Thursday, March 23, 2017

No Man’s Land


Alien: Release … me. 
President Whitmore: I know there is much we can learn from each other, if we can negotiate a truce. We can find a way to co-exist. Can there be a peace between us?
Alien: Peace? No peace…
Whitmore: What is it you want us to do?
Alien: Die… Die…
  -- Independence Day, 20th Century Fox, 1996



Nuke ‘em.

Let’s nuke the bastards.

It’s the movie’s pivotal scene, right?

President Whitmore starts out a liberal peacenik. He’s a nice guy, kind of a young Jimmy Carter type. He’d served in the military once upon a time, flew fighter jets, but as a Fox News commentator says in the background of one scene “Americans thought they were getting a warrior, instead they elected a wimp!”

Then aliens invade the earth.

Whitmore comes face to face with the monster in a bunker under Area 51, the tentacles of its armored suit squeezed about Doctor Okun’s throat, working Okun’s brain telepathically like a broken puppet. We can co-exist, Whitmore pleads, we can have peace. No. No peace, says the alien. Die! Die! And then tries to invade Whitmore’s mind via telepathic assault.  The soldiers in the room shoot the alien monster down in a spray of bullets and as it lays dying on the floor, Whitmore turns to the generals and says,

I saw its thoughts. I saw what they're planning to do. They're like locusts. They're moving from planet to planet, their whole civilization. After they've consumed every natural resource they move on. And we're next. Nuke 'em. Let's nuke the bastards.

Let’s nuke the bastards.

No compromise. No way to co-exist. No peace between us. Die. Die.

That’s a great scene, isn’t it? I love that scene.

What brings this up?

That’s where we’re at, right?

Well, isn’t it?

That’s what you’re telling me. We see what they’re planning to do. They’re like locusts. They’re moving across the country now, consuming every natural resource, and we’re next. No peace. No compromise. Let’s nuke the bastards.

Sure, that’s it.

I’ve written two essays since the election, Bug Hunt and Red Sea, in which I suggested liberals and progressives are going to have to start compromising with conservatives.

I said Democrats are going to have to win over at least some of those red areas in the middle of the country.




I mean, it seems like it should be easy.  

Or if not easy, at least not an insurmountable task.

Look at all that red.

Look at it.

Red is Republican. Blue is Democrat. But the people who live there are conservative – even the liberals in those areas are comparatively conservative. The people in charge of those counties are conservatives. The voters in those counties send conservative senators and representatives to their conservative state congresses.  Those conservative state governments in turn appoint the conservative electors who select the president. And that president now has a willing Congress of his own, made up in the majority of … conservatives.

But here’s the thing: A lot of those conservatives really hate what’s happened to modern conservatism.

They do.

They’re no fans of the de facto conservative party, i.e. the GOP, Republicans.

And yet – and yet – many of them voted for the people who appointed the electors who selected Donald Trump and even though they can’t stand the guy, they voted for him because they’d much rather have him than a Democrat.

They would rather have a guy that they can’t stand, than a Democrat.

Think about that. They would rather have Trump than a “liberal.”


Well that is the question, isn’t it?

As I noted in both Bug Hunt and in Red Sea, they’re afraid.

Now I’m sure I’ll get angry denials. We’re not afraid! The messages will say.

But they are. 

Sure they are.

We’re all afraid of something. There’s no shame in admitting that. Liberals, progressives, the Left, they have their own exhaustive list of things they’re afraid of, things they fear will come from this administration.

But we’re talking about those red areas in the middle of the country and there? There, as I noted in the previous essay, conservatives are afraid transgender people will assault their daughters in public restrooms.

Yes, they are. That’s exactly what they’re afraid of, don’t take my word for it, go read any newspaper in North Carolina and see for yourself.

They don’t know any transgender people. They don’t understand transgender. Hell, to be perfectly candid, it’s hard for me to understand because I’ve always been comfortable in my own skin. But I’m at least trying to understand. They aren’t. They don’t want to. They look at Caitlyn Jenner and they see a creepy dude in a skirt. A tranny from Pornhub. It’s the joke from their childhood, Flip Wilson as Geraldine. They think transgender is a hairy-knuckled pedophile in a dress, some creeper who wants to sneak into the girls bathroom and molest their daughters.

And they think liberals would rather side with, hell enable, a sexual predator than protect their kids.

Now, that’s not what transgender is. You know it and I know it, but Democrats haven’t done a damned thing to dissuade conservatives of their fear.



They’re afraid gay people want to get married in their churches.

They mostly don’t give a damn if gay people get married, or at least they’ve resigned themselves to same sex marriage. But they’re afraid the next step is the Big Gay Agenda being forced into their churches, just like their restrooms and locker rooms. They’re honestly afraid that a liberal in power will force their religion to not only accept LGBT people, but make the church actively promote “The Gay Lifestyle” (whatever the hell that is) from the pulpit.

