Reading Palin’s “Going Rogue” & expanding the liberal moral imagination (Lederach & Wright)
I bought Sarah Palin’s new book, Going Rogue. As someone interested in moral confabulation, Sarah Palin is an a great case study. She has a very visceral intuitive sense of her own moral opinions (e.g. her opinion on Israeli settlements)…yet she often seems to have no preconceived notion of the source of those opinions. So when the press asks her for the reason for her opinions, she is bound to confabulate a reason more than most. A supporter of her might say that we all use intuitions to reason morally and so her gut level analysis is refreshingly honest. A detractor might say that this is evidence that she doesn’t have well reasoned opinions and that our gut is not always correct.
Robert Wright wrote a recent book about zero sum situations, of which politics definitely is one. One side wins and the other loses in every election. In these situations, our gut is going to lead us to demonize the other side, which often is a strategically bad thing to do. To combat this, he (and others like John Lederach) advocates actively exercising our moral imaginations. The idea is that we need to consider other viewpoints to combat our gut reactions to demonize the other side. That takes effort and willpower as our minds are wired to discount the opposing view on any issue. But sometimes understanding the other side is the only way to compromise and peace.
So I am going to try to read Palin’s book with an open mind and expand my liberal moral imagination. Maybe there are things we can agree upon or at least maybe I’ll learn something about conservative views that I can use. For example, 10 pages into it, I can certainly agree about the need to keep special interests (big oil) out of politics and it seems that will be a recurrent theme in the book. My partisan bias is to point out the special interests she caters to, but perhaps the more adaptive strategy is to take her words at face value. If I really expect conservatives to expand their moral imaginations to consider the perspective of the Muslim world, it would seem hypocritical to be equally unwilling to expand my own moral imagination.