Why Conservatives and Liberals Think Differently

It may be obvious that people who identify politically as liberals and conservatives think differently because they disagree on issues ranging from immigration to climate change policy. But what are the deeper psychological roots that drive their political beliefs? In the aftermath of the federal election, the Agenda explores the conservative mind vs. the liberal mind.

the first place Rob well you’ve got the
floor let’s just dive a little deeper
here on some of the work that you’ve
done comparing the moral beliefs of
conservatives and liberals and let’s
start with this to what extent do you
think people on the right and the left
live in different moral worlds yeah I
think that I think there’s a lot of
truth in that there’s pretty robust
finding in the political psychology
literature that liberals tend to endorse
and and deploy moral values like
protecting people from harm
empathy fairness and equality more than
servus do while conservatives deploy
moral values like

  1. group loyalty
  2. patriotism
  3. respect for authority and
  4. moral purity and sanctity

more than then
liberals do and we find that you know
when they go to make the case for those
specific political positions liberals
and conservatives tend to rely on these
their their respective moral values but
this can often lead them to make to make
cases for their politics that don’t
resonate with the other side might not
even be legible to someone on the other
side well that’s lorilynn you’re hearing
yeah let me follow up on that no I do I
want to do two quick follow-ups with you
right here because give us a for
instance if a liberal we’re trying to
change a conservatives mind about for
example climate change what would be the
better arguments to Marshall given what
you’ve just told us
yeah our research suggests that a
conservative might be more responsive to
an argument about the environment or
climate change if it was articulated in
terms of purity sanctity and pollutants
being disgusting D sanctifying human
bodies and and nature
that that’s sort
of a message because it fits with the
conservative value of moral purity we
find tends to be more effective than a
more conventional argument that a
liberal would be more likely to make in
terms of the need to protect vulnerable
ecosystems from from harm which doesn’t
tend to move the needle at least among
conservative and let’s do the other side
of the coin what about a conservative
trying to impress upon a liberal the
importance of let’s say military
spending something like that yeah so we
also find that this principle that if
you want to make an effective political
appeal you ought to think very carefully
about the person you’re communicating
with moral values and deeply all beliefs
we find it applies in both directions so
if you were trying to convince a liberal
to support high levels of military
spending it might not make a lot of
sense to make an argument in terms of
patriotism and the authoritative power
of the American military and instead you
might think well how could I tie this in
with liberal concerns about equal
opportunity and so we found that
an appeal that emphasized that the
military is a place where the poor and
minorities can achieve on a more level
playing field than in the you know the
open society that that’s sort of an
appeal LED liberals to say oh maybe
maybe I do support high levels of
military spending because they can it
helps the poor and minorities advance in
society hmm this potentially potentially
Paul opens the door to well who knows
everybody’s in their respective corners
right now in the boxing ring that is you
know the world today and I wonder if the
arguments could be reframed so that
people could speak a little could speak
to conservatives in a language that they
would appreciate better and vice versa
could you reduce polarization in the
world I think you can I think rob has
some excellent ideas now to do it I also
think we could we don’t have to give up
on idea of focusing on our common ground
so it’s true that conservatives in some
ways focus much more on groups and
issues of patriotism and nationalism but
liberals are no stranger to calls for
identity and group identity in fact
identity politics focusing on your
ethnicity or your gender your sexual
orientation is very much of an explicit
focus of a lot of liberal thoughts so in
some way they’re speaking the same
language they’re just talking about
different things and there’s something
else as well regarding reconciliation
and agreement which is I think by nature
by inclination by how we think there’s
an enormous amount of overlap between
liberals and conservatives but in the
hurly-burly political world and social
media there was a huge split of us
versus them where all of a sudden being
a liberal I’m not responding to a
certain claim or idea based on how I
naturally react to it but I is it is it
from my team or is it from your team
there’s a lot of research finding that
if you give people an idea cap-and-trade
a response to climate change
funding for private schools and you tell
them this is a liberal idea or this is a
conservative idea they react very
differently to it your study after study
finding people don’t even care about the
idea they just care about is it my team
or is it your team
and if we could rid
political discourse of that or at least
diminish it we do
much much better well Becky let’s do an
example of something you’ve studied
fracking tell us the story so I think
that this speaks to Rob suggestion of
how to play to people’s morality and
having this kind of discussion so we
examined people’s favorability towards
hydraulic fracturing and the degree to
which they thought this was risky and we
found that people who are higher in
political conservatism were more
favorable towards hydraulic fracturing
and they saw it as less risky

