The only thing we have to fear is [Republican voters'] fear itself. Great Vox article on clashing
worldviews of Republican and Democratic voters.
In short, the Vox article (from December 2018) describes how Republican voters view the world as a scary place and see societal changes as highly threatening. Democrats see the world as safer and are not as threatened by societal changes, such as the changing demographics in the US.
Our political divisions arent red versus blue, but fixed versus fluid.
Of the many factors that make up your worldview, one is more fundamental than any other in determining which side of the divide you gravitate toward: your perception of how dangerous the world is. Fear is perhaps our most primal instinct, after all, so its only logical that peoples level of fearfulness informs their outlook on life.
Thats political scientists Marc Hetherington and Jonathan Weiler, writing in their book Prius or Pickup, which marshals a massive trove of survey data and experimental evidence to argue that the roots of our political divides run so deep that they make us almost incomprehensible to one another. Our political divisions, they say, arent about policy disagreements, or even demographics. Theyre about something more ancient in how we view the world. . . .
The ideological conflict that used to divide the parties was the size of government. The Democrats said bigger, the Republicans said smaller. Importantly, most Americans didnt have intense commitments on this question. In addition, party elites could compromise across it. Hence, the political conflict spawned by it wasnt rancorous most of the time.
That changed in the late 20th century, accelerating into the present day. The dividing line between the parties was no longer a philosophy about governing (a political ideology more or less government). It evolved into differences in philosophy about life (a worldview is the world a basically safe place to explore, or is it a dangerous snake pit to hunker down against).
If you think the world is dangerous, safety is always the No. 1 concern. When it comes to physical safety, letting your guard down against adversaries could be disastrous. If you think the world is safe, however, discriminating against groups that have generally been down the racial, gender, or sexual orientation hierarchy is the real sin.
The article goes on to explain why Republicans are so susceptible to right-wing propaganda and hate mongering:
The most likely reason would be a differential need for what psychologists call cognitive closure. Those we consider having fixed worldviews have a greater need for closure which suggests a greater need to avoid cognitive dissonance. They therefore are more likely to believe information that confirms their worldview. These differences may drive the supply of misinformation coming from political elites to some degree.
Whats for certain is that those who hate their opponents will be more willing to believe the worst about them. And Republican leaders have been bolder about exploiting that hatred of the other side than Democratic leaders have.
The article is not very optimistic about combatting Republican politicians' manipulation of their voters' fear, anger, and hatred, but suggests:
Long article, but worth the read:
I've long suspected that introversion, which results from a high degree of sensitivity to dopamine in the brain, is fairly highly correlated to openness - the ability to entertain new ideas, which is also indirectly a measure of brain plasticity.
There's a secondary effect within the amygdala that also comes into play. The amygdala is at the base of the brain and handles emotional responses, especially those related to fear. It releases dopamine as a fear response in order to help embed frightening memories and is essential in developing avoidance behaviors by making you remember what things frightened you - as well as for your brain to better remember why the situation was so frightening (it's part of the reason why scary dreams and memories can seem so vivid).
Extroverts, in general, require more dopamine in order to cause neurons to build up sufficient charge in the synapses to bridge what amounts to an air gap (which functions something like a spark plug or capacitor). This means two things. First - extroverts require more energy to get the endorphine rush that dopamine provides - not by a lot, mind you, but enough to be observable, and second that being in potentially fearful situations makes extroverts produce more dopamine than just about any other stimulus. Note that adrenaline and testosterone also enter into the mix. Both men and women produce both, but these are especially stimulated when people are in stressful situations, usually in preparation for battle.
Put another way, the more extroverted you are, the more likely that you become addicted to fear. Some become thrill-seekers, some become more violent or sadistic, some become psychopathic. I'm not sure you could say that they "like" feeling fearful, but it makes them feel more alive. Antisocial tendencies become exacerbated in the extremely extroverted precisely because these people are getting jonesed on getting caught.
Introverts work the other way. Introversion pathologies tend towards the autistic end of the spectrum. They are too sensitive to dopamine in any form - leaving them confused and exhausted but not necessarily fearful, and they have, over time, developed strategies to seek out quiet spaces and to minimize the impact of fearfulness. Ironically, this makes them more grounded and inclined towards considering alternatives before acting. Many introverts are characterized by seeming aloof, which is usually a coping mechanism that they use to keep emotions from overwhelming them, but it confuses the hell out of extroverts.
Progressives, by and large, are introverts, and Democrats overall are more introverted than Republicans, but there are obvious exceptions. The MAGAts are at the far fringe of extroversion - loud, impulsive, thrill-seeking, narcissistic, and with a desire to dominate others. They are generally resistant to change, seek out reinforcing messages that justify their worldview, and are incapable of taking responsibility for their actions. Instead, they project their guilt onto others, usually through the expression of religious extremism, conspiracy theories, and feelings of persecution.
The one point that I'd agree with in the article is that this relationship is asymmetric. The extreme extroverted worldview is very binary - you are either in the IN group or you are an enemy, and if you are an enemy, you are not fully human. Introverts are very alien to them. Introverts do not react in the same way, they have weird beliefs, dress strangely, they speak in very specialized tongues that make no sense to the extrovert, and they usually do not respect the trappings of power that extroverts build around themselves. It's why, if you look at an extreme extrovert's conception of "the elite", they always look like scientists. For introverts, this is confusing, because the "elites" to introverted minds are the wealthy and socially prominent.
I think you are absolutely right in your assessment of the extrovert versus introvert aspect of the current political divide. And I especially agree with your point that
This is a very apt description and explains so much, from the giant "Hippie Hater" stickers I see in many of the rear windows of pickup trucks here in Montana to the right's demonizing of Dr. Fauci, who appears to me to be a kind, intelligent, gentle, and compassionate man of science, but whom the right view as the embodiment of Satan himself.
It also helps explain why in 2000 Al Gore, being grounded, pragmatic, and analytical, conceded the election and he and the rest of us Dems (reluctantly) accepted the faulty election outcome, whereas in 2020, Trump and his supporters staged an insurrection rather than accept defeat. The election really was stolen in 2000, but for the sake of the country, Gore accepted the flawed SC decision for the sake of the country. The election really wasn't stolen in 2020, but neither Trump nor his supporters could believe any evidence contrary to their wrongly held belief about widespread voter fraud, and now the country is at risk of never coming together as one nation.
So, I guess the questions now are:
1. Many (most?) Republicans, like Trump, behave so much like the playground bully. How do we introverted Dems fight back against the bullies? For example, what will we introverted Dems do when Republicans succeed in overturning election results they don't like?
2. How do we get through the thick morass of cognitive dissonance that characterizes the extroverts on the right?