4 votes
Nov 9, 2015

The question can be taken in two ways: People who care (about other people), OR, People who care (about politics).

Not sure which way the question is meant to be taken, but I think it is a fascinating point to discuss, especially relating to Social Capital and what it means in a community. So, I am going to respond to the first option - regarding caring about other people.

Social capital is a term used to measure the amount of trust and cohesion within a given community. The more social capital, the better off the community, in almost every measure: better economy, better schools, less crime, more satisfaction with life etc.
In Jonathan Haidit's recent book "The Righteous Mind", he argues that conservatives in small, homogenous communities have more social capital than liberals in big cities. That makes sense, when everyone is more or less the same color and has the same culture, it is easy to develop social capital. People who relate to each other, care about each other more. The downside to this sort of social capital is that it is exclusionary. Right wing social capital is often based on an "us vs. them" mentality, and can easily devolve into tribalism, and a deep sense of mistrust for people who are 'other' - not in the 'like me' group.
Consider for a moment how difficult it is to create social capital in a diverse, urban setting. People are racially diverse, communities are multicultural, there is less obvious reasons for people to relate to each other. This is why Haidit argues that the conservative view provides better social capital, and hence success.
But consider this: multicultural, urban environments do create social capital, but they do it by being inclusive, instead of exclusive. Liberal mentalities work hard to make a place for everyone, to extend boundaries so that they encompass many differences within a given community. L
Liberals may seem to care more about people than conservatives, but consider that it may simply be a matter of grouping. Liberals care about more people *who are different than themselves* compared with conservatives, who do care about people, but only 'in-group' people.

I see the battle in U.S. politics being rooted in these basic identities. Social capital, or how much we care about ourselves as a collective, is different depending on who you talk with. For some people that circle of trust and relatedness extends only to immediate family, for others it includes others like themselves - in the same church, school, or ethnic group, and then, for some people it extends to all of humanity.

I think that the future can only bring more diversity, and more multiculturalism, therefore it is important to consider how we might embrace strategies that increase our inclusive type of social capital, rather than the polarizing 'us vs. them' type, which so far has led to government stagnation, and widespread mistrust among Americans.

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