we also measured knowledge about
fracking and people that knew more about
it had less favorable attitudes
about it
and they thought it’s more risky
however conservatives that knew more
about hydraulic fracturing for them they
had even more favorable attitudes and so
it is even less favorable than
conservatives that didn’t know a lot
about it and you find this same pattern
when you look at climate change so this
kind of goes against this notion that if
we just educate other people and they
know more and they’re more aware of
these issues they’ll get what I think
and they’ll be on board with my attitude
or the way that I see the world
that’s not what happens you have another
question yeah do you think I don’t know
if you’ve done this but do you think
have you told a group of conservatives a
group of liberals and saying you know
what do you think of fracking and let me
tell you this Bernie Sanders Elizabeth
Warren one thing they agree on is we
need more fracking of this type it’s
very important it’s important for their
environment or to help American business
to increase minority access to jobs do
you think being told that would sway
their views I think it depends on who it
is so people that don’t know as much
about politics and don’t have that kind
of firm identity or just knowledgeable
for them it could sway them but for
people that are very knowledgeable at
these things they understand what
defines a conservative position and a
liberal position it’s not going to sway
them so I think that political identity
in belonging to these groups is really
important in dictating our beliefs or
attitudes how we vote but it’s not the
only thing and I worry sometimes that we
overstate it so I think it depends on
the person and I think it depends on the
context so in an American context right
now where the stakes are really high you
can see how people might be more apt to
kind of be like okay I can give that up
right now even it’s important to me
because I want my team to win but kind
of under normal circumstances or less
high threat or high stakes situations it
shouldn’t have the same kind of impact I
mean living in a state in the age of
very much in a high polarization time
there is a study that was recently done
which ask people about cap and trade
what do you think of cap and trade and
people had very strong views about it
then they asked them another question
what is cap and trade and I gotta say I
like I’m not I have found myself
exposing strong views and realizing I
don’t know that much I just know what
views I’m supposed to have yeah I’m
still waiting for the moment where there
where the conservative person says wait
a second Bernie Sanders and Liz Warren
are in favor of fracking date you don’t
think anybody would say that they would
be surprised they would be surprised
indeed if they were to say that okay
let’s um yeah
apropos of my team is better than yours
let’s go on to this in today’s polarized
world is it simply okay Rob you start
with this is it simply more important
okay for for for people to say I’m with
my team I don’t care I’m not
influenceable by facts I don’t care what
the facts say loyalty to my team is all
what it’s about
nowadays right yeah I
think there’s a lot of evidence for that
and I think that what we see when we
look at trends and polarization in the
US over the last 40 years or so and this
is in the general public mind you that
you don’t see as much of ideological
polarization wherein people are clumping
around coherent ideological worldviews
because people are kind of they’re a
little bit disorganized in in their
thoughts they don’t spend all their time
thinking and talking about politics and
those who do they are very ideological
on average but what we see very clearly
is this rising antipathy across party
lines where Democrats and Republicans
you know increasingly dislike the
political out group and favor their own
in-group over the last 40 years or so
and if you look for like well what what
sparked all this I think that the
biggest thing that sparked it was that
at the elite level elected politicians
Congress people the president and so on
they polarized first they separated
along party lines and became
ideologically distinct you know by the
or so in a way that was not so much
the case in the 50s and
once that happened it became easier to
say okay no I really am a Democrat
because I’m a liberal and I really am
not like those other people and in fact
I really dislike them but when things
were a little more mixed up in terms of
what Democrats Republicans believed as
was the case in the 50s it was harder to
hate the other side cuz they were not so
clearly different from from your own
Becky let me let me pursue with you the
notion about whether or not we are less
polarized in Canada than they are in the
United States basically everybody who
gets elected down there is a Democrat or
a Republican basically I mean you got a
few independents along the way but
basically that’s it we just had an
election which is going to send liberals
and conservatives and New Democrats and
block East’s and greens to our federal
parliament and the People’s Party even
they didn’t win any seats but they got a
bunch of votes what does that say I
think there’s several things that are
going on I think we’re not immune to the
kind of quote/unquote tribalism that’s
happening south of the border but I
think that we have some buffers in the
sense that we have a multi-party system
now if any one of those parties should
gain more popularity to kind of lose
some of those I think we would be in
greater danger of having this kind of us
versus them mentality and I think that
still exists here but it’s difficult to
have that to the same extreme because we
have more than one party so there’s
multiple people kind of vying for power
how accurate do you think the view that
conservatives have of liberals and vice