And Democrats haven’t done a damned thing to dissuade them of this idea.

They’re afraid foreigners with strange accents and religions and ideas will come to take over their towns.

Now, sure, this isn’t anything new. Every settled culture is afraid it will be replaced. And no, no, the people who still speak with a Dutch accent in Western Michigan or a Norwegian one in Minnesota, the people down at the local small town pizza parlor, or the folks cheering on the local St. Paddy’s Day parade, or enjoying a meal in San Francisco’s Chinatown or Chicago’s  Little Italy or grabbing lunch from a taco truck, no, no they don’t see the irony. So, yes, the same people who enjoy a good falafel or some shawarma from their local kebob shop, or think nothing of hopping into a cab driven by a guy from Pakistan, or buy a sixer of Bud Light from some brown skinned Muslim down at the local minimart, can still be terrified that those people are somehow stealing their culture.

(note: that last example is from personal experience. I stopped in a very rural liquor store. I couldn’t find what I wanted. So I asked the brown-skinned Middle Eastern looking woman behind the counter. Her English was passible but not extensive so she called her husband from the back. He’d never heard of the brand I was looking for either. So they had me spell it out. They carefully wrote it down and asked detailed questions since, they explained, as Muslims neither of them could consume alcohol themselves and thus had no direct experience. And they kindly promised to carry the brand should I happen by again).

Despite the fact that we are a nation of immigrants or maybe because of it and therefore know how mass immigration can change a culture, many Americans are terrified of how immigrants will impact our way of life – even though ironically the things many of us enjoy most about our culture are those very traditions imported from elsewhere via our immigrant forbearers.

For many, the words “immigrant” and “refugee” and “illegal alien” and “criminal” are all interchangeable.

And because of that, they’re afraid illegal aliens who slipped into America across unprotected borders will come to take their jobs. They’re afraid terrorists who slipped unvetted into America disguised as refugees will murder them in their places of worship or their shopping malls or their businesses. They’re afraid gangs of criminals, foreigners who have no loyalty to America and no desire to assimilated into our culture, will come from the cities to kick in their doors.

And Democrats haven’t done a damned thing to dissuade people of this fear.

They’re afraid liberal teachers are going to turn their children against them and away from their heritage.

In truth, this is something all parents fear to some degree.

But many conservatives are afraid liberal teachers are brainwashing their kids into hating America, into hating white people, into hating “our” history and religion and culture. 

Many of these people have been tricked into believing any criticism, any unblinking look at our mistakes, anything but unquestioning loyalty, is embarrassing and unpatriotic and treasonous.  Worse, a foundation of critical thought often leads children to question the world around them, to challenge sacred beliefs, and seek deeper truths in areas many adults – many Americans – would just as soon remain out of sight and out of mind. It’s damned hard to talk honestly about Manifest Destiny or slavery or WWII internment camps or previous waves of immigration without pain, without guilt, without uncomfortable truths.

When a kid asks a parent why we were attacked on September 11th, 2001, the answer is simple: because the terrorists hate us for our Freedom, that’s why.

Because they hate us for our freedom.

That’s a kid’s answer. That’s an America Oorah! answer. Simple. Easy to understand. They hate us because they ain’t us.

But when a kid asks a teacher, well, the answer is anything but simple and easy.

When a kid asks a teacher why the US was attacked by Muslims on 9-11, the answer is complicated and involves a hundred years of failed foreign policy and wars of colonialism and conquest and oil and money and ideology and religions and has nothing whatsoever to do with our supposed freedoms. They hate us because we blew up their country, because we killed their families, because we sided with their enemies, because we came to their land seeking riches and power and we don’t really give a damn about them so long as we get what we need for our civilization.


What’s that?

You disagree? You violently disagree? You’re instantly pissed off? You think what I said about the causal effects of 9-11 make it sound like we somehow deserved it? Like it was our fault?


Well, that’s my point exactly. No, not that America – or any country – deserves terrorism and mass murder, but rather your reaction. Your outrage at my phrasing. We can’t look at history dispassionately and without taking it as a personal affront.

Which is why we keep making the same mistakes over and over. But I digress.

Let me use a different example: Nowhere is the difference between how Americans see their history more stark than the issue of slavery.

It seems to me that slavery is the one thing we can all agree on. I mean, it should be, right?

Sure, there were many reasons for slavery. There were a thousand reasons people used to justify slavery as an institution. Certainly slavery helped build this country and shaped its culture and traditions and prejudices and outlooks and civil rights and its impact is still being felt today. But even though slavery was once acceptable – even the norm – it no longer is. We’ve advanced as a civilization and it should be the one thing we can all agree on without reservation. Slavery is evil. Slavery is wrong. Slavery is terrible. We should all be able to agree on that, black, white, left, right, conservative, liberal, Democrat, Republican, all of us should be able to agree that slavery is a horrible blot on our history.

