Can Americans Learn to Scale Their Partisan Walls?

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By Lynn Parramore, Senior Research Analyst at the Institute for New Economic Thinking. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website

Recently, my Facebook page featured a post by a Republican acquaintance listing reasons why Democrats are the morally degenerate enemies of America. He’s the neighbor of a relative of mine—a passionate Democrat of the sort who posts campaign signs in her yard. This is the same neighbor he treats to fresh lettuces from his garden and cherishes for her plucky personality.

How can the doting neighbor and the bitter partisan be the same person?

According to social scientists, very easily. Humans have a knack for holding contradictory attitudes and shifting seamlessly among them. Social psychologist Richard E. Nisbett and others have studied the way people make judgments and form perceptions, finding that we are guided by an array of mental and emotional forces that apply depending on context and situation. Most of this is beyond our conscious awareness.

When we post on social media, we are guided by one set of forces, different from those at play when we meet a neighbor face-to-face. In one context, we are focused on what divides us, in the other on what we share.

The conventional wisdom media insists that the country is degenerating hopelessly into warring factions: blue v. red; white working class v. people of color; centrists v. insurgents; left v. right; millennials v. boomers; men v. women. While pundits proclaim America broken, we tend to forget something expressed by the poet Maya Angelou: “We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.”

Feeling is First

Berkeley sociologist Arlie Hochschild found evidence for this human flexibility while doing research in Louisiana bayou country. A lifelong blue-stater, she wanted to know what motivated red-state voters to reject federal solutions to serious problems that dogged their communities, a phenomenon she calls the “Great Paradox.” How, for example, could a voter be drawn to Big Oil-supported candidates when the companies that fund them turned their beloved bayous into toxic waste dumps, destroyed jobs in fishing and tourism, and drained public coffers? Why vote for what hurts you?

Unsatisfied with popular answers, she headed down to southwestern Louisiana, near the Gulf of Mexico, where from 2011 to 2016 Hochschild interviewed several dozen white, Christian, middle-aged and older people from both blue collar and white collar backgrounds, 40 of whom were Tea Party supporters. At their kitchen tables and workplaces, she learned from them what media accounts often miss.

Instead of intolerant bigots, she found people who treated her with friendly, often bemused, curiosity. Rather than caring little for the less fortunate or the environment, those she spoke to wanted good jobs, clean water, and to help those in need. They set a high store on community, fairness, resilience, and hard work—values much of the country would share.

Not that there weren’t any differences. These Louisianans tended to define community as the home and the church instead of the public square that means so much to San Franciscans. They expressed disdain for the government the way Bay Area hipsters scorn consumerism. For many, making sure that their kids attend a good church was more important than earning a spot at a fancy school. They felt pride to be rooted in a thick, stable community of relatives, co-parishioners, and friends. To them the cosmopolitan life seemed precarious and alienated.

They pointed to the failures in the public sector more readily than abuses in the private sector. When these right-leaning people thought about economic unfairness, they focused their attention down the class ladder (between the middle class and the poor), rather than up (between the top and the rest) as people on the left tend to do. “Ironically,” Hochschild notes, “both call for an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work.”

Southwestern Louisianans also carried what Hochschild calls a “deep story” of their American experience that was distinct from other regions. A deep story, as she defines it, is an emotion-driven inner narrative that informs how we see the world and ourselves. For the people she got to know, that story often involved a sense of shame, betrayal, and having been cast aside.

Emotional self-interest, Hochschild found, can be a stronger motivating factor than economic self-interest. One woman told the sociologist that she liked Rush Limbaugh because he defends her from the insults of liberals. “Oh, liberals think that Bible-believing Southerners are ignorant, backward, rednecks, losers,” the woman said. “They think we’re racist, sexist, homophobic, and maybe fat.”

People naturally seek release from unpleasant emotions. Charismatic leaders who understand deep stories can offer that release. That’s why, Hochschild observes, Donald Trump acts as an “antidepressant” at rallies in a region routinely mocked by coastal city-dwellers.

In a place where the shameful history of the plantation system hovers, a Big Oil executive who promises dazzling new facilities and high-dollar jobs delivers a feeling of pride restored, of future prosperity. On the contrary, being told that they should rely on government money to alleviate problems caused by such developments triggers a sense of shame in people.

No matter what our politics, human beings seek fairness, security, and dignity. We yearn for status in our own eyes and in those of our community. We are creatures who yearn for comfort when we are hurt and someone to blame when we are angry. Most of the time we want to help our neighbors and to show kindness to strangers. We want love, whether we were the supporters of Hillary Clinton who raised “Love Trumps Hate” signs in the 2016 campaign or Trump backers who swam in the “sea of love” the president described at his inauguration.

And none of us likes it when we are told we are feeling the wrong feelings.

Climbing Over the Empathy Wall

Hochschild’s 2016 book, “Strangers in Their Own Land,” is the account of a struggle to scale what she calls the “empathy wall”—the mental and emotional blocks which prevent us from seeing through the eyes of others. Part of the challenge involves understanding the ways in which we are connected.

We need each other, but we often don’t see each other. Hochschild notes that blue coastal cities need red state resources, but are too distanced from what it takes to procure them. Liberals from New York might be happy to use great quantities of oil to fuel their jet-setting lives, but they don’t have to live with the pollution caused by the production of this oil: Louisianans do. Blue-staters, she finds, could do with understanding more about what community means to people in other parts of the country, while red-staters could benefit from reaching out to a larger world.

Climbing the empathy wall is challenging, but the reward is hope. On both sides, Hochschild observes, people “wrongly imagine that empathy with the ‘other’ side brings an end to clearheaded analysis when, in truth, it’s on the other side of that bridge that the most important analysis can begin.”

The sociologist found that on issue after issue, differences are real, but not immutable. Possibilities for practical cooperation become apparent once people start talking to one another. One deeply conservative woman who stressed the dignity of work expressed an idea that would have sounded right to Franklin Roosevelt’s New Dealers: “If there aren’t jobs around,” she said, “well, get people working on highways…” To such a person, solutions in the form of jobs programs or training have a stronger chance of sounding palatable than other remedies.