all is yeah there’s been a lot of work
on this and and there are two things one
thing is that psychologists are always
interesting everybody’s interested in
bias against against women against black
people against gays and their subtle
measures of this but the bias is we have
at least in the states towards the other
political team are anything but subtle
they’re powerful people to say if you’re
a Republican I don’t want to see a
Democrat I don’t want my kid to marry a
Democrat and then you get to kick the
question of accuracy so when you ask
people about other groups let me ask you
some questions about about gay people
about women it turns out a lot of
studies have been done showing that to
bet people have a pretty good perception
of the other group what jobs they tend
to have all sorts of other factors about
them but this goes to garbage
when you ask people politics so Liberals
have very confused ideas about
conservatives and conservatives very
confused ideas about liberals and what
happens is that this sort of tribalism
we’re talking about distorts our
thinking if you’re my worst enemy in the
world I’m not gonna think about you in
an objective fashion I’m gonna pile upon
you every stupid and ugly attitude and
and and you know if if if not it’s not
hard to see that this is not a good
thing politically and maybe this is why
Canadian politics which doesn’t have too
strict you know either-or dichotomy that
American politics has is less vicious
than American politics so a lot less
interesting too the last time you were
on this program and in fact I can see
your book on the Shelf right over there
we talked about your book about empathy
and so I’m going to facetiously say to
you right now because I know what your
answer is gonna be more empathy would
help this right well I’m not gonna say
yes come on I’m sighs you to say yes I’m
sure will surprise me which is it
depends what you mean by empathy so so
one sort of empathy which means feeling
the pain of others feeling the suffering
of others a study came out last week
which is causing a lot of play which
finds that the more empathy you have of
that sort the the more you hate the
other group why because you devote all
that feeling and empathy towards your
own group it makes you more tribal on
the other hand there’s another sort of
empathy which the most understanding
people perspective taking and I think
that is mostly for the good I think that
that you know if I if I was I was a
Hillary voter I don’t need to put myself
in the shoes of a trump voter but I
should try to understand why they voted
for Trump among other things if I want
my side to win the next time it sure
helps to know why why I didn’t win last
time just a few minutes to go here and
let me get Jonathan Hyde into this
conversation and the social psychologist
recently had this to say left and right
are like yin and yang both see different
threats push in different directions and
protect different things that matter and
that are at risk of getting trampled by
the other side okay bigger picture here
do liberals and conservatives need each
other in some way less their own
impulses turn inward and destructive
so I’d say on a macro level that is
probably beneficial to have a diverse
pool of ideological outlooks
I think anything in the extreme could
kind of lead us down a dangerous path
and I think there’s many examples of
very extreme right-wing or left-wing
governments around the world the kind of
plate of that to illustrate kind of the
dangers I think having a sort of push
each other back and forth and keep us in
check again on a macro level is probably
beneficial on the whole Rob I disagree
with everything you say but damn it all
I need you is that what we’re saying i I
you know I think there’s a lot of truth
in that I think ideological diversity
can help groups make better I’d you know
better decisions and come up with more
different possibly better ideas I also
think that an ideologically pluralistic
society is a difficult one to steer
effectively because it’s disposed to
creating these sort of tribal
so if I have deeply different views on
things that matter a lot from you in an
ideal world we get together we you know
we come up with a way to get all the
advantages out of that and none of the
weaknesses but I think there is also a
very strong tendency for us to decide
that we are fundamentally different and
our differences are irreconcilable
because they go all the way down to our
bones to our values and so I have a
little bit less of a rosy picture of
moral pluralism Paul last thirty Seconds
to you we know that when political
parties want to raise money all they do
is put every alleged sin of their
opponents in those letters and they just
watch the shekels come in we’re kind of
doomed in this regard aren’t we we have
our worst instincts and people there’s a
lot of money and votes and power in
exaggerating the differences that exist
between these groups but I I agree with
with these other guys on pluralism is
what we should we just aspire for as
voters and as individuals authoritarians
on both sides will try to shut that down
they’ll try to shut down free speech
they’ll try to shut down communication
and I think we have a sort of moral duty
liberals and conservatives both to to
try to listen and try to try to get
together and try to be pluralistic in
the best of all possible ways amen
that’s a great place to leave it I want
to thank all three of you for coming out
of TVO tonight Rob will are at Stanford
University in California
Becky Toma from Ryerson University
in toronto Paul bloom from Yale
University in New Haven Connecticut it’s
great to have all of you on TV Oh
tonight thanks so much thank you
the agenda with Steve Paikin is brought
to you by the chartered professional
accountants of Ontario CPA Ontario is a
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thank you