But we don’t.

As soon as it comes up, a certain segment of Americans reflexively become slavery apologists.

Sure, slavery was bad, they rationalize, but hey, look at all the good things that … and I’m left standing there, mouth agape, boggling at anyone who feels somehow that they must rationalize this horrible thing solely because discussing it honestly within the context of our modern enlightenment is just too goddamned painful and embarrassing and guilt inducing.

People of strength and moral character acknowledge unpleasant truths with unflinching determination and use it to make a better future, one where they don’t hate us because they ain’t us.

But many see that unflattering truth as an attempt to paint America as a villain and they just can’t get beyond it, they’re afraid that if our children are taught that unvarnished truth, then they’ll somehow hate their own country, their own culture, their own traditions and people and parents.

And Democrats haven’t done a damned thing to dissuade people of that fear.

They’re afraid the government is coming to take their guns, their freedom, their rights.


And democrats really haven’t done a damned thing at all to dissuade conservatives of those fears. Not really.

Most of all, the people in that sea of red are afraid that their voices are being ignored in Washington.

And Democrat politicians can’t dissuade conservatives of that fear because it’s true.

Their voices are being ignored. 

And so are ours.

That’s not my interpretation, that’s their words, their fears, nearly verbatim. They said so. They continue to say so, in every man-on-the-street interview. At every Trump rally. On Facebook. On Twitter. On Instagram. On Fox & Friends. On Breitbart. In the Wall Street Journal. On the signs in their front yards.

And, yes, some of those conservatives are pretty damned deplorable. They are, no doubt.


But not all.

Not even a majority.

Many, many conservatives are just as disgusted with Trump, with the Republican Party, with the Democratic Party, with the country, as liberals are.

To be honest, many conservatives didn’t really believe Trump would be as horrible as he’s turning out to be.

You remember, right?

Sure, they were the ones telling the rest of us, it’ll be okay, you’ll see, he’ll pivot once the election is over, he’ll be more presidential, he’ll stop the bombast and the tweets and the pussy grabbing. You’ll see.

Of course that was wishful thinking.

Of course that didn’t happen.

Of course it didn’t.

And sure, there’s certainly some schadenfreude to be had here. Ha ha, told you so. Absolutely. But if you can see past that, well, you’ll realize those conservatives are just as disgusted as you are, and maybe even more so since they were the ones who got suckered.

But they continue to vote for Republicans because the alternative, so they believe, is worse.

So it seems to me it should be easy.

Or at least if not easy then not insurmountable.  

It seems Democrats have a historic opportunity, a moment when moderate conservatives could be given a choice other than dogmatic partisanship, if the left can pull together, can reach out, can compromise, and can but convince them that their guns and their bibles will be safe. If Democrats can address those fears up above in an honest manner and put them firmly to rest, then now, this moment right here, is an opportunity to prove that the alternative is better.


But here’s the kicker: that’s the easy part.


The problem isn’t conservatives.

Or at least not just conservatives.

You see, in those previous two essays and up above the word I used was compromise.


I know there is much we can learn from each other, if we can negotiate a truce. We can find a way to co-exist. Can there be a peace between us?

And the overwhelming response was … no.

No. Not from conservatives. But from liberals.


- I don’t think you know what compromise means!

- When you talk about compromising with the GOP, as it currently exists, what does that mean for you personally? What do you see yourself sacrificing as an individual? You don't have a uterus. You are not black, brown, Muslim, or LGBT […]

- […]What do YOU risk, Wright? Nothing! But nice job mansplaining, condescending prick […]

- […]I agree with you in principle about compromising, but in practice I'm finding this a little difficult. Almost anything we give up is going to hurt somebody. Who do we abandon, or throw to the wolves? It's all too easy to say, well, that issue isn't a big deal, if it doesn't affect us personally. It's a different story when it does.


- I don't expect this comment to get posted, I just want to communicate with you: Wow, Jim, I'm really disappointed with you for the first time. This essay reminds me of a boss who used to yell at us in our weekly team meeting about not showing up at the weekly team meeting. Hel-lo? Why are you yelling at us? *WE'RE* the ones who DO show up. And I, for one, am tired of being lectured about this when I have never missed *ANY* election since the time I was eligible to vote. I'm also tired of the endless apologia for poor white Trump voters. I live in one of the most affluent counties of America, and the McMansions and estates were positively lousy with Trump campaign signs. The only thing these people were frightened of was that some dark-skinned person might possibly get a nickel more than they "deserved" as a dark-skinned person. It is they, more than the types of Trump voters you cite, who are the problem.

- You can’t compromise with evil!

