Fearing the Other Party

A June 2016 poll by Pew shows what be might to some people – startling results. 49% of Republicans and 55% of Democrats are afraid of the other party. AFRAID! I am not, however, so shocked by these results. Here’s why.

It’s all about the values that are prioritized by those groups. Although it is not 100% true, I believe that an individual’s values and what they are sourced in that determines whether they are Republican or Democrat. Or more accurately liberals on the left or conservatives on the right. I think it is fair to say that in 2017, the divisions between these two parties are more than ever correctly defined that way.

There was a time when one could find a conservative Democrat. They were usually located in the South. And there were (and still are) some liberal Republicans that would feel quite comfortable as Democrats.  Adding to this phenomenon is the fact is extremists on both the right and the left  are pulling these parties further away from the center. (Creating an almost unbridgeable chasm.)

What are these values and where do they come from? I think one has to look at whether those values are based on whether one is God centered or Humanistic. I believe that what most motivates people on the right is how they see God looking at the issues of the day. And the people on the left are motivated by what they see as objectively best and fair for all of humankind.

This creates a clash of values. One that was recently demonstrated by a conflict between 2 constitutional guarantees.The constitution guarantees both freedom of religion and freedom of expression. When the two come into conflict the right will favor protecting religious freedom and the left will favor individual rights. That is what the debate about same sex marriage was all out.

The Supreme Court decided in favor of individual rights with the claim that it would not affect the religious rights of those that oppose same sex marriage. I don’t want to rehash the arguments made by ether side. But any fair minded person could see that it was a clash of rights and the decision to favor civil rights over religious rights is how a 5-4 split decision of the Supreme Court came about. The swing vote (Anthony Kennedy) determined the outcome should go to the left on that one. (He is one of those liberal Republicans I spoke of earlier.)

So why is there fear? If you are God centered, you see an erosion of traditional values. Values that are based on the bible. A bible that is considered the word of God by billions of people in the civilized world. A bible that has been the source of morality and righteousness for many centuries. They see the current Democrats as a  group of people that places little to no value on the bible. Which they see as irrelevant to modern man. The right is afraid of the heavenly consequences of what they see as a Godless society developing if the left keeps getting their way.

The left sees the right as a impediment to social justice. And patently unfair to human rights. To the left the right of a gay man to marry another gay man is an inherent right of the human condition. It views morality through the lens of a humanity that considers all human behavior perfectly fine as long as it does not infringe upon the rights of others. Religious objections are of little import when it comes to individual rights. They see man as ethically superior to the bible.

Why should a homosexual man be denied the right to do the same thing his heterosexual friends do? Just because someone’s religion says it is against God’s laws to live a certain way does not give them the right in a free society to deny a personal freedom. Society will not be harmed if 2 gay people can get married. The idea of a heavenly retribution is laughed off as an ancient relic of a superstitious past. Man’s moral and ethical responsibilities are towards their fellow man. God hardly enters into the equation.

The fear is that the other side will destroy civilization if their views are carried out to their fullest potential. The left will argue that religion is responsible for all the ills in the world – pointing to religion as the source of Islamist terror as a prime example. The right will say that when one takes God out of the picture, you can all toot easily end up with  genocide as government policy. As did Nazi Germany during the Holocaust. If here is no God, mass murder is just a survival tactic.

Now as I said earlier, there are plenty of exceptions. There are some very religious people on the left. But they tend to be more about helping one’s fellow man or protecting the environment – regardless of the cost – rationalizing away the moral objections made by the right on other issues. And by the same token there are some atheists on the right. But they tend to be fiscal conservatives rather than social conservatives. Which makes them more libertarian than Republican.

The financial component motivates a lot of people. The right believes that the economy will be ruined by the tax and spend ways of the left. And the left fears that the little guy will be stiffed by the right at many levels – Or that the environment will be destroyed by the right. The economy is at best a secondary consideration – and be damned if necessary! But I think that the divisions fall more along religious or philosophical lines than they do fiscal lines.

True, this all might be an oversimplification with plenty of exceptions. But I think that at its core, it is the truth. At least the way I see it.

About the Author
My worldview is based on the philosophy of my teacher, Rabbi Aaron Soloveichik , and the writings of Rabbis Joseph B. Soloveitcihk , Norman Lamm, and Dr. Eliezer Berkovits from whom I developed an appreciation for philosophy. I attended Telshe Yeshiva and the Hebrew Theological College where I was ordained. I also attended Roosevelt University where I received my degree in Psychology.