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Americans Agree On Many, If Not Most, Issues

Tyler Callister

Posted on November 25, 2017 15:45

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The Boston Globe suggests something I've been saying all along: Americans agree on more than we tend to think.

I was struck this week by an article written in the Boston Globe, and tweeted out by Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker thusly:

The "division" story, I've argued before, is largely a cultural creation. 

But tribalism now defines our politics — because it's easier (no need to research, think critically and decide on issues yourself), it's sexier (the media LOVES a good "divided America" story) and it's cruder (our mammalian brains evolved to have loyalty to our kin group). 

The problem is these ingredients all mix together to give you a sense that "division" runs like adrenaline through the American veins.

But how could that be? Have you ever actually reached out and punched a guy wearing a red "MAGA" hat? 

And would you really, if given the opportunity? 

In the Globe article, writer Dianne Hessan suggests that we may not live in such "divisive" times as we've been told. She polled 200 Clinton voters and 200 Trump voters with questions relating to recent news items, asking respondents to answer "true" or "false" to statements such as, "Money has too much influence on our politics," "Gerrymandering is unfair," "There should be increased regulation on automatic weapons," and "Russia tried to interfere with the US elections."

A full 80 percent agreed on the answers. 

Granted, the sample size of 400 people is somewhat small, and probably skews toward the types who follow the news closely. But it suggests that reasonably informed people have enough wisdom and intelligence to agree on no-brainer issues, no matter what tribe — Democrat or Republican or something else — they belong to. 

And here's what's fascinating: This is not some Kumbaya stuff about how we need to "come together" as Americans. The poll is evidence that we already agree on many important issues. 

It seems that when we make facts and reason the priority, with a splash of empathy, then a landscape of conversation opens up to us. And more often than not, agreement grows. 

So how can America wake up and see the ways in which we already agree?  

I'll give Hessan the last word here:

"As Thanksgiving approaches, perhaps we can commit to understanding one another rather than making assumptions about who our fellow citizens are. Perhaps there is still hope that our politicians will address our common concerns rather than conduct scorched-earth campaigns against each other. And perhaps there is a way to move forward by asking questions and empathizing, by talking instead of tweeting, and by thinking about the common ground that we share." 

Tyler Callister

Posted on November 25, 2017 15:45

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