Tag Archives: Democratic

Jeff Smith: The common ground is always there.

Jeff Smith has more experience in political conversation than most of us ever will. He believes that our neighborhood political conversations are better focus groups than those manufactured by political consultants, and that in those informal focus groups we can come to understand why our neighbors believe what they believe and—yes—counteract misinformation. His advice for productive political conversation: Establish trust by listening to find the common ground. Continue reading

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Are we debaters, salesmen, or citizens?

Members of my local grassroots club have better-than-average political conversation skills. That’s not surprising: Anyone who willingly attends  weekly political meetings gets more practice than the average person. And yet last week’s meeting was derailed by an all-too-common pitfall. When … Continue reading

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This is what democracy (without conversation) looks like.

The Progressive magazine’s Matt Rothschild recently visited Fort Atkinson to poll its residents about Tuesday’s recall election. Fort Atkinson is a town of about 13,000 between Madison and Milwaukee. Its biggest employer is health care; its crown jewel is the Fireside … Continue reading

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The loyalty of liberals

As the civic life of America dissolves into partisanship and dysfunction, I cannot think of anything more worthy of study than Americans’ civic values. Jonathon Haidt’s recently released book, The Righteous Mind, Why Good People are Divided by Politics and … Continue reading

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What I wish Obama would say for Trayvon and our fearful nation

Democrats have a harder time articulating their values than Republicans do. The Obama Administration’s response to the Trayvon Martin killing is, I think, an excellent example of a characteristically Democratic response. Obama himself has, at the time I’m writing, said … Continue reading

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The value of insincerity

The first steps in conflict-resolving communication often involve disguising or feigning certain emotions—that is, insincerity. Even when the ultimate goal is honest conversation, insincerity seems to be a useful skill in the early stages.  None of the experts (at least … Continue reading

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Resources for talking politics with friends and neighbors

These are the books and other resources I’ve found helpful so far in learning about interpersonal political communication. I intend to update and add to this list as my study progresses. Please let me know, in the comments section, about … Continue reading

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