Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think

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Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think audiobook

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Review #1

Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think audiobook free

Leaning Liberal and identifying as a Christian, I really wanted to understand how Conservatives think.
The author provides a perspective on Conservative thinking, but it felt like opinion. I didn’t see any substantiated information such as interviews, research articles, etc.
Initially, the author gets a little technical. Perhaps the author intended to use his education and profession to add credence to the book.
I found it a bit repetitive, drawn out, and uninformative. Often I keep books for reference, but I placed this safely in my curbside recycle bin.


Review #2

Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think audiobook streamming online

Liberals and Conservatives seem to agree on little. Even the strongest arguments on each side are brushed off as irrelevant by the other. Lakoff has contributed a significant work into the question of why and has begun to build a bridge across that chasm.

First off, it must be said that Lakoff is liberal, notes that it introduces bias into his research, and works hard to keep that bias out of his book (until the end and he warns you it’s coming). At its core, he seems to have succeeded in building two frameworks that are largely accurate, the Strict Father (conservative) and Nurturing Mother (liberal) moral foundations. Since I fall closer to the conservative framework, I can only say that I find his explanation of the liberal approach insightful and interesting. Since our national debate so rarely addresses these fundamental beliefs, it has always been difficult to understand the differing perspectives among groups of Americans. Lakoff has helped bring light to this side of the debate.

Unfortunately, Lakoff could not completely overcome his bias. He goes so far as to assert that the conservative moral system necessarily requires stern corporal punishment (using brutally violent allusions) and is, by definition, sexist and racist. I find this characterization insulting and more importantly inaccurate. Despite this inaccuracy, I have to give the book an excellent rating (4) because it is so groundbreaking in its attempt to communicate these very different frameworks.

If you decide to read the book, let me offer a slight refinement of his view which may help a liberal reader better understand the broader conservative perspective and a conservative reader get past his bias. This is especially important to remember when he characterizes the “Strict Father” attitude under the assumption that certain factors are, by definition, included.

I believe Lakoff is right that conservatives believe in a “Natural Order,” and perhaps more specifically that there is an absolute truth or an absolute right, in contrast to the “to each his own” or relativist approach he applies to the liberal moral system. Many conservative policies attempt to enforce a particular truth on society as he rightly notes. I believe that this absolute truth for *some* conservatives is held in ancient scriptures and is at minimum largely unchanging, a source of many of his characterizations including a hostility to change. I believe this should be considered a subset (special case) of a broader conservative moral framework; the same being said for the racism and sexism he includes as central or prerequisite in his fundamental “Moral Order.” Indeed the whole idea of a moral order is probably a special case of the core philosophy of a natural truth, historically misguided by self-centered bias and supposedly “scientific” proofs (of racial or sexual superiority as an example).

I do not believe that someone in this framework necessarily holds any of these specific subsets of unchanging beliefs and I feel this is where Lakoff misses the mark. It is possible to believe that there is some absolute truth or right (a core feature of conservative mentality) and at the same time be continuously refining your worldview in hopes of achieving this truth. You can recognize that former “truths” were clearly wrong (racism, sexism, and corporal punishment among them) but still believe that your evolving framework is closer and closer to right and thus worth broadly enforcing.

If someone’s behavior is clearly improper or in appropriate, your moral obligation is to create a system which encourages them to be “right.” You can still be free to question and review your beliefs, but you’re not going to sit around doing nothing just because you’re not certain that you’ve got it 100% correct. But a willingness to assert authority at a particular moment does not necessarily make it unchanging, as the stereotype might suggest. Beyond this, the characterizations and attitudes Lakoff notes are, for the most part, accurate.

With that material refinement for the liberal reader and assuming he has accurately reflected the liberal viewpoint, I believe that this book should be required reading for anyone engaged actively in American political debate. Even if someone could offer a better look into the conservative framework, Lakoff would remain an insightful and valuable read on the liberal perspective. Until that time, Lakoff will have to suffice for both.


Review #3

Audiobook Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think by George Lakoff

Moral Politics is quite simply an indispensable book for anyone interested in politics, especially those who consider themselves liberals and progressives. George Lakoff’s argument that conservative and liberal political identities are driven by moral concerns and vastly different models of the family jarred me when I first read it, However, it is the most coherent, and sensible explanation of politics that I have read thus far.
Although Lakoff does not hide the fact that he is a liberal, Moral Politics is focused on explaining where liberal and conservative ideology comes from, rather than on convincing us which one is “better.”

To understand the full impact of George Lakoff’s argument in Moral Politics, you must read his follow-up, Don’t Think of an Elephant.
In that work, Lakoff boldly asserts that Democrats have repeatedly lost elections over the past 35 or so years because of their failure to understand how morality influences voting behavior, and failure to find out, and appeal to voters’ moral sensibilities. Conservatives over this same period have been far more effective politically, Lakoff argues, because they are in touch with their moral values, and know how to communicate those values to voters-even when a voter may disagree with a conservative on a specific political issue.

Lakoff’s bottom line is that Democrats have much work to do. They must reconnect with the moral values that drive the liberal philosophy, and must stand relentlessly for those values without fear or self-doubt. The unmistakable message is that centrist politicians will not help the democratic party win elections because centrists are driven not by their values, but by what they think the consensus on a given issue is at a given time. Read together, Moral Politics and Don’t Think of an Elephant could not be more timely or important.


Review #4

Audio Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think narrated by Fajer Al-Kaisi

Ive just started reading this insightful book but I find tidbits of enlightenment often. The last two sentences in the acknowledgment section are perfect examples. To understand why liberals and conservatives are so different, give this book a good reading,


Review #5

Free audio Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think – in the audio player below

The persistent failure of conservatives and liberals in our government leadership to find common ground and compromise is a vital issue of our time. Lakoff’s analysis explains why neither side can understand the other, and thus, why they cannot see any virtue in the others’ positions or find common ground on many policies that demand a resolution.

I am not sure I buy into Lakoff’s analysis on all points, but he argues persuasively for the core ideas he proposes. Whether you are a conservative or a liberal, Lakoff will explain why some positions of the other side make sense to them even though a mystery to you. Maybe these insights provides a basis for understanding and communication that are a starting point to getting something done in Washington, and a starting point for more civil discussion with your friends who are of the opposite political persuasion.

But be patient. Lakoff is irritatingly repetative, apparently in a misguided effort to be clear and precise. It will take time and effort to wade through the book.


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