an insight into conservative and liberal values

harry , meghan and the public opinion

Posted by Craig Dsouza on Saturday, March 13, 2021 Tags: conservatives liberals morals   3 minute read
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harry-and-meghan Mark Jones, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

I see the public response to Harry and Meghan’s Oprah interview as a good marker of the spread of conservative and liberal values. Jonathan Haidt in his research documents the moral foundations of societies: care, fairness, liberty, loyalty, sanctity and authority. These moral foundations, he likens to the taste buds we’re born with, sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami (meaty flavour). Each of us possess these taste buds, but the degree to which they each determine our taste preferences vary. Similarly, while we all possess the same moral foundations, the degreee to which they each shape our moral opinions varies.

His thesis, with a springling of my thoughts outlined below
Care for another beings is a moral that both liberals and conservatives share , but it is a bigger driver of liberal values. Fairness is a principle that both hold equally, but each define differently. Fairness to conservatives is “reap what you sow”, good deeds should be rewarded and bad ones should be punished. It is the moral principle behind their dislike of taxation. It also is the foundation for their belief in individual agency and the “stand on your own two feet” ideal. To liberals, in contrast, fairness is “equality of outcome”, if every societal context doesn’t end with the rewards equally distributed, this is unfairness. Liberty too is something that both conservatives and liberals value, but with liberals, corporations and/or higher castes are the oppressor, with conservatives government is the oppressor, dictating how one must live their life and taking away liberties. These three principles help explain why liberals are more pro-government and conservatives much less so.

Loyalty to the group, sanctity and respect for authority are traditionally hallmark conservative values. Liberals are less likely to defer to authority, observe icons/symbols/norms as holy and remain strongly loyal to a group affiliation. [1] For liberals, the individual reigns supreme group concerns are of less importance.[2]

In the case of Harry and Meghan those advocating most strongly for them are liberal/left leaning. They see the British royalty as elitist and oppressors and authority figures they cannot defer to and the importance they place on care primes them to feel compassion for Harry/Meghan. In contrast, conservatives believe the former royal couple are abdicating personal responsibility and without justification blaming the royal family for their dissatisfactions. Conservatives are also repulsed by the lack of respect for authority shown by a public shaming in the form of a high profile interview with Oprah.

[1] While this has been true in the past, left leaning actors too demonstrate their own group loyalties, which differ from those of the conservatives.
[2] Libertarians , not liberals are the most vocal advocate of individual sovereignty, but this is more complexity than I wish to get into with this article.