Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Bridging gulfs

Over at Revealed Preferences, I share some of my thoughts on the importance of civil discourse, how conservative political parties and left-wing crusaders are making things worse, and how we might start to make them better instead.
It’s true that Republican candidates were able to win elections by focus grouping their statements so that they don’t scare away voters who are worried about immigration, trade, or the many other changes ongoing in a great society. But by failing to spend the resources to engage those voters and supporting their fears, the party has found itself floundering when it comes to explaining the limits of what American governments can do, actual facts on the ground about immigration, and an economic understanding of trade now that those fears have become worse. 
Likewise in Canada, Kellie Leitch might be able to win votes, and Ezra Levant might be able to scrape together subscribers, by playing to the worst fears of the populist wing of the electorate. They are helping to congeal those who share those fears into a distinct, separate voting bloc of people who aren’t questioned (lest their votes be risked) and whose fears are elevated, rather than engaged (lest they disappear, along with the motivation to stick with the candidate). 
An alternative is to engage fearful people. As Ilhan Omar points out in the podcast, people are allowed to be afraid – but how we react to that fear matters. Political fortress building isolates valid concerns from correction and refinement by facts, experience, and different perspectives. This is why progressives who immediately write off those same concerns as deplorable are just as culpable for the faltering pillar of societal tolerance as the conservatives who refuse to listen to the ‘MSM’. The left fears Donald Trump and what his victory today might mean. The right fears ‘social justice warriors’ who want to rewrite society. Neither talks across the gulf between them. Both contribute to the problem.
Read the whole post here.

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