore the defendantr to a useful life), capital punishment doesn’t work since the life of the executed prisoner cannot be returned. In regards to restitution (the defendant is ordered to restore whatever they gained illegally from the plaintiff), capital punishment doesn’t work either because the defendant can’t return the life of whoever they murdered, neither can the defendant restore whatever information or asset they provided to a U.S. enemy (in cases of treason which is punishable by death). In regards to retribution (how satisfied the plaintiff, their close friends and beloved ones, and society as a whole), capital punishment works since the affected side (an example is Dr. William Petit of Cheshire, Connecticut, whose family (a wife and two daughters aged 11 and 17) were brutally raped and murdered, and the house was set on fire by Stephen Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky) usually wants the death penalty for the defendant(s). I am not going to discuss the costs of the death penalty because when it comes to justice, costs are justifiable because it has the potential to provide security to society in the long term. Conclusion: More data is needed on the functionality of the death penalty. Therefore, it cannot be determined whether Conservatives or Liberals are more emotional on the issue. I personally don’t believe in the death penalty but rather in life imprisonment without parole which I consider a harsher penalty than death itself.
  • International issues: Liberals are doves (opposing war as a means of resolving a dispute), while Conservatives are hawks (supporting war a s means of resolving a dispute). The two camps’ views on wars even coincide with their speeches. President Barack Obama, unlike former President George Bush, never used the term Axis of Evil, a term made up by Mr. Bush, when talking about Iran, Iraq and North Korea since Day 1 in Washington, D.C. In the Korean Peninsula, President Lee Myung-bak, a Conservative, has more agressive stances on North Korea than his predecessors Roh Moo-hyun and Kim Dae Jung, Liberals, who were trying to restore political, economic, and potentially social, connections with their northern neighbors through the so-called Sunshine Policy. Since then, diplomatic relations between the two countries have deteriorated, according to analysers. An argument in favor of Liberals is that a softer stance sends a positive message to the belligerent country’s or group’s (such as al-Quaida) sphere of influence (including to the rest of the world) – its people in particular, while a Conservative argument is that these people are belligerent toward “our country” anyway. Another Conservative argument is that the enemy should never be underestimated, that the enemy is not stupid, and therefore cannot be changed to good meaning that a softer attitude is not going to change the situation but can only make it worse by giving the enemy more chances to reinforce and attack. Conclusion: Liberals are more emotional on international issues than Conservatives but their views should not to be completely disregarded.
  • Gay marriage: Liberals approve of it, while Conservatives disapprove of it. Liberals believe that homosexuals should be treated the same way as heterosexuals – that is, have the right to marry and therefore have access to the same rights and liberties guaranteed by marriage. According to Conservatives, the definition of marriage is a union between a man and a woman pointing out long-time traditions and religion as  arguments to their favor. However, history has shown that traditions change or even disappear over the years. And when it comes to religion, it has a bad history on intervening in political, legal and social affairs. Religion generally had a significantly negative impact on political decisions during the Middle Ages, a long period of European history marked by scientific statism and countless wars. Religion has a significantly negative impact in modern Iran too where the Islamic Revolution of 1979 is still in power and the clergy, the government and the Revolutionary Guards use whatever means they have to inhibit every effort from free-thinking Iranians to have a say in their country’s direction. When it comes to adoption by homosexual couples, there is not enough data to prove what impact two males or two females have on the development of a child. Conclusion: Conservatives are more emotional on gay marriage than Liberals.

More issues some other time.


Filed under Life, Politics

3 responses to “Liberal and conservative emotions

  1. Michal

    The proof is in the pudding:

    Research has revealed that conservative people have emotionally-tuned but irrational brains, and liberal people have overly-rational, emotionally-deaf brains. Probably explains why liberal politicians are so deaf to the emotions of the public and bad at selling themselves.

  2. Ted

    Don’t agree with the abortion position. This conservative feels there are plenty of husbands and wives that due to no fault of their own can’t have children. Don’t you think they might make good parents?

  3. Thank you for your constructive comment, Ted! This all depends on several factors. The most important among them (from a policy analysis perspective):

    The number of orphans at orphanages: If plenty, then the plenty of husbands and wives that you talk about can start their process of adopting a child of any age.

    The willingness of parents (especially the mother who wants to have an abortion) to give their unwanted child through adoption: Arguably the biggest question in this factor is whether the government has the right to force a woman to give birth to her unwanted child. Some people might define such a requirement as a coercion, a more pejorative framing, and for good reason.

    The length of time required to test the potential adoptive parents – particularly how good they will be as parents. The adoptive process might take months or years.

    I think you should pay closest attention to the second factor.

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