In an interview with the Institute for New Economic Thinking, Hochschild said that she found strong interest in renewable energy among Louisianans. However, talk tended to shut down when the suggestion of government investment came up. On a fishing trip with one of her Louisiana friends (she calls them friends in the book), a surprising path of connection came up through a discussion of fairness, namely, how it didn’t seem fair that California enjoyed relatively clean air and water and Louisiana suffered with pollution. It was the social self, not the economic self that mattered in the conversation. Once the idea of fairness was extended into the issue of pollution, people were able to shift out their default political framework.

Evidence for What Binds Us

Poll after poll reflects Americans’ common values and concerns.

Most want people to have a safety net: A 2017 survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed that only 12% support cuts to Medicaid, while a 2016 Public Policy Polling survey found that the majority of Americans want to expand Social Security, regardless of age, race, gender, or party affiliation. Most want more economic fairness: A 2017 Reuters/Ipsos poll showedthat three quarters think the rich should pay more taxes, while a Pew survey the same year revealed that 62 percent are deeply troubled that “some corporations” don’t pay their share. Pew also reported in 2017 that a substantial majority sees economic inequality as either a very big or moderately big problem.

Americans care about nature: In 2018, Gallup showedthat most want the government to do more to protect the environment. Even the most polarizing issues reveal commonalities: A 2016 Pew survey foundthat 69% do not want Roe v. Wade overturned.

Surveys also reveal shared frustrations, particularly when it comes to institutions. In 2017, Pew reported that only 18% of Americans say they can trust the government in Washington. 2018 polling data demonstrate that only 14 percent have a “great deal” of confidence in banks. A recent NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll showed that Americans have limited faith in big business, the presidency, the political parties and the media. A dismal 13% were found to trust the Democratic Party, and even fewer, 10%, had faith in the GOP. Congress elicited trust among just 8% of people. We may claim strong tribal affiliations to political parties, but we are frequently exasperated and annoyed by those tribes.

Hochschild points out that even in what is commonly considered the hopeless factional realm of Congress, members across the aisle have been able to come to agreement on issues like the need to reduce the prison population—something that might have sounded impossible in the recent past. She notes that one strategy to getting past partisan blocks is what she calls a “symbol stretch”—identifying cherished symbols, like freedom or patriotism, and expanding them in such a way that you include the listener. She gives an example of one Louisiana man concerned about pollution giving a talk to conservative businessmen who expressed little interest environmental matters but deep concerns about freedom—the freedom to invest and freedom to get rich. By describing a fisherman as lacking the freedom to procure uncontaminated fish, he gained the audience’s attention.

Hochschild observes that we all live in bubbles, and that it is imperative to get out of them. Change the situation and the context and you change how people respond to matters that are not as settled as they appear. She points to efforts like Bridge Alliance, a coalition of more than 90 organizations across the country committed to figuring out how to revitalize democratic practice—an effort that requires people with different perspectives and backgrounds meeting each other, speaking to each other, and activating the processes that encourage human beings to explore what they have in common.

In the current climate, Americans across the political spectrum feel alienated from a system that fails to represent what most of us want. People intuitively understand what research by political scientists likeBen Page and Thomas Ferguson have revealed: that the system has been taken over by a privileged few and grows more rife with exploitation and unfairness.

On the left and the right, Americans have become strangers in their own land. Perhaps the most radical thing we can do is to remember our shared fate and seize the possibilities of our flexible human perspectives. That’s the last thing the enemies of democracy want to see happen.

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  1. flora

    Thanks for this post. The “othering” of whole sections of America and American voters never sounded right to me, but it’s the trick used by both/all political parties to get votes. Wouldn’t it be great if enough US voters of all parties publicly agreed on some things – like SS and Medicare for example – that both/all political parties would have to represent those interests in order to get votes? It’s happened before. (Trust busting, regulations of predatory finance and exploitative corporations, safety net programs, etc.)

    1. Bob

      Like the need for common sense border security, that life begins at conception or the meaning of “shall not be infringed “.

      1. Anon

        Maybe you missed the sentence that a Pew survey indicated 69% of respondents did NOT want Roe v Wade overturned. Why is it that the people who want to define the beginning of life are little concerned about the actual living breathing lives walking the planet?

        1. Lynne

          Did you read the same article I did? The one that addressed how the vast majority want fairness, opportunity, and a safety net for everybody? Maybe do a little more investigation and a little less “other-ing?”

      2. Anon

        Okay, so there are some beliefs we don’t share. If we agree that decent people care for the elderly, infirm and needy, maybe that’s a start? If not that, how about: crooks are in charge, let’s throw em out?

  2. Matthew G. Saroff

    I think that a lot of the problems can come down to 2 things:
    * Impunity of the elites.
    * The fact that the right has been pushing the boundaries of acceptable behavior for decades, and has been rewarded by the center, which gingerly follows them, validating that behavior.

    1. Lynne

      Speaking of pushing boundaries of acceptable behavior, I recall seeing David Gergen and Anderson Cooper literally giggling and sniggering as they sat on national television and spewed hatred and obscene jokes at people for daring to suggest that Democrats and the federal government did not have a lock on answers to everything that ails us.

      Perhaps your two things is unrealistically narrow?

      1. zer0

        Agreed. Honestly, I find the left a lot more pushy on acceptable boundaries, because the left walks around like they are the morally righteous ones, while, behind the scenes, shielding men like Harvey, Clinton, Epstein, etc. for decades. Or Al Gore talking about the environment when his carbon footprint is probably that of 100 everyday Americans.

        In all, the two party system is atrocious, makes big debates about relatively minor problems, makes light of real economics (everyday life), and focuses on elite issues, like MI funding, markets, the Fed, and other aspects of American government that have no bearing. And when they do have bearing, like education, they slash funding and site socialism as the reason because apparently, everything is better when privatized….but backed by the taxpayer.

        All in all, we need all those over 65 to please leave politics. They were born in a different era, have no perception of how everyday Americans really live nowadays, and are failing mentally and it shows. A lot. It’s actually insane to see a bunch of 70 year old men giving opinions on whether birth control should be subsidized, or abortion made illegal, while subsidizing viagra for veterans. Or how DC is medically legal, but make the rest of the country an incarceration state for people selling weed.

          1. Newton Finn

            “The exception proves the rule.” I don’t think that enough people ponder what that old saw means. Same goes for “rules are made to be broken.” No need to spell it out, I’m sure, but in the former case, when one must hunt for exceptions, it shows the general applicability of the original proposition. In the second case, the concept is that human judgment, exercised in particular circumstances, should sometimes have priority over general policies and principles. Please excuse the pedantry, but I LOVE these two little pieces of folk wisdom.