Freakonomics Radio Live: “Would You Eat a Piece of Chocolate Shaped Like Dog Poop?” (Ep. 372)

DUBNER: Jody Avirgan, David Pizarro has been telling us about the politics of disgust, which are really interesting, and lead to a lot of interesting thoughts and questions. Anything factual we should know?

AVIRGAN: This isn’t exactly a fact check. But I do want to go back to how you actually measure disgust. You ask people about hypothetical scenarios, and ask them to rate how disgusted they were. Do you trust that?

PIZARRO: That’s one way. Other people have done the work of correlating—

AVIRGAN: Of actually disgusting people in real time — love it.

PIZARRO: Of actually disgusting people. So they’ve brought people into the lab and they’ve asked them to do really gross but safe things. So, would you eat a piece of chocolate shaped like dog poop?


DUBNER: I think Angela’s answer says less about her liberalism than about her chocolate attitude.

PIZARRO: That may be right. And that’s why it’s a noisy measure.

The roots of male rage, on show at the Kavanaugh hearing

American men do have genuine reasons for anxiety. The traditional jobs that many men have filled are disappearing, thanks to automation and outsourcing. The jobs that remain require, in most cases, higher education, which is increasingly difficult for non-affluent families to afford. We should indeed tremble for the future of both men and women in our country unless we address that problem, and related problems of declining health and well-being for working-class men.

.. Three emotions, all infused by fear, play a role in today’s misogyny. The most obvious is anger — at women making demands, speaking up, in general standing in the way of unearned male privilege. Women were once good mothers and good wives, props and supports for male ambition, the idea goes –but here they are asserting themselves in the workplace. Here they are daring to speak about their histories of sexual abuse at the hands of powerful men. It’s okay for women to charge strangers with rape, especially if the rapist is of inferior social status. But to dare to accuse the powerful is to assail a bastion of privilege to which men still cling.

.. Coupled with anger is envy. All over the world, women are seeing unprecedented success in higher education, holding a majority of university seats. In our nation many universities quietly practice affirmative action for males with inferior scores, to achieve a “gender balance” that is sometimes dictated by commitment to male sports teams, given Title IX’s mandate of proportional funding.

.. But men still feel that women are taking “their” places in college classes, in professional schools.

.. Envy, propelled by fear, can be even more toxic than anger, because it involves the thought that other people enjoy the good things of life which the envier can’t hope to attain through hard work and emulation. Envy is the emotion of Aaron Burr in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton”

.. And then, beneath the hysteria, lurks a more primitive emotion: disgust at women’s animal bodies.

.. In the United States, we observe this dynamic in racism, in homophobia and even in revulsion toward the bodies of people who are aging. But in every culture male disgust targets women, as emblems of bodily nature, symbolic animals by contrast to males, almost angels with pure minds.

.. Disgust for women’s bodily fluids is fully compatible with sexual desire. Indeed, it often singles out women seen as promiscuous, the repositories of many men’s fluids.