- And what's your's Jim. I like most of what you write, but too often on this topic you just revert to centrist pablum. As others have said; it's not compromise when only one side is compromising.

- I agree with some of this, but I have a problem with the argument that we are all the same. Statistics show the real gung-ho Trump supporters are white men without a college degree. I think education and diversity of experiences plays a huge part in how we are different. I come from a very rural, impoverished part of Michigan, and I know people who get stuck in that cycle of poverty and lack of education. I'm not like them. There's a fundamental difference in world view. Studies show we don't enjoy the same sorts of entertainment, and so on. Perhaps this is my go to cause for problems with almost everything, but it's a lack of education that's at the root of it.


- Okay, so what do we say to those who view politics as theater, fear mongering as amusement, who chuckle when liberals and independents concerns are played out by Mr Trump? What do we say to the farmers who thought Mr Trump wouldn't follow through on his threat to deport en masse the illegals and the unwanted? And further, what do we do when the fear is irrational, that belief has replaced facts, and that dismissive rhetoric is considered a good enough explanation for ridiculous policies? Compromise is a two way street, Mr Wright, and when one party demands the other yield...That's not an invitation for compromise, that's a demand for surrender.

- These people have let Republicans lie to them to their faces for decades. They see the terrible results of right wing policies over long periods of time, especially in the South. And they still vote for the bullshit every single time. There is no reasoning and no compromise with this single minded stupidity.

- Pretending you can get people to turn from their tribalism by being reasonable is what got us in this mess in the first place.



- Time to play hardball.

It’s not us. It’s them.

We’re the good ones, they’re the bad ones.

You can’t compromise unless you’re going to lose something too.

If fact, you can’t compromise unless all sides lose equally and all sides  gain equally, we have to keep score.

You can’t compromise with single minded stupidity. You can’t compromise with evil. You can’t compromise if somebody gets hurt. You can’t compromise with people who won’t compromise. You can’t compromise if you’re too centrist – because that’s somehow bad. We can’t compromise with people who got suckered because really fuck those people. We can’t compromise with people who aren’t the same as us.  We can’t compromise because the other side is stupid and evil and unAmerican and horrible hunchbacked stinking black-eyed oily-skinned trolls who eat babies and worship Satan and  who are against everything we believe in Goddamnit! We can’t compromise! No way, no how, and fuck you. No. Hell no. Time to play hardball. No compromise. No peace! No peace! Nuke ‘em! Let’s nuke the bastards! Die! Die!


And so where does that leave us?

No peace.

No compromise.

No middle ground.

Where does that leave us?


No really, look at that map and tell me, what does that leave?

You won't compromise. You can’t. 

Because you don't believe there are any rational conservatives left to compromise with.

That sea of red, that’s the enemy. You’ve written them off. That’s the evil. You can’t compromise with evil. If they’re afraid, if they voted for Trump, fuck ‘em they deserve no sympathy, no attempt at understanding. No peace. Die.

And so where does that leave you?

Where does it leave you if you regard half the country as The Enemy?

If you don’t believe the system can be salvaged?

If, hell, you don’t believe the system is worth salvaging, it’s rotten and corrupt and can’t be fixed?

If you believe the game is rigged and you don’t believe you can win via legal means?

If you believe the opposition is illegitimate and therefore not worthy of consideration or any respect?

They hate you and you hate them and there can be no peace between you.

You will not compromise.

They will not compromise.

So what's your plan? Where does that leave us? Where do we go next? What options do we have?

Do you march on Washington with your guns and tri-corner hats?

Do you rise up in violent revolution? 

Secession and civil war?

A coup d'état?

Do you find yourself a disgraced scientist and a daredevil pilot to fly a stolen alien craft loaded with nuclear weapons straight into the mothership in a mad suicide mission, one last desperate gamble, and winner take all in the radioactive ruins? And when you succeed, assuming that you do, and you seize power, what then? What comes then? What do you do with the people you can’t compromise with? Purges? Genocide? Ghettos? Reeducation camps? Mass deportation? Imposition of your ideals via the muzzle of a gun? How will your force those conquered people who you cannot compromise with to comply?

How long do you think you can hold it, assuming you are able to seize the reins of power in the first place?

How stable do you think such a country would be? How productive? How innovative? How free?

Or are these more of those unpleasant truths we don’t want to face? 


I used the word compromise on purpose.


I used it deliberately and with malice aforethought.

I used it knowing what would happen, how you’d react.

I used it because I knew, I knew, that it would provoke a visceral reaction. I used it because it’s as much a trigger for many of you as it is for those you despise. You hear compromise and instantly your teeth are bared and your fists are clenched. No. No compromise. It’s not up to us to compromise, it’s up to them! No. No compromise. No peace. Die!