    2. DHG

      I have been told there is no more center, you are either a leftist or with us… I have news for all who think this way the center is very much alive and I have voted a D and I ballot this year with no Rs. I have never rewarded anyone for their bad behavior.

  3. tegnost

    I spoke to and heard of many trump voters who would have voted for bernie. The walls are artfully constructed artifice.

    1. Lord Koos

      Yes, that is something that I believe has been confirmed by pollsters. Some former Obama voters voted for Trump as well.

    2. Lynne

      Exactly! If only people would spend a little more time actually visiting with open minds and a little less listening and watching to those that carry water for the 1% who have an interest in dividing everyone (like, oh say, Sean Hannity and Rachel Maddow), there might be some hope.

      1. baldski

        Please stop with the “both siderism”. How do you possibly equate Rachel with Slant head Hannnity? I cannot.

      2. Amfortas the hippie

        I’ll second your “exactly!”, Lynn. I’ve spent a long while in the redneck wilderness, mostly listening. a New New Deal is entirely sellable out here, if worded properly, and implemented without all the means-testing exclusionary nonsense.
        The eliminationism from the center was something I hadn’t expected…I was shocked at the first few Kill Them All threads on alternet, etc

  4. William Hunter Duncan

    I think of myself as an anarchist, insofar as I see anarchy as the way nature organizes effortlessly; humans piling up ideologies and dogmas consequently making a mess of nature and society.

    Lately too I have found the rhetoric of both sides to be making an ever greater mess, resonating into chaos. We Americans have allowed ourselves to be manipulated, divide and conquer, to accept the pathological, in an eternal privatized war machine, in racketeering education and health care, privatized prisons, industrial agriculture, ecocidal economics and “gilded age” inequality, by and for elite on both “sides”.

    I’m trying to imagine in the micro, how crazy a man would seem if he went about attempting to destroy the left or right side of his body. In the macro, it is no less insane to contemplate or attempt to destroy “the other side.” The whole ends up dying.

    And yet when I try to talk like this, inevitably many just project on to me the evil of the other. I hope we can let that go, as Americans, lest we tear this nation apart.

    1. ckimball

      Thank you. To add a little to your thoughts.
      I have enjoyed associating with some Russian people who
      are part of our small island community which is polarized pretty much to the left. The attitude that most impressed me with appreciation about these people from Russia, who have known tough times, is that they don’t identify with the leaders of their government or ours. I was told they turned to each other cooking, entertaining. They accepted that they weren’t a part of it.
      While we have believed that we the people are the government or should be,
      we point at each other believing the OTHER has hi-jacked what we were
      taught to cherish not believing that the devaluation of us could be willful.

  5. vidimi

    i do believe that authoritarianism/conservatism is strongly related to strict parental discipline and corporal punishment for reasons that are too complex to get into here. generally, though, kids who got punished for breaking rules no matter how trivial get apoplexy when they see people who they perceive to be rule-breaking not get punished. the huge support in brazil for bolsonaro is driven mostly, i believe – i don’t have data to prove this – by people who were beaten as kids.

    having grown up in an arch conservative household, i have seen how people who think of themselves as moral and model citizens get driven to a zealous hatred of the left that has no equivalence on the left. it is literally fascism (not nazism). liberals may have contempt for conservatives but they don’t have that murderous hatred of their enemy and they don’t understand it. that’s why brazil is going to be such a bloodbath. like duterte in the philippines, but even worse.

    maybe if we want a more tolerant and peaceful society we need to start by raising gentler children.

    1. Harold

      Economic security helps people dare to be more humane and less rigid. Attention to fixing our economic disparities will aid this process.

      1. Carla

        “Economic security helps people dare to be more humane and less rigid.” You would hope so. Yet I don’t see this reflected in the wealthy segments of society; most of those who have gained material advantages, far from feeling more secure, are terrified of losing what they have so easily become accustomed to. And it’s a fact that the poor give a much larger percentage of their income to charity than the rich do.

    2. Lord Koos

      Properly educating those children is also key. The billionaire-funded right wingers have had a lot of success in undermining public education.

    3. Lynne

      Perhaps in your area. I know a great many leftist zealots who revel in wallowing in every news report of something bad happening to people in conservative areas. Perhaps you missed the social media posts of leftists celebrating when a tornado wiped out a school in Oklahoma? I don’t know what you call gloating over the death of children because their parents were presumed to be conservatives except “zealous hatred”.

    4. ChrisPacific

      Any kind of challenge to authority seems to bring out those people as well. I’m always surprised at the level of emotion that shows up in the responses to (for example) a story about a high school student rebelling against a rule that he/she considers unjust. The general tenor is something like: the school makes the rules, and your job is to obey them. You have no right to disobey the rules or even express disagreement with them, because following the rules and not making waves is what good, responsible adult citizens do. Learning this is part of your education, and if you fail to learn this lesson then you are doomed to be a delinquent forever and accomplish nothing in life.

      This message is typically delivered with a great deal of passion, and often anger at the upstart student who thinks the rules shouldn’t apply to them or that they know better than the school administrators what’s right. Most of them dismiss the student’s specific concern as irrelevant. The school could be requiring everyone to wear clown suits and crawl around on hands and knees all day, and the basic argument wouldn’t change.

      I could never really figure it out, and kept thinking that these people were lucky they didn’t grow up in Nazi era Germany, or the US during the civil rights period. But your explanation makes sense. They see it as a challenge to the basic values they were raised with.

  6. XFR

    At-will employment looks to be a key difference between the U.S. and less partisan polities.

    It creates a milieu where bullying people into changing their opinions is regarded as a normal thing, which badly weakens the power of individuals to have their own unique perspectives in that it creates a very strong incentive for people to coalesce into mutually exclusive group-thinking herds for self-protection.

    When people are able to form their own opinions on particular issues on a case-by-case basis without fear of alienating the herd, the dividing lines between factions are much blurrier and they are much less likely to evolve into intractable enmities.

  7. Atypical

    I, too, never understand the search for reasons why “we are so far apart” in this country. It blasts its hate daily, never let’s up and has no effective opposition.

    Well done, KYrocky.

  8. ChiGal in Carolina

    Much more than detailing the recent decades of conservative creep, Vidimi’s comment above on the “strong father” vs “nurturing mother” underlying values is important to the topic of this post: how to get past the differences.

