Political Polarization: Seek First to Understand

America is now more politically polarized than at any point in the last 20 years. This isn’t just Congress – this is the American people. That polarization shows up in beliefs about politics, about everyday life, and even in where conservatives and liberals live. And it’s most intense in those who are the most politically engaged.

In this world, I believe it’s more important than ever to try to actually understand what people of the ‘other side’ are saying, and to seek comprehension and to assume some positive intent behind their viewpoint, at least at the outset. That may turn out to be incorrect. Sometimes it’s just fear or hatred. But mutual comprehension is an increasingly scarce resource, and mutual distrust an increasingly abundant one.

I also believe it’s a civic responsibility to praise good ideas from the ‘other side’ and to point out misunderstanding, error, or bad ideas on one’s own side. I realize that isn’t popular (believe me, I do) but I see it as necessary if we’re to rebuild any degree of mutual comprehension and trust.

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