What Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind never quite gets across, Steve Sailer says, is that conservatives typically define their groups concentrically, moving from their families outward to their communities, classes, religions, nations, and so forth:
If Mars attacked, conservatives would be reflexively Earthist. As Ronald Reagan pointed out to the UN in 1987, “I occasionally think how quickly our differences worldwide would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside this world.” (Libertarians would wait to see if the Martian invaders were free marketeers.)
In contrast, modern liberals’ defining trait is making a public spectacle of how their loyalties leapfrog over some unworthy folks relatively close to them in favor of other people they barely know (or in the case of profoundly liberal sci-fi movies such as Avatar, other 10-foot-tall blue space creatures they barely know).
As a down-to-Earth example, to root for Manchester United’s soccer team is conservative…if you are a Mancunian. If you live in Portland, Oregon, it’s liberal.
This urge toward leapfrogging loyalties has less to do with sympathy for the poor underdog (white liberals’ traditional favorites, such as soccer and the federal government, are hardly underdogs) as it is a desire to get one up in status on people they know and don’t like.