What are your political conversations like?

Posted by on November 12, 2012 in Friendship, politics, world news | 7 comments

Just before the presidential election NPR’s This American Life had an episode titled “Red State Blue State” that talked about the well-known divide of right versus left in American politics.  It told stories of close friends and family members who don’t speak to each other anymore because of politics, then discussed a new book titled You’re Not as Crazy as I Thought (But You’re Still Wrong) by Jacob Hess (who is Mormon and conservative) and Phil Neisser (who is not religious and liberal).  Hess and Neisser believe that civilized, useful political dialogue is possible if the two parties stop trying to change each other and start listening.  I said something similar here recently.

So I wonder, are the contentious conversations I sometimes experience and that Hess and Neisser have written a book about the norm?  Or are they less common than they seem?  Please take our poll and let us know how you experience political conversations.

In the comments, please tell us what has worked for you to make your political discussions amicable.

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7 Comments

  1. When discussing politics, I mainly discuss it with like minded people (liberals) and keep my discussions with non-like minded people courteous. However, the big exception is with my older sister. She consistently derides my beliefs and says things like, “well… you’re young” and “I used to think that, but it’s wrong” etc. I find those sayings infuriating. So, we don’t talk politics very much – although this election season we did manage to agree on something. Todd Akin is an idiot. So… there you go.

    • To clarify, we agreed that Todd Akin’s statements about rape were idiotic.

  2. This is a great poll! It’s odd, I have had two people “un-friend” me on Facebook in the last 4 years because my political opinion differed from them. I kind of laughed about it at the time– they really can’t be my friend because of a different political opinion? I didn’t engage with them, I just stated why I made my choice, and moved on. But I guess they didn’t, though they also did not try to change my mind.

    The ironic thing was that my choice was more conservative, and both of these friends were very, very liberal. Made me wonder about the whole concept of tolerance; I rather LOVE that they voted for the other candidate because many of the values of the other candidate resonated with me. I still made a core and opposing choice for personal reasons, but I agreed with them for the reasons they were choosing the other candidate. So, to me, it just seemed very intolerant, yet each espoused tolerance as a primary reason for their political choice. It has left me pondering the whole thing because I still love these friends and am sad that they don’t feel likewise. Where is the tolerance that we all seem to seek? Still thinking on that one.

  3. I like having face to face conversations with people who I know and value. Doesn’t matter if we agree or not. I don’t like having these conversations on-line, because it frequently gets interrupted by rude people, who I don’t know or value, who like to score points instead of having a reasoned discussion.

  4. I was reading a post by Joanna Brooks, asking how we were feeling post election and one of the commenter stated that she came away that the feeling was not all conservatives were nuts, nor all liberals were bleeding hearts and then she stated that the most vitriolic comments came from people who left the church and then she proceeded to ask for empathy.

    I find that response rather odd because I think ALL sides, regardless of how conservative, or how liberal each stated group claimed to be, gave as good as they got, yet once again, because someone is no longer a member we get that special demonetization from members (person claimed they were a feminist liberal) who still believe.

    I think its really hard to ask for empathy when there is no real empathy given, especially, when certain groups are once again discounting the valid points of a certain group just because they are no longer a part of the larger main group. This doesn’t make my opinions, or anyone else’ any more, or any less valid.

    Personally, I found Rooney’s concession speech was condescending and rude.(Church lexicon speech) Especially, given the fact that he look for ways to contest the vote count in Ohio.

    I think as time progresses, this may or may not get worse. It gets confusing I think when people get messages from Church headquarters telling people they are free to choose who to vote for, yet, on the other hand the body politic generally vote conservative and local leaders push agendas that are clearly conservative(i.e) proclamation, and prop 8. And yet, I hope I am wrong, hopefully as the older members of the presidency change(from death, not wishing any ill will here) or release from calling, or ill health, that policies become more liberal, more tolerant, But, I just don’t think its gonna happen

  5. I have conversations with individuals whose political beliefs differ than mine so often, though I think I would prefer that I had them a little less often. It can be tiring.

    With one individual in my family it is a particularly sore spot in conversations. Because I am family, he is more concerned about my beliefs, than a non-relative might be. With others I can sometimes have quite peaceful dialogue, but then that also frequently means that I am treading very carefully on exactly how much I say.

  6. I can talk with anyone as long as they are not convinced that their way is the only way for everyone. And I’ve run into liberals as well as conservatives who are dogmatic and think that they have the only truth.

    I love the church teachings on personal stewardship and revelation, which make it very clear that there are a lot of situations where two people can think differently and be absolutely right, for each of them.

    I am very involved with a political group that is middle-of-the road, and thus we end up working with various groups for different issues. And it is an eye opener. That is where I first ran into liberal bigots, working on environmental issues, where I heard such insulting things about people who have more than one child, etc.

    But also, we worked with conservative faith-based groups on another issue, and they weren’t particularly comfortable having a Mormon in the room.

    My own family is large enough and polyglot enough that there are no real problems there. We can accept each other’s views without being threatened by them.

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