But, you see, in those paragraphs describing civil war and reeducation camps up above, the partisan you isn’t identified and as such those statements could apply equally well to the other side – and do.

I said I wasn’t asking you to compromise with hate, but with fear.

You’re just playing with semantics, you yelled back. How do you compromise with those who won’t compromise? How?

How? Well, of course, you don’t.

How do you compromise with hate and unreason?

You can’t.

Nowhere did I suggest that any of us should compromise with neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan, with haters and bigots, and gun waving fanatics or dimwitted goons. 

Nowhere did I suggest you should give up your civil rights, your freedom, or your integrity.

But that’s exactly what a number of people thought as soon as they heard the word compromise. Because just like conservatives, liberals hear the word compromise and they’ll be damned if they’ll budge.

Folks, I submit to you that there are far, far more reasonable people, on both sides, standing closer to the middle than to the edges and the only thing which really divides those people one from the other is … fear.

And yes, it’s true that hate cannot be reasoned with.

It can be burned down, shot, bombed from the sky, plowed under, locked up, marginalized until it starves to death, but it can not be reasoned with.

Fear, however, can.

And so perhaps compromise was the wrong word even though it served my purpose.

Regardless of what words I use, we – all of us – must find a way to address that fear. The fear that is tearing our country, our people, our civilization apart.

Not dismiss, not mollify, but address honestly and in good faith no matter how painful and unpleasant.

You know, it’s funny. I came from the Heartland, the Midwest. I spent my life in the ultimate bastion of conservatism, the military. I lived in Alaska, the reddest of the Red States. I live now in the Panhandle of Florida among conservatives. I talk to these people. I eat with these people. I drink with these people. I’m related to these people. Those things up above? Many reasonable conservatives don’t really give a damn about those things. Not really. They want the same things you do, peace, security, safety, good paying jobs, decent schools and decent neighbors, bridges that don’t fall down, clean water, clean air, safe food, affordable healthcare, respect, pride, and it’s likely that we, left and right, have more in common than we don’t.

Look out there. What do you see?

Republican politicians can’t even talk to their own people.

Republican politicians are afraid, terrified, to face their own people in a town hall.

Doesn’t that suggest to you an opportunity?

When I talk to conservatives, the reasonable ones, it seems their ideals and the things that are important to them – really important -- are far closer to that of the Democratic or Independent parties than to the platform of the GOP. But they all say the same thing: I can’t vote for a Democrat. I can’t vote for a liberal.

Because of all those fears, it’s being labelled a liberal they fear the most.

Change that

… and you change the map.

David Levinson: You really think you can fly that thing?
Captain Steven Hiller: You really think you can do all that bullshit you just said?
-- Independence Day

Yes I do.


  1. John F. Kennedy
    “If by a "Liberal" they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people-their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights and their civil liberties-someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal", then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal.”

    ― John F. Kennedy, Profiles in Courage

    1. I agree with that statement - but responding to a red state Trump supporter with that quote says to them that the are not any of those things - in essence, they are backward, stupid and cruel. Not going to come together that way!

    2. I wonder if all those Trump voters define "liberal" the same way. Before we use the terms "liberal" and "conservative" I think both sides need to come to agreement about their meanings. I suspect that each side defines them quite differently.

    3. Only in this insane world can I speak of attributes and ethics I strive to live by and that somehow is an insult to those that don't.

      I will comfort a fearful person or animal but, that comfort ends when they harm another.

    4. What we're up against in the non-compromise from the right - a theological refusal to compromise, to fail to do their duty to God as they understand him: https://chrisstroop.com/2017/03/06/educated-evangelicals-academic-achievement-and-trumpism-on-the-tensions-in-valuing-education-in-an-anti-intellectual-subculture/

    5. Excellent point, sgarcata. I can't remember, much less count, all of the conversations I've had that were improved immensely by someone stopping and saying "wait, are we using these terms the same way?" or *would have* been improved if some *had* done so.

      It doesn't matter whether the conversations were political, personal, or professional - sometimes the *only* problem is one of definitions and interpretations.

  2. IDK. I think, if a voting adult with all the information in the modern era is still scared of gay marriage, thinks trans people are sexual predators, wants to restrict bodily autonomy, and wants to keep guns without any restriction because The Government...even if those things are coming from fear rather than hate, I don't think that fear may be reasoned with.

    I mean, you're welcome to try. It's your time and there are likely worse windmills to tilt at. I'm planning to concentrate on protesting, anti-gerrymandering efforts (a lot of the red counties on that map count for about a tenth of the blue ones, population-wise), and GOTV stuff, myself, because I don't have any hope for someone who's made it past eighteen while still spouting off about But The Second Amendment SAAAAYS and ZOMG SCARY MUSLIMS.