    An update on this comes from Jonathan Haidt and I linked to a gloss on this in answer to a question the other day and will do so again, this time including an excerpt.

    Bottom line: liberals think conservatives lack empathy and therefore any concern about fairness. Turns out, they score lower on fairness than liberals, but not by much. The really significant difference is that liberals score MUCH lower on respect for authority, loyalty, and sanctity.

    Understanding this will be essential to any attempt to make common cause with those some too readily dismiss as “deplorables” imho. I say this as someone pretty damn far to the left, for those who don’t already know that.

    In my cross-cultural research, I have found that the moral domain of educated Westerners is narrower—more focused on harm and fairness—than it is elsewhere. Extending a theory from cultural psychologist Richard Shweder, Jesse Graham, Craig Joseph, and I have suggested that there are five psychological foundations, each with a separate evolutionary origin, upon which human cultures construct their moral communities . In addition to the harm and fairness foundations, there are also widespread intuitions about ingroup-outgroup dynamics and the importance of loyalty; there are intuitions about authority and the importance of respect and obedience; and there are intuitions about bodily and spiritual purity and the importance of living in a sanctified rather than a carnal way. And it’s not just members of traditional societies who draw on all five foundations; even within Western societies, we consistently find an ideological effect in which religious and cultural conservatives value and rely upon all five foundations, whereas liberals value and rely upon the harm and fairness foundations primarily.

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      To clarify this comment replied to a comment immediately after Vidimi’s that has since disappeared and this ended up down here.

  9. Wukchumni

    From my observations, people in Los Angeles often hardly knew their neighbors. It’s easy to demonize others when you don’t have anything staked in a relationship, and that’s the crux of the problem.

    Everybody frequently thinks the worst of people in other states, a lot of which is based on stereotypes.

    The one thing the draft did was allow Alabama to realize that California was ok, and Minnesota got on fabulously with Florida, that sort of thing.

    Bring back the draft, but more of a CCC model than anything military based.

      1. Lynne

        Agreed. Unfortunately, as Obama pointed out, turns out it’s not so easy to get projects shovel-ready as we’d like to think. And getting them ready requires expertise that most of us don’t have (and never did have). After all, some of those CCC projects caused environmental problems that we are only now starting to recognize.

  10. RUKidding

    For all the ranting about the so-called “liberal media,” I really don’t know what that means. For sure, though I don’t see/hear the the deliberately inflaming and incendiary language used on the right in outlets such as Fox, Rush & various “Christiany” broadcasting stations in other outlets that one may consider to be either “leftish” (aka, NPR, which has never been particularly left at all) or elsewhere on broadcast media, including MSNBC.

    I grew up in a conservative rightwing fundamentalist household and was dismayed to witness my already rightwing relatives swirl down the cesspits of Fox and Rush. I was horrified back in the ’90s by the awful messages they were broadcasting, which was clearly manipulating them into an US v. THEM state of mind. Rush’s horrible diatribes, even back then, were all about the gawd-awfulness of Libruls, wimmin, minorities, etc. I couldn’t stand to listen to it.

    Despite their church-going ways most of the whites I knew growing up in the 50s and 60s, whether in the south (where I had relatives) or the north (where I grew up) were racist to the core. The Northern faction kept it behind closed doors at the country club. The southern faction differed only in that they were more outspoken about it (and therefore more honest, I suppose). My southern relatives are surrounded by neighbors still proudly flying their stars and bars today. What am I supposed to “take” from that? If we factually call them out for being the racists that they clearly ARE, then we are disparaged as liars or worse. Oh really? What else can I call it? White nationalism? Just another gussied up term for being a racist and an [family blog]. But oh, I forget. I’m the one who’s a racist and a meanie for pointing out what’s actually happening all around me.

    My relatives still firmly ensconce themselves in their Rush/Fox cocoons, while attending cult-like “churches” (I attend enough to witness what’s said). They’ve grown ever more fearful and hateful and racist and sexist and homophobic over the past three decades. It has not been a pretty process.

    Frankly, there’s little way to have a conversation anymore. They have been brainwashed to HATE, LOATH, DETEST and DESPISE all Libruls just because. And the language used is that of us all being spawns of Satan (I’ve seen that terminology used) and devil worshippers (ditto) and so forth.

    How can one reach over that divide? Nigh unto impossible unless one of them does have some sort of “awakening.”

    Is the so-called “left” so pure and perfect and always singing Kumbayah? NO. Of course not, but seriously, where’s the vast leftwing media in this country that’s spewing forth similar levels of brainwashing propaganda to demand that the left HATE, DETEST and DESPISE the right in a similar fashion? It simply doesn’t exist. What I witness, however, both within myself and others is that we’re all sick and tired of being painted as these evil satanists who are somehow totally ruining the lives of the Sainted rightwing, who is just so victimized by our very existences. It’s beyond tedious and infuriating.

    But yes, most of my leftish friends and acquaintances well recognize how the right has been deliberately pitted against us in the great game of Divide and Conquer. We GET that. But the Oligarchs have been very clever, indeed, in sowing this system, so what can we do?

    I notice that there’s endless articles discussing who and what the Trump voters are. Usually hackneyed articles about older white men in diners with MAGA hats on… all of whom are allegedly some sort of “salt of the earth.” All presented as worthy and worthwhile citizens who just want the country to be “great” again or some such nonsense.

    I’ve said for ages: where’s the articles about people like ME who didn’t vote for Trump, who isn’t conservative? Where are those articles that can present the so-called “leftish” side in similar glowing terms about how we also just want what’s best for our country??? I have yet to see something like that, although I could have blinked and missed it.

    I don’t know how we scale this cleverly orchestrated partisan divide because one side, in particular, is heavily invested in not admitting what’s going on and how it’s come to be this way. And that’s the factual reality of the situation.

    1. MK

      I don’t know how we scale this cleverly orchestrated partisan divide because both sides are heavily invested in not admitting what’s going on and how it’s come to be this way. And that’s the factual reality of the situation.

      1. FluffytheObeseCat

        Despite my strong disgust for upper middle class, coastal “liberal” piety, I have to speak out against this petty, false “both sides are equally at fault” narrative.

