The Contentious Roots of Political Culture

Although I know a big football game was held yesterday, I haven’t a clue who won.  I know a team called Giants played some other team, but I have no idea who.  Unlike many of my fellow Americans, I do not follow football. Every now and then I work up enough enthusiasm to ‘sort of’ watch a Packer game.  I say sort of, because I am usually working on the computer while the game is on and David is shouting the score from the other room.  That is unless the Packers start to lose. Then he turns the TV off and finds something else to do. 

When I was a kid, it was different.  Although I never got interested in contact sports, I did like baseball. Like many kids, I chewed 3,000 penny packs of gum to collect baseball cards.  I played baseball with the boys just like the girl (Tatum O’Neil) in Bad News Bears. I was on my class softball team in high school, and wrote the women’s sports column for the high school paper.

My son Richard was a baseball fan too.  When he was younger, I brought him a baseball signed by Pete Rose.  After Pete was disgraced, my interest in baseball players as role models began to wane.  The spate of drug incidents in the past decade killed my enthusiasm for sports.  This was just as well, as I had no time for such frivolity.

So, what did David and I do while others watched football?  We read books.  You know those things with words printed on pages. David finished his book Fifteen Flags Over Siberia and I read one of my text books. We also both worked on our computers.

At 4:00 we watched Bill Moyers new TV program on PBS.  Yesterday, Bill hosted social psychologist, Jonathan Haidt from UVA, who discussed the contentious roots of our political culture. The fellow, who describes himself as a former Liberal and now a Centrist, was attempting to bridge the gap between the two extremes in American politics. I don’t know if he succeeded or not, but I asked David when the program was over if he understood what Haidt was saying, and he said “No.”  

If you are interested in installment 4 of Bill’s new show, you can see it by finding the Bill Moyers link (below).  Haidt has posted a test you can take to find out where you stand on the political spectrum regarding crime and punishment.  I suggest that if you take the test you read some of the comments left by fellow test takers after you review your results.

I took the test and discovered I was as traditional as Liberals and as progressive as Conservatives on the issue of crime.  But I already knew where I sat.  I am truly in the middle which is where I believe any thoughtful person will find themselves. That may be my bias, but I don’t like extremism of any kind. 

I would like to join company with the Liberals they seem to have more fun, but I can’t. Liberals are so sure they are right and I am not so sure. But who doesn’t want to be right about everything?  Although I find many  conservatives make off-putting remarks, I hear them out. I think they are not wrong all of the time, especially on economic matters. Thus even after I listened to Haidt, I ended up, as usual, sitting on the fence, a very uncomfortable place to be, especially as you grow older and have back issues. 

If you want to listen to Bill’s January 5 program and take the test, here is the link:  You can also find his earlier programs on this link.






16 thoughts on “The Contentious Roots of Political Culture

  1. I do love my sports but since my football team is not televised in Arkansas, I tend to root against instead of “for” in the super bowl. I was happy with the results this year.
    Now baseball is another thing. I am a bit fanatic and subscribe to MLB Extra Innings so I can watch my favorite team almost every day in the summer. Think I have gone round the bend there.


  2. I took the test. It was too vague; crimes and motives vary so widely that I could strongly agree and strongly disagree at the same time.

    I had to click ‘no opinion’ when what I meant was ‘not sure because it depends on context’.

    I learned I’m more liberal than I thought I was 🙂


    • Tilly, that was my thought too. Vague and I turned out to be both a Conservative and a Liberal. That makes me either a Liberative or a Conserval, not sure which. Maybe I belong in one of those newer countries in Africa??


  3. Nope, couldn’t find it. I got lost on the site.

    Yup, G and I followed in your footsteps. Just as we were leaving for the evening, I heard loud music and figured it was half time. 🙂


  4. Sorry, no spectator sports of any sort for me. Beloved watches all sorts but I have a room of my own, I don’t need to listen. Which is brilliant.

    I caught up on yesterday’s post. What did they find to complain about?


  5. I’m also usually found atop a political fence. When it’s a picket fence, the perch is especially uncomfortable. Nevertheless, I agree being at or near the center line makes the most sense for the good of all.


  6. Whenever the Super Bowl occurred at the same time as an opera, we always chose the SB, donating our opera tickets back to the box office. That’s how much we loved the SB and still do. Lucky for us, we haven’t had that dilemma lately, so all is good. We enjoyed yesterday’s game; it was fun!

    This year, the Republicans seem to put their foot in their mouth by siding with the wealthy. Romney: “I don’t worry about the poor.”

    Oh, come on! Even though the very poor have a safety net, what about those who are not very poor, but poor enough to do without many things we take for granted?


  7. I did not watch much of the game but enjoyed the commercials and wanted to see Madonna in the half time show. I wasn’t thrilled with the show, but to see a 53-year-old woman doing what she did – go girl! And it is an excuse to sit in the family room, relax, eat wings and not do anything else.


  8. I’m no use at sports on TV (except tennis) unless I watch with a fan who can explain the finer points. Just wanted to say the cartoon resonates perfectly with my mornings.


  9. I watched superbowl “sort of.” Was on my computer most of the time. The Mannings seem like hometown folks. Archie, the father of the current crop of Mannings was a University of Mississippi phenom. After he graduated wewatched him play for the New Orleans Saints.

    He was a good person, made some great plays but really never had a supporting cast. He did, however, capture the hearts of New Orleans citizens and is still highly esteemed. Giants quarterback Eli Manning was leading the Ole Miss Rebels during the years that our youngest son was a cheerleader at the university. It seems both his football-playing sons reflect their father’s ability to handle the spotlight with grace and generosity.

    I enjoy once again my mental pix of your political fence-perching. It is, however not unadulterated joy as the image also comes with the associated discomfort from those splinters and hard edges on all sides.


    • Linda, I know I am ignorant about football, but I have no idea who the Mannings are. It is good to know that some sports figures are not strung out on drugs and remain gracious. Unfortunately, the “bad” guys often get the spotlight.

      Yes, it is uncomfortable, but I don’t want to fall off in either direction. Kind of like navigating between Scylla and Charybdis


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