    I'm not for civil war or reeducation camps. Demographics show that nature (most Trump voters and Fox News types are old) and social pressure (when expressing bigoted views loses you friends and business, most people stop expressing them, and they become Not Okay for the next generation) will take care of the issue.

    1. See, here's the thing. That IF you put before (having) all the information in the modern era is a giant, giant if. And giving that information to someone who's been fed misinformation can't just be an image macro, a table of statistics from a source they DON'T KNOW is so, so much more trustworthy than what they've heard all their life.

    2. Agreed. You can't make people think critically after a certain point. They got us into this mess and they're not going to get us out.

    3. @Sean: I don't know, I don't have a lot of sympathy for adults who never bothered practicing critical thinking or basic Google.

      Again: if other people want to play kindergarten teacher and hope actual information gets through the screen of But Jesus/But Baybeez/But Freedom/But Relitigating The Goddamn Sixties, Again, Still, go them. I think there are better uses of my time and effort, and it's like trying to rationally argue with anti-vaxxers or people who legit think Prince Edward was Jack the Ripper. Every conversation I've had with a GOPlibertarian pretty much supports this conclusion.

    4. Unfortunately the knee-jerk fear is on both sides of the aisle; I thought the stereotype of the gun-hating librul was a strawman until I got into a discussion with a friend of a friend who genuinely believed that guns were, simpliciter, evil and needed to be banned in private ownership. Not dangerous tools that should be treated with respect and care, but actually morally loaded in and of themselves.

    5. The hole in your argument is most of the things people aren't supposed to talk about are still talked about home, in the tree stand, in the head, etc. The anti-black bias we still see should have died out by now, if your assertion were true. Alas, it's not; hate and fear breed just like people do...

    6. See though, the information in the modern era taylors itself to what you show it you like. Facebook algorithms bring you reading material that reflects your previous viewing, and drops it in your lap. It would take effort and discipline to research opposing viewpoints. So it may not be accurate that they are in a deliberate state of being misinformed or uninformed. That's the flaw of the information age, it's grossly driven by money and clicks, while subtly feeding our confirmation bias that was there to begin with. That's why it's a good idea to talk to the moderate conservatives, show them information that isn't in their newsfeed.

      I failed utterly this week with one guy, I should have tried harder, but I got hung up on the dizzying hypocrisy in his comment and couldn't let go. And now the thread is gone. Opportunity over. I didn't do our side any favors, that's for sure.

  3. hmm, the only issue I'd note is that the red map, while true in terms of electoral results, isn't a true reflection of our culture and society. Iowa, where I'm from, for example, has large chunks of progressive folks... and this is true in other states as well.

    Part of the reason the map exists as it is has to do with gerrymandering, voter suppression, etc. Not that your points are not true, but I felt to say that even if we'd convinced more of the more reasonable conservatives (and they do exist) with compromise, we'd be in trouble still. Because there's a significant percentage of conservatives who only care about getting and keeping power by any means necessary.

    Hell, even the GOP is finding that out with their FREEDOM CAUCUS, which doesn't want to compromise on anything...

    So while I understand your point, I think that was something worth acknowledging as well. But I also don't have any suggestions for changing it.

    I do believe more of our population is more liberal than it seems (and, hell, more liberal that it itself even realizes) and that if we did't have the EC and made voting mandatory, this would show itself.

    but that's just my take.

    1. I never said that map was a true representation of our culture and society.

      I said that map is how the country voted this time around -- whether that is from gerrymandering or voter fraud or just because a lot of people really hated Hillary Clinton is irrelevant. That's how the country voted.

      Joshua, you're engaged in unicorn hunting here: if we didn't have the EC and made voting mandatory....

      You're talking about how it ought to be. I'm talking about how it is.

      If you want to make it how it ought to be, then you have to WIN first.

    2. I don't know that I'd label it as unicorn hunting. I mean, changing the EC seems to be at least as reasonable as compromising with flat earthers who believe that the govt faked the moon landing :)

      But my point was that you're talking about reaching the people... I don't disagree with you on that.... where i disagree with you is who, exactly, we're reaching and how outnumbered we are... you know what I mean?

    3. But I absolutely DO agree with the below point that the Democrats need to be much better and showing what they stand for and less focus on what they're against.

    4. Only if you believe land area votes. A map corrected by population would look much different.

      While it is good not to vilify opponents, we should also not descend into coddling people who voted for Trump for a variety of terrible or purposefully ignorant reasons.

    5. Jim said it all with ....WIN FIRST!

  4. With respect, Jim, fix "succession", it should be "secession".

    Good article.

    1. Jim
      This single sentence paragraph:

      And Democrats haven’t don’t a damned thing to dissuade them of this idea.