.. as with the apparent defamation of Renate Dolphin in Kavanaugh’s infamous yearbook, men often crow with pride over intercourse with a woman imagined as sluttish and at the same time defame and marginalize her.

.. Disgust is often more deeply buried than envy and anger, but it compounds and intensifies the other negative emotions.

.. Our president seems to be especially gripped by disgust: for women’s menstrual fluids, their bathroom breaks, the blood imagined streaming from their surgical incisions, even their flesh, if they are more than stick-thin.

U.S. Officials ‘at a Fucking Loss’ Over Latest Russia Sellout

Current and former American diplomats are expressing disgust and horror over the White House’s willingness to entertain permitting Russian officials to question a prominent former U.S. ambassador.

.. “It’s beyond disgraceful. It’s fundamentally ignorant with regard to how we conduct diplomacy or what that means. It really puts in jeopardy the professional independence of diplomats anywhere in the world, if the consequence of their actions is going to be potentially being turned over to a foreign government,”

.. During President Trump’s press conference with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Putin pivoted a question about extraditing the 12 Russian intelligence officers whom Robert Mueller has indicted into a quid pro quo for going after longtime betes noire currently beyond his reach.

.. Putin singled out Bill Browder, whose exposure of widespread Russian tax fraud led to the passage of a U.S. human rights sanctions law Putin hates. Standing next to Trump, the Russian president accused Browder of masterminding an illegal campaign contribution to Hillary Clinton and alleging vaguely that he had “solid reason to believe that some intelligence officers guided these transactions.” Should Trump permit the Russians to question people around Browder, Putin hinted, he will let Mueller’s people be “present at questioning” of the intelligence officers.

.. On Wednesday, Russian prosecutors escalated the stakes. The prosecutor-general’s office said it wanted to interview Michael McFaul, the former U.S. ambassador to Russia, another Putin bete noire. McFaul—the Obama-era ambassador to Moscow—replied on Twitter that the Russians know well that he wasn’t even in Russia during the relevant time frame for any case against Browder.
.. Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to rule out permitting the Russians to question McFaul. Sanders said that there had been “some conversation” in Helsinki about the issue, though Trump made no “commitment.”
.. Heather Nauert called the Russian request for McFaul “absolutely absurd”—which was closer in line with how former U.S. diplomats viewed Putin’s gambit.If the U.S. would make a former diplomat avail for questioning by a foreign government without evidence of wrongdoing, then that would be quite horrifying,” said Ron Neumann,
.. Susan Rice, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and Barack Obama’s national security adviser, tweeted that the lack of commitment to protecting McFaul was “beyond outrageous.
.. If the White House cannot defend and protect our diplomats, like our service members, they are serving a hostile foreign power not the American people.”
.. “To even hint that there’s some element of credibility to Russian disruptions and distractions puts a bullseye on the back of any diplomat and invites authoritarian regimes to bully and threaten American public servants for the crime of doing their job
.. Ned Price, a former CIA analyst and spokesman for the Obama National Security Council, said Sanders’ comments made Trump look “even weaker” than during Trump’s Monday press conference with Putin. “Trump has always been all too eager to cave to Putin, but, as far as we know, it’d been largely in the abstract. He sells out our intelligence community, attacks NATO, shelves our commitment to human rights. But Putin now has specific demands in the form of human beings—one of them formerly our designated representative to Russia,” Price said.
.. “By failing to reject the idea out of hand – immediately and forcefully – Trump signaled that absolutely nothing is off limits when it comes to Putin. And just as shocking, he’s willing to play Putin’s brand of ball, in which the world is purely transactional and lives are expendable.”
.. The current U.S. diplomat said the openness to turning over McFaul capped off a shocking week for U.S. geopolitics.
.. The president has first and foremost his interests at the top of his mind, as opposed to the government’s. That’s very clear over the past week and a half, between shitting on our NATO allies and kissing Putin’s ass,” the diplomat said. “He cares more about himself than the nation and any of us who serve it.”The diplomat continued: “Either he’s compromised by Putin or he’s a pussy, in which case he should grab himself.”