        My personal and familial history is quite similar to RUKidding’s. Raised in the north because Dad’s job took us there; extended family all in the deep south. Have watched them become ever more right wing, coarse and extremist since the rise of Limbaugh & Co. in the 90s. They are south Louisiana Catholics, not Bible Belt fundamentalists, so the anti-Christlike cults that hold sway in the central south have less power over them. However these middle-aged, middle class whites soak themselves in the same vile propaganda, every day. It has eradicated their capacity for self-preservation, and decency. Their Greatest Generation parents were far from “liberal”, but they always managed to remember their duty. Their responsibility to see to the long term well being of their families, not just personally, but also in their political choices.

        Our contemporary white southern and ‘heartland’ middle classes are dominated by sneering, raging, ultra-right loudmouths. Men and women whose egos are so wrapped up in the propaganda they absorb that they actively damage their interests, their kids interests, and their old folks interests on a continuous basis. (As in every time they vote, or donate to the campaign of some, slick, noxious S.O.B.). Are their limited, compromised choices among the Democrats attractive? Not really. But neither snotty ‘professional’ nor classically corrupt machine Democrats are near so intent on actually impoverishing them.

        I dislike the Dowager Duchess Hillary, but her “vast right wing conspiracy” line was damned valid. Nutjobbism is far greater on the right today than it is on our tepid ‘left’ on account of it. Lately the Democrats’ media elite appear to be attempting to match the right, with their snarling, simpering TDS histrionics. However they still have a long way to go before they catch up with the seething neo-Birchers who rule our right wing media.

        1. MK

          Do I have to link to every one of the literally thousands of impassioned editorials, articles, and TV and radio segments in which respected journalists at serious news outlets have warned us, over and over, and over, that Donald Trump is literally Hitler, or virtually Hitler, and probably also a Russian agent? I don’t think so. Do you think that respectable publications like The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Atlantic, Time, and so on, would print such inflammatory allegations if the fate of democracy were not at stake? That would be rather reckless, wouldn’t it? I mean, how many times can you call a guy Hitler before Americans demand that somebody kill him?

      2. RUKidding

        I just said that my friends & I see very clearly what’s going on. And we don’t hate the right at all. We’re just frustrated by an inability to commicate fruitfully.

        Think you may have just proven my point.

        Thanks for your response.

        1. TimR

          But I hear this same lament from right wingers I know… When they try to have a sane discussion, lefties react emotionally, they say…

    2. George Phillies

      “…They have been brainwashed to HATE, LOATH, DETEST and DESPISE…” In other words, they are exactly like liberals, except that the direction of the hate is inverted.

      I am reminded of the otherwise intelligent friend of mine who assured me that “90% of Trump voters are white trash”.

      To make life even more interesting, the Democratic and Republican parties are organized on fundamentally different lines. Readers would usefully read the book Asymmetric Politics.Traditional Democratic party identity analyses, as seen in the book The Emerging Democratic Majority, and phrased in the notion that you should vote for your own (financial) interests, simply do not make sense to most Republicans. By ‘do not make sense’ I mean less ‘appear to be wrong’ and more ‘appear to be incomprehensible”The problem runs in both directions. Many Democrats will quote the claims that only a third of Republicans are gun owners, and most guns are owned by a small fraction of all gun owners, and infer that the second amendment is only of interest to a minority of conservatives, ignoring the major issue, namely that the attitudes of conservative gun-owners and of conservative non-gun-owners on the second amendment are the same.

      WHere is this going? I call the attention of readers to a third book, Potter’s The Impending Crisis, on American politics before the Civil War. People on the two sides stopped listening to each other. Under modern conditions, disunion would likely not come through secession, but perhaps come through partition, a la Czechoslovakia, or perhaps through a disputed election with two American governments appearing.

        1. witters

          yeah, lets give it to the suckers…

          How to build a community of the tolerant, the pluralistic and woke.

    3. flora

      Imagine the Dem estab saying as a voter getter, “we can’t stop bank fraud because that would just help the GOP and it wouldn’t end [racism, sexism, select -ism of choice].”

      Imagine the GOP estab saying as a voter getter, “we can’t stop bank fraud because that’s just what the Dems want because the Dems hate business.”

      I think both liberal and conservative voters would see through that act pretty quick. I think both liberal and conservative voters want the tbtf banks put on a shorter leash and stopped from defrauding their customers. This is a pocketbook example of an area of large agreement, imo. The “scary scary hate hate” mongers never talk about pocketbook issues – unless it’s the “need” for more austerity for the 99%. Probably a coincidence. ;)

      1. XFR

        Imagine the Dem estab saying as a voter getter, “we can’t stop bank fraud because that would just help the GOP and it wouldn’t end [racism, sexism, select -ism of choice].”

        Am I going senile? Because I have a distinct memory of the DKos set saying the above, nearly word-for-word, during the uproar over the bailouts.

          1. RMO

            “If I broke up the big banks – how would that end racism?” – to paraphrase a recent presidential candidate.

    4. XFR

      Despite their church-going ways most of the whites I knew growing up in the 50s and 60s, whether in the south (where I had relatives) or the north (where I grew up) were racist to the core. The Northern faction kept it behind closed doors at the country club. The southern faction differed only in that they were more outspoken about it (and therefore more honest, I suppose). My southern relatives are surrounded by neighbors still proudly flying their stars and bars today. What am I supposed to “take” from that?

      Yeah, but the country club set still seem to be as racist as they ever were too, and the erstwhile social justice warriors seem strangely prone to fall silent or even turn outright hostile when the subject of discrimination against East or South Asians comes up. Really it looks to me like the Southern racists are in “anger” stage of grief, while the Northern racists–still closeted as ever–are in the “bargaining” stage.

    5. Lynne

      Shortly before the last election, a friend assured me that all Republicans are evil and she wouldn’t be happy until the Republican party was completely destroyed by the election (which was obviously going to happen) and they all died and ended up roasting in hell where they belonged. My reply was to say that I was a little shocked that she would say such a thing, that I’m not a fan of the Republican party but that it wasn’t fair to say that about EVERY person there, and that I was certain she didn’t really believe that because she was an intelligent, highly educated professional woman. Her response to that was to call me a b*tch and refuse to speak to me again. She frequently posts on FB about reasons to HATE, DETEST and DESPISE the right, linking to various groups that post “memes” that call for everyone to hate, detest, and despise all that are not ideologically pure.

      1. flora

        I experienced something similar. Then I remembered that FB was a willing participant in ’emotional contagion’* experiments, and that there’s a lot of money (some entity paid for those experiments and the resulting data) behind the efforts to keep us divided over identity issues so we don’t join on economic issues, imo. (Said efforts to keep us divided might properly be called propaganda).