  5. In order to compromise you need a position... and Democrats have done a great job of explaining what they're against ("Republicans") but done nothing to articulate what they actually stand for ... Republican supporters have lots of great soundbites about what they're going to do (bullshit or not) but Democrats... right now, they're a party without a strategy they can articulate. Not an elevator pitch, not a stump speech and certainly not a cohesive set of policies about how to move forward.

    1. I find it hard to belief that you don't think Dems articulate what they stand for. This is a trope that the GOP roles out time after time. But it isn't true.

    2. You are right . However, as soon as you try to talk to a conservative about the (few) liberal/progressive ideas, first thing he/she calls you is socialist or commie. Well, all my enthusiasm in debating is gone. Maria Jose Silva

    3. The Democratic Party needs to state positive things they are for, not specific little categories. Like "we believe that each person has the right to a living wage, good health care and the right to worship as they wish.We believe all children have the right to a free education that is just as good as any other child's in the country. We believe that the military should only tisk their lives if we are directly attacked or Congress votes in favor of a military action. We will support other countries who are our friends, and ask congress to censure those who are not our friends. Campaigns for government will not have any funding from any corporation, PAC or private person. All funds must come from privateparties for amounts no more than $1000 per person. Corporations are not persons!"
      Just some ideas for a democratic platform that is inclusive, but not in your face.

    4. Well, that sounds a lot like Bernie's platform. But I'm not sure that he could have won, either. Dirty tricks were afoot in that election. Just sayin'.

  6. I generally agree with you -- except for one thing. You show that map as a demonstration of "look at all the red we need to convince" -- and it's a false message, because all of that red has slightly fewer people in it than the areas that are blue (which are clustered in higher-population counties).

    That's not a "lot of red", that's a "lot of city-sized fields with like 6 people living on them."

    I know because I live in that little blue dot on the eastern side of Kansas.

    Aside from the false impression that there's this vast population of red that we need to convince (honestly, there are more people who didn't vote at all then there are GOP voters, and perhaps we'd be better off trying to convince them...), you're right. The Democrats need to come out and say "we're not invading your churches, we're not coming for your guns" -- the Right won't believe them, but if they say it often enough, perhaps enough of the Center-Right will.

    1. How's that winning the majority vote working out for you?

      Look, I'm not trying to be an ass here, but Democrats have now won the majority vote TWICE and still lost the election in recent years.

      It doesn't matter if it's a "lot of city-sized fields with like 6 people in them" when the Electoral College was designed specifically to prevent states with huge populations from dominating the vote.

      THAT'S what that map represents.

    2. Mandatory voting may or may not be the answer. I believe that people will vote if they believe that they have a dog in the fight and the dog has a chance of winning. We have to convince people that they can change things and influence policy. And that their vote counts. Right now too many believe the system is rigged or broken. :(

    3. Agreed. I have friends and coworkers across the political spectrum. Some of them will never be convinced that liberals aren't coming for their guns. Hell, if I bought them ammunition and a gift card for a new firearm, they still wouldn't believe it. Fox News is the single biggest reinforcer of these "conservative" ideas. I think the left needs an ad campaign that runs year round -- little educational commercials similar to School House Rock. Here's how we think things work. We want to get along. Freedom of religion and freedom from religion for everybody. A repeated message of inclusion and education just might get us to where we need to go.

    4. No, my point is that there aren't that many people to convince in that map. Because of population. So the job is not as insurmountable as the map suggests.

      To use my "6 people in a city-sized field", 2 of them voted GOP, 1 of them voted Democrat, and 3 of them didn't vote. That doesn't take much convincing -- and honestly? We're probably better off talking to the 3 who didn't vote than the 2 who are being fed a constant diet of fear and won't listen to us, because they're told we're out to get them.

    5. Actually they already have a PSA with John Cena which frankly I think should be aired in full length randomly throughout the day. It airs now, but in a short form that to me just doesn't convey the message well enough.

      Irony is I saw a brief FB exchange between my 22 y/o nephew and my conservative sister, whereby he told her "Mom I have a hard time reconciling what you and the church taught me growing up and what this man is spouting."

      It was enlightening.

    6. Maybe you should put equal energy into talking about voter disenfranchisement and gerrymandering.

    7. I agree about saying it enough times. I do think that is an area where the GOP wins out. They are very good at repeating their talking points ad nauseam. Most liberals I know are willing to listen and debate points and principles rather than parrot party line talking points.

  7. Totally not what I expected ​from a man who plugs in his cat. That aside this is a well thought out compelling read. I agree wholeheartedly. There must be compromise. I love your writing style. Its so different from the snark of your Twitter posts, which I also enjoy. I especially love the snark..Cuz well I'm an asshat at heart

  8. Since I'm being quoted directly in this one... I dislike being quoted out of context. I especially dislike it when it doing so does not convey my actual message. Here, for reference is the entirety of what I wrote, which was an invitation to expand, not a vilification.