Macron-Trump, a Friendship That Must Deliver

I hear that they speak all the time. Trump follows Macron’s labor-market reforms and calls to congratulate him. The first state visit of his administration will be Macron’s to Washington next month, a special honor for “a great guy.” The French president is Trump’s best friend in Europe ..

.. Both understood the fact that voters were bored as well as angry, mistrustful of the liberal consensus, angry at globalization’s predations, restive for grandeur, thirsty for the outspoken rather than the dutiful warnings of experts.

.. Both men came from nowhere, mavericks hoisted to the highest offices of their lands by a wave of disgust at politics-as-usual. They are, in their way, accidents of history, thrust to power at the passing of an era. Longing for disruption produced these two disrupters.

.. Macron, who at 40 could be Trump’s son, has honed a grandiose theater of the center, thereby giving centrist politics new vigor at a time of extremist temptation. He’s tough on immigration because he knows his survival depends on it. Trump’s is the theater of the zigzagging bully, nonstop noise often drowning out meaning. For both men, movement and action are essential.

.. Gaullist pomp, shunned by Macron’s predecessor, is back. If that’s what it takes to defeat the racist National Front, bring it on. Macron celebrated his victory last year with an address to the French people at the Louvre, greeted Putin at Versailles

.. “It’s not ‘Make France Great Again’ — except that it is, sort of,” a French friend observed.

08 – Jonathan Haidt on Morality, Politics, Disgust, and Intellectual Diversity on Campus

6 Moral Taste Buds:

  • liberty vs oppression
  • loyalty vs diversity
  • authority
  • openness
  • conscientiousness

Diversity leads to clashing ideas (26 min)

The military deals with diverse members by creating uniformity.

Colleges do not pump out graduating classes that go out and do great things as a unit.

Social Sciences: Pursue Social Justice and Victims

Extremism in pursuit of any Virtue is a Vice (49 min)

Once you make helping the poor/African americans a religion you are

God’s Plan for Mike Pence

Will the vice president—and the religious right—be rewarded for their embrace of Donald Trump?

Casting himself as the heir to the popular outgoing governor, Mitch Daniels, he avoided social issues and ran on a pragmatic, business-friendly platform. He used Ronald Reagan as a political style guru and told his ad makers that he wanted his campaign commercials to have “that ‘Morning in America’ feel.” He meticulously fine-tuned early cuts of the ads, asking his consultants to edit this or reframe that or zoom in here instead of there.

.. set about cutting taxes and taking on local unions—burnishing a résumé that would impress Republican donors and Iowa caucus-goers. The governor’s stock began to rise in Washington

..  In recent years, the religious right had been abruptly forced to pivot from offense to defense in the culture wars—abandoning the “family values” crusades and talk of “remoralizing America,” and focusing its energies on self-preservation.

..“Many evangelicals were experiencing the sense of an almost existential threat,” Russell Moore, a leader of the Southern Baptist Convention, told me.

It was only a matter of time, he said, before cultural elites’ scornful attitudes would help drive Christians into the arms of a strongman like Trump. “I think there needs to be a deep reflection on the left about how they helped make this happen.”

.. Coming into the game, Trump had formed an opinion of the Indiana governor as prudish, stiff, and embarrassingly poor, according to one longtime associate.

.. Pence asked what his job description would be if they wound up in the White House together. Trump gave him the same answer he’d been dangling in front of other prospective running mates for weeks: He wanted “the most consequential vice president ever.” Pence was sold.

.. “I knew they would enjoy each other’s company,” Conway told me, adding, “Mike Pence is someone whose faith allows him to subvert his ego to the greater good.”

.. Pence spent much of their time on the course kissing Trump’s ring. You’re going to be the next president of the United States, he said. It would be the honor of a lifetime to serve you.

Afterward, he made a point of gushing to the press about Trump’s golf game. “He beat me like a drum,” Pence confessed, to Trump’s delight.

.. Trump released a list of potential Supreme Court nominees with unimpeachably pro-life records and assembled an evangelical advisory board composed of high-profile faith leaders.

.. One of the men asked to join the board was Richard Land, of the Southern Evangelical Seminary. When the campaign approached him with the offer, Land says, he was perplexed. “You do know that Trump was my last choice, right?” he said. But he ultimately accepted, and when a campaign aide asked what his first piece of advice was, he didn’t hesitate: “Pick Mike Pence.”

