We've created this collection of resources to help you continue the discussion about having better political conversations with family members, friends, and neighbors.
More from our Ideas at Work Guests
In October 2019, we hosted Sarah Stewart Holland and Beth Silvers of the "Pantsuit Politics" podcast for a discussion about politics, relationships, and community. You can hear more from them on these topics in the interviews below, by checking out their twice-weekly podcast "Pantsuit Politics," or exploring their new book I Think You're Wrong (But I'm Listening).
Resources Mentioned in the Live Conversation with "Pantsuit Politics":
During the live discussion with Sarah and Beth, we heard about principles they explore in their new book I Think You're Wrong (But I'm Listening). We also heard about their "beyond politics" weekly podcast, "The Nuanced Life."
Why Is Talking About Politics So Difficult?
Is the gap between liberals and conservatives widening? If so, what is causing the divide and what are the consequences? These studies outline some of the challenges surrounding political discourse today and shed light on nation-wide trends.
Political Polarization Studies - Pew Research Center
"Why is it so stressful to talk politics with the other side?" - The Conversation
Debating Our Values
What values do we need to commit to individually and as a nation to improve our political dialogue? There are significant challenges connected to stepping out of our echo chambers and embracing diversity of opinion in our communities. What can we do to lay a foundation for difficult discussions?
Recognize our shared history. "Since the country’s founding, Americans have had to navigate conflicting impulses toward tolerance and a desire to build communities with thick, often homogeneous cultures," writes Emma Green in The Atlantic. Jonathan Haidt's TED talk (right) offers a thought-provoking framework for understanding the origins of our ideological differences.
Embrace empathy. Explore why there's "something subversive in empathy" and why it's a value we should commit to defending. NPR's Hidden Brain episode "You 2.0: The Empathy Gym" and David Brooks' "Kindness is a Skill" discuss empathy as a habit.
Approach with civility? NPR's "Civility Wars" Series offers a range of perspectives on addressing profound disagreements with civility. Is there a case to be made for "just enough" civility for the sake of our democratic processes? Some have argued that the quest to find common ground is problematic, while others - such as past Ideas at Work guest John Inazu - claim that values like tolerance and humility are essential for bridging our differences.
Keep talking, even when it's difficult. Psychologists, mediators, and counselors advise that we shouldn't avoid political conversations with family members. There are ways we can make our attempts to communicate across divides more effective, including:
Practice. Here are the Center we offer in-person and online opportunities to discuss big ideas with people of all backgrounds. Our partners at the National Conversation Project can help you discover civil conversations happening near you. Or you can use this guide from Living Room Conversations at a starting point at home.
Be curious. Curiosity helps pave the way for fruitful discussions. Seek out new perspectives by using the gnomi news app or receiving The Flip Side daily newsletter to see the headlines interpreted by the left and right. You can also check out ProCon.org to get diverse takes on current issues. Podcasts like "Pantsuit Politics" or "The Politics Guys" offer bi-partisan commentary on the news each week.
Put relationships ahead of "winning." Enter conversations to with the intention to understand and be understood by the other person - not to change their mind. Explore the "Scout" mindset discussed in the TED talk from Julia Galef (right). You can also dig deeper into "Why Facts Don't Change our Minds" from James Clear for thoughts on our limited powers of persuasion.