In these extremely divisive and dysfunctional times, I’m trying to maintain ongoing conversation with a few friends who have markedly different views on things than I do. It’s worth the effort—even though it’s really hard sometimes. At this particular time, with what I consider to be an wholly un-American tax bill ready to become reality, it’s really hard. But it’s really worth it.
Because inevitably, I find at least some common ground that I didn’t know existed. That my more conservative friends and I are irked by many of the same troubling things, and that we agree on what we’d like to see happen.
This happens most often when we leave out the discussion of particular politicians or public figures. When we don’t name-call or generalize about rich people or Hollywood or whatever. It’s when we have the courage to talk about what we really think rather than spout bullet points somebody on TV or radio feeds us.
Our friend Greg puts it this way: “We never talk about the plumbing anymore.”
His point: We just can’t talk about basic policies and problem solving without piling on a lot of ideological baggage. So we can’t, for example, talk about reducing corporate income taxes (that’s not progressive) while closing loopholes (that’s not pro-business), and have a discussion about what that would look like.
I think all the newsy cable channels make things worse—I don’t watch any of them anymore. They get rich off us, and I don’t really think one is much better than the other, though I’m supposed to. I get really angry and really dejected without their help. I look at the photo of my dad and his brothers taken when they were overseas during World War II, and I feel compelled to silently apologize for letting them down.