.. Then, on July 12, a miracle: During a short campaign swing through Indiana, Trump got word that his plane had broken down on the runway, and that he would need to spend the night in Indianapolis. With nowhere else to go, Trump accepted an invitation to dine with the Pences.

.. In fact, according to two former Trump aides, there was no problem with the plane. Paul Manafort, who was then serving as the campaign’s chairman, had made up the story to keep the candidate in town an extra day and allow him to be wooed by Pence.

.. Pence spoke of Trump in a tone that bordered on worshipful. One of his rhetorical tics was to praise the breadth of his running mate’s shoulders. Trump was, Pence proclaimed, a “broad-shouldered leader,” in possession of “broad shoulders and a big heart,” who had “the kind of broad shoulders” that enabled him to endure criticism while he worked to return “broad-shouldered American strength to the world stage.”

.. Campaign operatives discovered that anytime Trump did something outrageous or embarrassing, they could count on Pence to clean it up. “He was our top surrogate by far,”

.. “He was this mild-mannered, uber-Christian guy with a Midwestern accent telling voters, ‘Trump is a good man; I know what’s in his heart.’ It was very convincing—you wanted to trust him.

.. Even some of Trump’s most devoted loyalists marveled at what Pence was willing to say. There was no talking point too preposterous, no fixed reality too plain to deny

.. When, during the vice-presidential debate, in early October, he was confronted with a barrage of damning quotes and questionable positions held by his running mate, Pence responded with unnerving message discipline, dismissing documented facts as “nonsense” and smears.

.. It was the kind of performance—a blur of half-truths and “whatabout”s and lies—that could make a good Christian queasy.

.. Marc Short, a longtime adviser to Pence and a fellow Christian, told me that the vice president believes strongly in a scriptural concept evangelicals call “servant leadership.” The idea is rooted in the Gospels, where Jesus models humility by washing his disciples’ feet and teaches, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave.”

..  when he accepted the vice-presidential nomination, he believed he was committing to humbly submit to the will of Donald Trump. “Servant leadership is biblical,” Short told me. “That’s at the heart of it for Mike, and it comes across in his relationship with the president.”

.. “His faith teaches that you’re under authority at all times.

  • Christ is under God’s authority,
  • man is under Christ’s authority,
  • children are under the parents’ authority,
  • employees are under the employer’s authority.”

.. “Mike,” he added, “always knows who’s in charge.”

.. On friday, october 7, 2016, The Washington Post published the Access Hollywood tape

.. Most alarming to the aides and operatives inside Trump Tower, Mike Pence suddenly seemed at risk of going rogue.

.. Republican donors and party leaders began buzzing about making Pence the nominee and drafting Condoleezza Rice as his running mate.

.. The furtive plotting, several sources told me, was not just an act of political opportunism for Pence. He was genuinely shocked by the Access Hollywood tape. In the short time they’d known each other, Trump had made an effort to convince Pence that—beneath all the made-for-TV bluster and bravado—he was a good-hearted man with faith in God. On the night of the vice-presidential debate, for example, Trump had left a voicemail letting Pence know that he’d just said a prayer for him. The couple was appalled by the video, however. Karen in particular was “disgusted,” says a former campaign aide. “She finds him reprehensible—just totally vile.

.. Pence turns to a favorite passage in Jeremiah: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

.. “They thought they were going to be able to get him to drop out before the second debate,” said a former campaign aide. “Little did they know, he has no shame.”

.. Trump showed up in St. Louis for the debate with a group of Bill Clinton accusers in tow, ranting about how Hillary’s husband had done things to women that were far worse than his own “locker-room talk.”

.. In political circles, there had been a widespread, bipartisan recognition that Pence was a decent man with a genuine devotion to his faith. But after watching him in 2016, many told me, they believed Pence had sold out.

.. watching Pence vouch for Trump made him sad. “Ah, Mike,” he sighed. “Ambition got the best of him.” It’s an impression that even some of Pence’s oldest friends and allies privately share.

.. “The number of compromises he made to get this job, when you think about it, is pretty staggering.”