        Not everyone reads NC. Not everyone is skeptical that the MSM and social media presentations are wholly neutral presentations, but instead take the presentations at face value.


      2. The Rev Kev

        Sorry to hear that you lost your friend that way. What I will say is that your story gave me a bit more insight into what it is like when you get a religious war and the feelings must be very similar. Good thing to hear that you have managed to retain your objectivity though. That is always worth retaining.

      3. RUKidding

        Guess that’s why I’m not on Facebook. I don’t see attitudes like this anywhere that I hang out either in reality or virtually. That’s unfortunate.

        However I posit that people ranting on Facebook are quite a bit different from the Fox/Rush/“Christian” broadcasting juggernaut. A much more pervasive & powerful propaganda platform than Facebook tirading.

        1. Lynne

          I admit to avoiding the Fox/Rush thing except when I’m really tired and driving. It’s hard to fall asleep while shouting at the radio. I do agree, though, that it can be powerful propaganda. I asked someone during the Kavanaugh hearing what she thought about it and was dismayed to hear quotes from Fox personalities repeated with her clear expectation that they should be accepted as fact.

      4. jrs

        And what if you were going to end up on the streets, going hungry, or whatever because of a political parties policies (and let’s face it this is more the Rs than the Ds with cutting the safety net etc., although with Bill Clinton’s welfare reform this was what was at stake there too) then you’d care about POLITICS a darn bit more than about politeness or appearances of such. This is what people can actually see at stake in the political game.

        1. Lynne

          I care very much about politics. What I don’t understand is why some people don’t seem to get that demonization of large groups is wrong, but also incredibly counterproductive in the long run. I’ve viewed (and personally felt) the effect of Democrats calling people racist for challenging some of Obama’s policies. I don’t get why they thought it would encourage critics to praise him for protecting bankers from prosecution and financial hits for their malfeasance, for example.

  11. a different chris

    Yeah the whole thing starts with the “Right vs Left” construct. If you don’t find a way to break that – which is unfortunately pretty much locked in with our form of government-, then you will always have two teams at each other’s throats. I think the way European Parliaments manged to get so far, before the Eurocrats clamped down, was that they had so many parties. You always had somebody to negotiate towards your side.

    Every individual has a near kaleidoscope of opinions on everything. Not only are those opinions colorful and complex (when they know something about the subject), but can change with a twist of a poll question. Lock them into “Right” or “Left”, and you’ve simplified things to an unhuman degree. So you get what we’ve got.

    1. Carla

      “the “Right vs Left” construct. If you don’t find a way to break that – which is unfortunately pretty much locked in with our form of government-”

      Yeah. Except for us, it’s the Right vs. the Center-Right masquerading as “the Left.”

    2. ape

      But that “Eurocrat” thing isn’t really true. There’s 10 groupings in the EU Parliament, with something on the order of 60 individual parties.

      The national parliaments are sovereign, constitutional issues that the EU has fairly little influence on — the UK has an FPTP system with two dominant party and several minor parties because of UK history, Hungary is under a one-party dominant coalition against the “Eurocrats” preference, Germany has a 5+ party system that is it’s own historical evolution, Italy still has 25+ parties in parliament and so on…

      So the “Eurocrat” thing just isn’t at all true, but seems to just be a knee-jerk insult to the European civil services. Why? Why this automatic attack on professional civil services, rather than specific policies?

  12. bruce wilder

    I am uncomfortable with the simplistic red-blue dichotomy that is used as the structuring element of the narrative in this essay.

    I really wish more people would make the effort to study the psychology of authoritarian attitudes in politics (without pathologizing the right, please). And, could be we up the baseline narrative to include a distinction between authoritarian leaders (orientation to social dominance — demagogues, ex: Trump) and authoritarian followers?

    bob altemeyer’s work, for the umpteenth time in comments:

    a key tidbit: authoritarian followers are egalitarians.

    the pathology of authoritarian politics has to something to do with either or both:
    1.) having too large a proportion of authoritarian followers in a group is very bad for the ability of the group to “think” in a non-hostile, non-paranoid fashion;
    2.) the interaction of demagogues (people like Trump, who are oriented toward social dominance and are amoral in some important respects) with authoritarian followers can be very bad news.

    Othering and shunning authoritarian followers in politics, it seems to me, can exacerbate the risks of both 1.) and 2.) above. (The tendency of the 9.9% to kick down in class terms at authoritarian followers is part of the brewing of political pathology.)

  13. meadows

    The partisan walls are easily broken down when not artificially inflated by mainstream media in collaboration w/mainstream politicians, corporations and religions.

    It’s the American Way of good/evil, right/wrong. There’s little room for ambvialence, gray areas, and ideology-free rational discussion and action.

    I am dismayed by ideological purity spouting from any partisan from any wall. Pol Pot and his gang wanted to start a workers paradise where everyone was equal! Sounds great, right? What could go wrong?

    I do agree that the endless drumbeat of propaganda from conservative radio/tv/print and the internet pipes has been effective.

    I was brought up to question everything and anyone. Boy has that made my life harder and harder yet on anyone who has a fact-challenged belief system who has engaged with me… but I always begin any new meeting w/a sense of “…we are the same, unique but the same… ”

  14. PKMKII

    Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

    Do coastal people sometimes talk about flyover country in harsh, stereotypical terms? Yes. But the flyover country people also talk about coastal people as if they are not even real Americans. And often times those coastal people are those who migrated out of flyover country to the urban areas. They aren’t speaking out of an ignorance, they’re reflecting their reasons and problems that caused them to leave flyover country in the first place. Those places have a strong sense of community, but if you fall outside of what they consider to be “them” in any way you will be ostracized from that community.

    Coastal areas economically exploit the flyover ones, but it’s vice versa politically. Between gerrymandering, the inherent nature of the senate and its arbitrary rules, flyover country gets to put a finger on the scales of American political economy.

    The real problem here is the yearning for someone to blame when we’re angry. Things go awry and we look for the answer to the problem to come from without, never from within. Both region types need to grapple with their own sins before understanding can be had.

    1. Lynne

      Agreed. I would include with the yearning for someone to blame, the desire for easy solutions in which someone else shoulders the burden.

