Republican Censures: Corruption or Correct Moral Accounting?
Is it just political expediency or do Cheney and Kinzinger truly deserve to be punished by conservative metrics?
It’s no secret that politicians on both sides of the aisle often do things of questionable integrity in order to achieve the results that they want. Sadly, this type of rationalization almost seems to be a part of the job. However, the Republican National Committee (RNC) may be seen by some to have taken that to a whole new level when they overwhelmingly voted on February 4, 2022, to censure Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for speaking out against the January 6th attack on the Capitol. As CNN reported:
“The move to censure Cheney, of Wyoming, and Kinzinger, of Illinois, is unprecedented, and marks the first time the national party has rebuked an incumbent congressional Republican — much less two — with a formal censure backed by its members. When the resolution was introduced Friday to all 168 RNC members, it was described as a motion “to no longer support [Cheney and Kinzinger] as members of the Republican Party.”
Although to some this looks like outrageous and even corrupt behavior, a fundamental aspect of core conservative beliefs is that when it comes to things that are “morally correct”, the end justifies the means. There is also a strong element of moral arithmetic in play, related both to obedience and legitimate authority. As cognitive linguist George Lakoff has pointed out, those on the right and the left don’t just have different views, they see the world through entirely different moral lenses.
Of course, we can’t lump the entire country into only two monolithic camps, but on a fundamental level, core conservative values fall under what Lakoff terms “strict father morality.” This is traditional and patriarchal, with a firm belief in hierarchy and obedience. By contrast, core liberal values tend to adhere to more of a “nurturant parent” model. (For more on the differences between the two, read here.)
On a societal scale, this translates into a belief in the rightness of a dominance-based hierarchy, law and order, self-sufficiency, and respect for authority. As Lakoff says in his book, Moral Politics: How Liberals and…