.. Pastor Ralph Drollinger, for example, caught Trump’s attention in December 2015, when he said in a radio interview, “America’s in such desperate straits—especially economically—that if we don’t have almost a benevolent dictator to turn things around, I just don’t think it’s gonna happen through our governance system.” Now Drollinger runs a weekly Bible study in the West Wing.

.. On one side, there are those who argue that good Christians are obligated to support any leader, no matter how personally wicked he may be, who stands up for religious freedom and fights sinful practices such as abortion. Richard Land told me that those who withhold their support from Trump because they’re uncomfortable with his moral failings will “become morally accountable for letting the greater evil prevail.”

.. On the other side of the debate is a smaller group that believes the Christians allying themselves with Trump are putting the entire evangelical movement at risk. Russell Moore, of the Southern Baptist Convention, has made this case forcefully.

.. only 30 percent of white evangelicals believed “an elected official who commits an immoral act in their personal life can still behave ethically and fulfill their duties in their public and professional life.”

.. One pastor compared Pence to Mordechai, who ascended to the right hand of a Persian king known for throwing lavish parties and discarding his wife after she refused to appear naked in front of his friends.

.. Pastor Mark Burns—a South Carolina televangelist who was among the first to sign on as a faith adviser to Trump—told me Pence’s role in the administration is like that of Jesus, who once miraculously calmed a storm that was threatening to sink the boat

.. Of the 15 Cabinet secretaries Trump picked at the start of his presidency, eight were evangelicals. It was, gushed Ted Cruz, “the most conservative Cabinet in decades.”

.. Pence understood the price of his influence. To keep Trump’s ear required frequent public performances of loyalty and submission—and Pence made certain his inner circle knew that enduring such indignities was part of the job.

.. “Look, I’m in a difficult position here,” Pence said, according to someone familiar with the meeting. “I’m going to have to 100 percent defend everything the president says. Is that something you’re going to be able to do if you’re on my staff?”

.. Trump does not always reciprocate this respect. Around the White House, he has been known to make fun of Pence for his religiosity.

.. During a conversation with a legal scholar about gay rights, Trump gestured toward his vice president and joked, “Don’t ask that guy—he wants to hang them all!”

..  “They have moved to an ends-justifies-the means style of politics that would have been unimaginable before this last campaign.”

.. he thought it was so low class,” says the adviser. “He thinks the Pences are yokels.”

.. Social conservatives had been lobbying the president to issue a sweeping executive order aimed at carving out protections for religious organizations and individuals opposed to same-sex marriage, premarital sex, abortion, and transgender rights. The proposed order was fairly radical, but proponents argued that it would strike a crucial blow against the militant secularists trying to drive the faithful out of the public square.

.. “Bannon wanted to fight for it,” says the Trump associate, “and he was really unimpressed that Pence wouldn’t do anything.”

.. But perhaps Pence was playing the long game—weighing the risks of taking on Trump’s kids, and deciding to stand down in the interest of preserving his relationship with the president.

.. What would a Pence presidency look like? To a conservative evangelical, it could mean a glorious return to the Christian values upon which America was founded. To a secular liberal, it might look more like a descent into the dystopia of The Handmaid’s Tale.

.. What critics should worry about is not that Pence believes in God, but that he seems so certain God believes in him. What happens when manifest destiny replaces humility, and the line between faith and hubris blurs? What unseemly compromises get made? What means become tolerable in pursuit of an end?

.. Trump’s order merely made it easier for pastors to voice political opinions from the pulpit—a conspicuously self-serving take on religious freedom.

.. The faith leaders pulled out their smartphones and snapped selfies, intoxicated by the VIP treatment. “Mr. President,” Robert Jeffress, the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, said at one point, “we’re going to be your most loyal friends. We’re going to be your enthusiastic supporters. And we thank God every day that you’re the president of the United States.”

.. “I’ve been with [Trump] alone in the room when the decisions are made. He and I have prayed together,” Pence said. “This is somebody who shares our views, shares our values, shares our beliefs.” Pence didn’t waste time touting his own credentials. With this crowd, he didn’t need to. Instead, as always, he lavished praise on the president.