The political form of altruism doesn't work the same way. One of the major differences is that you can gain moral credit without personally sacrificing. The 'sacrifice' can be assigned to others and spread across large groups. A politician who proposes and passes a new welfare program can gain the moral credit of helping others while distributing all or most of the cost to others.
This is why Hillary Clinton can propose that the wealthy sacrifice to help those less well off, but put no money in the fast food place's tip jar. This is why the amount given to charity tends to be lower among progressives than conservatives. This is why those calling for political altruism see those who object as hated enemies. After all, those people objecting are standing in the progressive's 'moral' well-being. A vocal supporter of capitalism, in their view, is endangering their chance of gaining moral credits.
...politicians are still given moral credit for programs they create without the slightest sacrifice. And since their jobs are dependent on votes, they actually benefit.
There is a tie-in here to Black Liberation Theology which holds that moral salvation is collective. For example, Reverend Wright feels that until we have collectively adopted the 'proper' beliefs, that we cannot be saved from eternal damnation. That kind of belief would make those with contrary beliefs real enemies - taking away 'moral credit' in the here-and-now as well as damning everyone to the loss of eternal salvation. And, there is always the risk that the very scheme of getting altruistic moral credit without having to make a personal sacrifice might be in danger if the opposition isn't demonized.
Proposing an altruistic scheme gets some 'moral credit', even more if it is pushed hard, and if its opponents are demonized, but the largest amount of this 'moral credit' comes if it passes.
So what standard is used for judging in political altruism?
One of the ways moral credit is earned within the political arena is by creating a moral divide. For instance, the left presents a view where the right are in bed with big business and are constantly attempting to sellout the little guy for a quick buck. The left gains moral credit by claiming to side with the little guy.
Brilliant! An entirely new and far more fundamental view of identity politics, social justice, centralized control and redistribution - How to be 'moral' by forcing others to adopt altruistic plans.
And it is a kind of pseudo-self-esteem. Instead of "Self-esteem is the experience of one's self as capable of meeting life's challenges and worthy of happiness and love" it becomes a political, pseudo-self-esteem which is attempting to experience one's as self as morally worthwhile by proposing schemes to force others to make sacrifices and demonizing those who oppose the schemes.
The right portrays its own vision of the moral divide. In their view, the left is out to control people and regulate every detail of everyone's lives. The right is the noble opposition that resists the conceited left. The path to altruism is different. Instead of directly redistributing wealth and controlling people, the right see altruism as best achieved by creating incentives and institutions that attract altruistic behaviors. Consequently, the moral credit they get is in resisting the quick fixes that always have unintended consequences, and supporting policies that promote freedom and morality.
This seems to be true, but it feels incomplete... like there is more to the story. What you've said explains, for example, why the right wants tax credits for donations to charity, and that is like a 'twofer' - they reduce taxes, and encourage personal altruism. But, assuming we are talking about that portion of the right that want to enforce moral behavior in, say, the bedroom. True, that is as if they want people to follow personal morality. But there is a much stronger psychological drive in what we see to be explained without some sort of collective salvation premise involved ("we must force others to be moral or we will all be doomed in some fashion"). Or some degree of psychological projections. Like those righteous moralists who gather together to view porn in order to condemn it. We don't have to be Jungians to grasp what is hiding in the shadows of their psyche.
A normal citizen can view himself in terms of political altruism as well. He can think of himself as being on the side of the good guys. He can give himself credit for promoting policies that help others instead of selling out to the greedy businesses. The moral credit is diminished from not being in the spotlight, but it can still assumed.
More Brilliance! And the use of the big lie, and the Trojan Horse legislation, let the citizen cozy up to the politician's positions more easily in order to assume some of that moral credit. This is such a clear exposee of the the motives of the Limosine Liberal. The person teaches themselves to blank out any critical thinking about the lies they are hearing, or the contrary facts, or the logical inconsistencies so that they can grab that moral credit, but that very blanking out, makes it so much more workable - in their mind - that they can get moral credit just from being on the 'correct' side. And the intensity of the attack on that side's opponents, is the evidence and measure of their stance for the 'correct' side.
There's no contest. Personal morality is hard. Simply telling other people what to do is easy. And because of the way it is judged, political altruism provides far more moral credit with essentially no effort or cost. Of course it's popular.
Joe, this is a homerun - it really needs to be a book! This is really at the heart of things.
Getting altruistic moral credit without fulfilling personal sacrifice is what explains the drive to abandon logic inorder to make it 'work', and then sensing that abandonment of logic explains the hunger to find pseudo-science to fill the resulting void.