In our highly polarized political climate, it is rare to find an individual who is as familiar with both sides of the aisle as Arianna Huffington is. A bestselling author, a nationally syndicated columnist, and named by Time magazine as one of the one hundred most influential people in 2006, Huffington’s eclectic career has always defied convention—and partisan categorization. She was once married to a Republican congressman. She ran for governor of California as an independent. And her popular internet newspaper, The Huffington Post, has a decidedly liberal bent. But while we’ve long admired Huffington’s broad political perspective as well as the passionate dedication to political and cultural change that has defined her career, it is her interest in the relationship between spirituality and politics, articulated in her book The Fourth Instinct, that compelled us to take a closer look.
In this interview, Elizabeth Debold speaks with Huffington about her book and asks why she sees political and social activism as a spiritual obligation. Drawing on many years as a devout Christian and as a leading political activist, Huffington suggests that in addition to sex, power, and survival, there is a “fourth instinct,” which she calls “the desire for transcendence,” that has driven political and social change throughout history. Huffington calls for a new form of political leadership that doesn’t play on fear and greed but appeals to what Abraham Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature.”