      I sometimes lapse back to simplistic thinking that it must have been good — in a terrible way — to live in an era like WWII where people had a clear purpose and obvious enemy that really did need defeated. Then I recall hearing stories from my parents and grandparents who lived through those times, and it was neither so easy nor simple. There was greed, graft, corruption, and hatred, as well as “other-ing” then as well. There were people who bought their way out of the draft, who made money by selling substandard supplies to the military knowing it was destined for their neighbors who were called up, etc. And people who were in the military were not some big, happy family. There are plenty of stories of viciousness directed at groups and individuals who didn’t fit. Not to sound fatalistic, but some of this is just human nature.

    2. marym

      Combine ostracizing “them” at the community level and “putting a finger on the scales” of politics and we get the use of state violence to ban, deport, disenfranchise, murder-by-cop, deny healthcare, or incarcerate “them.”

      This isn’t to excuse liberal “othering” – insults about deplorables, gentrification, nimby hypocrisy, means testing, etc.

      If we’re going to come together for the sake of our “shared fate” with Medicare for All, or a Job Guarantee, or climate change mitigation, or tuition-free public college, we need some common ground on who constitutes all of us. I’m inclined to think (maybe wrongly) the liberal segment of the 90% have a less steep wall to scale than the eliminationist right.

      1. flora

        marym, I’m going to put this comment here because I’ve read and appreciated your comments over some time, and think you will generously forgive my tagging on to your good comment with my somewhat aside comment – at least I hope so.

        “Othering” is dividing and weakening the understanding and wishes of the general polity, imo.

        The Progressive causes of the 1880’s -1910’s were finally achieved by the Republican party under Pres. Theodore Roosevelt. The Progressive movement’s goal were continued under Dem Pres. FDR during the Great Depression. It wasn’t either party that led, it was politicians in each party that were in tune with the wishes of the polity that brought the changes needed. We are fresh out of Roosevelts. We will have to do this ourselves… and we will.

        1. flora


          Volcker, who served as Fed chairman from 1979 to 1987, told the Times that Washington has lost the American people’s respect and pays insufficient attention to bridging that divide. He blamed the influx of money into politics and a lack of attention on effective governance from elite public affairs colleges and think tanks.

          “They can argue war and peace and poverty and everything else,” he said. “But when you go to a school of public policy, you’re not learning how to run the goddamn government. You’re learning how to debate political issues.”
          -Paul Volcker

  15. Lord Koos

    I think that your writing off a large group of people in this way is unproductive to say the least.

  16. tokyodamage

    my two cents:

    1) Americans are poisoned by a “Sports-fan” mentality: there’s only two teams, and every member of each team is identical to the other members of that team (same logos, same uniform). That’s where you get these nutty “Nancy Pelosi and her Antifa goons!” memes. . .

    2) Social media – as many here point out – messes us up. If I wrote the craziest uber-leftwing stuff I could think of, I might get 10 retweets from lefties, but I’d get 100 retweets from rightwingers, delighted that I’d confirmed their worst suspicions of “all leftwingers”. The loudest craziest people get the most attention. And slowly, even middle of the road people begin to take up more and more crazy positions, to drive up their own numbers. You get clicks by outraging the other side, rather than get clicks by learning to re-phrase your arguments to appeal to those on the other side.

    3) Matt Taibbi is doing a book about how media polarizes people, the first few chapters are free.

    1. Aumua

      You get clicks by outraging the other side,

      Yes and boy, Trump sure knows this doesn’t he. He got those clicks all the way to the white house, and he’s still getting them. Seems like the “other side” is too stupid to get this simple fact so they keep feeding him outrage, every time.

  17. Carla

    “a surprising path of connection came up through a discussion of fairness, namely, how it didn’t seem fair that California enjoyed relatively clean air and water and Louisiana suffered with pollution. It was the social self, not the economic self that mattered in the conversation. Once the idea of fairness was extended into the issue of pollution, people were able to shift out their default political framework.”

    I don’t understand what this means. Californians have supported high gasoline taxes and made other economic sacrifices to support cleaner air and water. How does that jibe with “it was the social self, not the economic self that mattered in the conversation.”

    1. Lynne

      I don’t understand what this means.

      My take: Most Californians don’t live next to refineries, but they sure enjoy using the fuel that comes from them, while some enjoy looking down their noses at those who suffer the consequences.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        I saw that as a poorly worded example of using the thesaurus effectively.
        My go-to example: asking the folks in the feedstore if someone who works all the time should be in poverty. Nays all around. means they’re for a living wage, just not in those words. The propaganda machine has implanted “minwage=Evil!” in their noggins. we must figure out how to go around, over or under that.

        1. baldski

          Amen hippie, my brother worked for Miller brewing which opened a brewery in rural North Carolina. He could not believe the hostility from the locals. He first attributed it to religious reasons, but later found it was from “that damned Miller paying people $15/hr. and ruining everything”. They did not like prosperity.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            they don’t like change.
            this observation is from a guy who was instrumental in introducing food besides truck stop texmex, as well as organic/sustainable principles, in this insular far place. Resistance was subtle but fierce.
            hell…took them 100+ years to get used to the presence of brown people speaking Spanish.
            change, and Modernity itself, is confusing…and puts an unwanted end to being able to coast through their days.
            Hence, it would be better to go on and get started with the whole evangelism for a New New Deal project,lol.
            It ain’t gonna happen by osmosis or organic demographic change.
            The largest obstacle I’ve run in to is lack of a viable alternative party.

  18. Carla

    “A dismal 13% were found to trust the Democratic Party, and even fewer, 10%, had faith in the GOP. Congress elicited trust among just 8% of people.”

    Americans who self-identify as independent has fluctuated between 41% – 45% in the last year, far outpacing both Democrats (27% – 32%) and Republicans (22% – 28%).

    Here are the results of a nationwide survey of almost 5,000 Independent voters:

  19. Jeff W

    I never really get the whole “bridging the partisan divide” thing. No matter how Louisianans talk about the role of the government, the General Social Survey has shown consistently for decades that most Americans,even those describe themselves as “conservative,” favor such things as more spending even if taxes are raised (Similarly, most Americans favor almost all of Bernie Sander’s policy positions.)

    The government that the “friends” of Ms. Hochschild expressed disdain for is the same one that provides their Social Security checks, their health care through Medicare or the VA, their highways and innumerable other benefits. Did any of these people’s grandparents or great-grandparents have disdain for the government when FDR’s New Deal got them (and millions of people like them) jobs through the WPA and CCC and sent them their first Social Security checks (via New Deal-built post office buildings) or when Eisenhower had federal highways built? Four decades of neoliberal governance not in the public interest, along with corporate-funded, consolidated media saying how government can’t do anything right (oh, and that the “liberals” hate you), has a way of messing with people’s viewpoints. If, say, some alternative-universe, benign Rush Limbaugh was extolling the virtues of Social Security and the government’s role in providing it, Ms. Hochschild might be hearing very different things. Understanding the environment that gives rise to what Ms. Hochschild is hearing is way more important just recording and “understanding” what’s been heard.

    And let’s say we bridge the “partisan divide,” we scale those partisan walls, what happens then? We “understand” each other but we’re still in a country where, as Gilens and Page found, in 2014, the average person has “little or no independent influence.” So we still have growing inequality, expensive, labyrinthine health care, crappy jobs, on and on, but, at least the people in Louisiana don’t feel misunderstood by those in California. Wow.

    Perhaps the most radical thing we can do is to remember our shared fate and seize the possibilities of our flexible human perspectives. That’s the last thing the enemies of democracy want to see happen.

    I feel like enemies of democracy are pretty happy when we sit around “remembering our shared fate” and “seizing possibities” of “shared perspectives.” No, the last thing enemies of democracy want to see is, well, democracy. To get there, it’s better to focus on the highest leverage points in a system—which have to do, in a political system, with what influences those in power to act in certain ways, e.g., money in pilitics, than, arguably, the lowest (e.g., how the people with the least amount of power feel about each other). Let’s get to a point where we pursue policies that are in the public interest—in health care, jobs and working life, media, education, finance and social wealth, on and on, things that people in other advanced countries take for granted and maybe some they don’t—and then let’s come back and talk about “partisan walls.” Those walls might be a bit lower at that point, if they exist at all.

  20. The Rev Kev

    I think that I have found a way to break up all this partisanship. I intend to put a patent out on the colours red and blue and forbid the Republicans and Democrats from using it for their party colours. The US has already had enough of the blue versus the grey and now the red versus the blue so let both parties grind their gears deciding what colour they are going to be.
    As to what colours to chose, well let’s see. Green – oops, already taken. Yellow? Too cowardly. Orange. Too reminiscent of Trump. Magenta? Too airy, fairy. Violet? Pu-leeze! Pink? No, I don’t think so. Brown? The jokes write themselves. Man, this could get really hard. It would get both parties twisted in knots but on the bright side they would have no time pushing most Americans into partisan wars on their behalf.

  21. precariat

    Notable in “Strangers in Their Own Land” were the descriptions of environmental devastation caused by industrial businesses that had devastating consequences for homes, families and communities. The government (mostly state) regulators failed to do their jobs allowing the devastation to take place. While the industrial companies caused the devastation, it was the impotent or corrupt government regulators that betrayed their trust. The corporations offer a positive in the form of jobs, but the Louisiana government presents only a negative, a failure to protect its citizens. So a culture forms that regards government as not useful or worse, detrimental. Without this context it can seem as if the culture is irrational and against its own interests.
    My take away is what Stiglitz referred to as the loop of inequality: economic inequality begets political inequality or corruption which begets more economic inequality.

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      There is nothing natural about good government. It has to be painstakingly built and maintained. The saddest thing about the last 8 years here in Wisconsin has been watching rightwing politicians sh1t all over the best public servants/services I have ever experienced – not perfect but way better than any previous I had ever experienced – driving many of them away and making government less competent, thus making more true their claim that govt is not good.

  22. tongorad

    “Ironically,” Hochschild notes, “both call for an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work.

    Preamble to the IWW Constitution
    Instead of the conservative motto, “A fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work,” we must inscribe on our banner the revolutionary watchword, “Abolition of the wage system.”
    The working class and the employing class have nothing in common.

    1. jrs

      +1 What is “fair” is to be determined by who again, the employers who have all the power presently? So a “fair” days wage if it’s a living wage (newsflash $15 an hour is NOT necessarily enough to be a living wage) is incrementalism, incrementalism, liberalism, there are far worse things but ..

      IWW’s is the vision, the dream, the life worth fighting for.

  23. ape

    Start first at:

    This “can’t we all get along on the issues” misses some deep issues about how we organize our communities — valuing community over truth, for example, isn’t a difference of opinion, but a very deep and ultimately incommensurable gap.

    Which isn’t to say that fascist-enabling communities aren’t filled with nice people. Or that it’s impossible to find political solutions that remove the opportunity to enable fascists, turning those communities into normal conservative communities.

    But pretending that we’re all just basically the same isn’t helpful. Always remember, that the center-right enabled the far right in Europe in the 30s — full of nice, normal people, but who saw the world in ways that were very dangerous, under conditions that turned those views into horrifying realities.

    1. ape

      Remember, the Donald joked that he could shoot someone on 5th Ave and not lose any voters — and that didn’t lead him to lose support.

      That there’s a community who may on the surface seem to be “just like everyone else” — but in fact they find that joke funny, and support the spirit of it.

      It’s a deep misunderstanding. Take the “a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work”. It *seems* to be a point of agreement, but when combined with the view down rather than view up, it’s actually a deep point of disagreement. When “fair” is defined by the guys on top, rather than the folks doing the work, fair means the exact opposite for different communities.

      Square and round pegs are almost the same — but they’re really not!

  24. Adam Eran

    First: Characterizing liberals as “Nanny State Ninnies” (great name for a band!) who want government to handle all problems, and characterizing conservatives as anti-regulatory members of the “Adult Supervision” (ditto for band name) who want personal responsibility to handle all problems are about equally false. They are just lies.

    So…can one fight about that? Not if you want to change anyone’s opinion. Doctors having to deal with difficult patients–heart patients who didn’t want to take their medication, or do diet and exercise, addicts who didn’t want to quit the drugs, etc.–have come up with “Motivational Interviewing.”

    The link is to a video training for Citizens’ Climate Lobby, a group that seeks a bipartisan “Fee and Dividend” regime for the U.S….You know, one like Canada just passed, taxing carbon, then rebating the tax proceeds to the population.

    The Motivational Interviewing key concept: You can fight, argue, or seek partnership. Only the last of these is effective in persuading people to think or behave differently. The first two tend to harden the defiance.

    Man…I wish arguing were effective!

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