    Hi Jim,

    I have a question about the Red Sea essay. Please do not "hear" this in the whiny internet voice. I am asking in good faith and with genuine interest.

    When you talk about compromising with the GOP, as it currently exists, what does that mean for you personally? What do you see yourself sacrificing as an individual?

    You don't have a uterus. You are not black, brown, Muslim, or LGBT. You are reasonably middle-class and in reasonably good health (afaik).

    So, if you were to model compromise with the current administration, what would you be willing to personally give up, and in exchange for what? The primary issue I see affecting you personally is the journalist First
    Amendment stuff. Is free press/free speech something you are willing to compromise? If so, how far, and in exchange for what?


    And later, after the first post that appeared to take issue with the type of message I sent:

    Hi Jim,

    If your post about risk was in response to my email in whole or in part, please allow me to apologize for failing to communicate clearly. My questions to you were meant in no way to be contemptuous, dismissive, or intended as a challenge. You have strong opinions, good communication skills, and a perspective that I have no way to replicate. I honestly wanted to know where you felt your risk lay and how you would evaluate the cost/benefit to compromising in that regard. I wanted to know these things for the purpose of extrapolating your position to perspectives that I do occupy. I do not believe that you have no skin in the game, or that your opinion is irrelevant, and I did not mean to imply otherwise.

    1. You weren't quoted out of context. You were quoted verbatim in the exact context of the essays in question.

      Whether or not you intended your comment as a challenge, that's exactly what it is when you qualify your comment with "You don't have a uterus. You are not black, brown, Muslim, or LGBT. You are reasonably middle-class and in reasonably good health."

  9. The other thing I'd note, and this is strictly anecdotal, is that I don't know that fear can be compromised with, to be honest. Fear wants what it wants for irrational reasons, mostly, and that's not something that can be compromised with.

    It can be treated, I believe, worked around and dealt with, but not compromised with.

    This is true if you've ever known anyone with a true fearful phobia, for example. There's no real compromise, the person suffering from it is in a state that doesn't allow compromise, they only want the bad thing / experience, / what's causing the fear to be pushed and shoved away. even when they know they're wrong rationally, they simply are in the grip of something that goes beyond reason.

    so I agree they're fearful. But I don't know that compromise is the thing that will work. I think the best way to to demonstrate to those who aren't in too deep that there's nothing to fear. That's what's been going on for ages with the gay community (and it's fascinating that a lot of the homophobia has been redirected to the trans community, even though many of them are, uh... sometimes not even gay, just trans)...

    They finally realized that homosexuals are simply just people, and that's how it worked. That they got married, had kids and did everything that straights did. That fear was then transferred to trans folk, who dress up and look weird and are a more convenient "other" for their fear and paranoia. But I don't know that it's possible to compromise with the haters on that issue, not without taking away the rights of trans people.

    Don't ask, don't tell was a compromise, after all, and I don't believe it really worked. What worked was when the military just finally said, hey, gays are okay here. Deal with it.

    Again, just my opinion.

    1. It can be treated, I believe, worked around and dealt with, but not compromised with

      Dude, you're killing me here.

      You're a writer, so I know you know what the word means. Worked around and dealt with is just another way to say compromise.

      Look, as I explained in the text, I used compromise on purpose. As a trigger. Because I knew what would happen. And just as I expected, liberals do what they always do, i.e. chase themselves around a pole over a goddamned word while the world is in flames behind them.

    2. Well, if it was intended as a trigger, then I guess I didn't view it as you hoped. Because I'm not triggered, I'm simply trying to understand, by your point, was you meant by compromised.

      I mean, I used DADT as an example of compromised... did you have something in mind to deal with the fear with these folks?

      I'm not here to kill ya, don't really have time of that, and I like having you around... as you noted, I'm a writer, as you are, and I'm responding to your ideas and not trigger words... at least, that's what my goal is.

    3. Ah, I get it. Sorry for my misunderstanding.

      When you work around something, it's not two parties compromising, it's one party compromising in acknowledgement of the fear and paranoia of the other.

      I get where I missed your point.

      Trigger word, hmm. I guess. I don't know. I just thought that compromise between political parties was a different thing, but I can see now you were aiming for something else.

    4. Right. Re: triggered, see some of the comments below. Tristan's for example.

    5. To say out loud, repeatedly, where everyone can hear, "No, your church doesn't have to marry same sex couples," doesn't seem to me to be compromise. It's making the freedom of religion and the separation of church and state clear.

      Sometimes you really, really need Captain Obvious.

    6. Well, it certainly is one form of old school Socratic (sp) type of writing, wherein you state something deliberately to inflame... I know many professors who've written well by that type of dialoguing.

      it's just never been my thing, to me, I find it eventually wears at me.

      But I don't do the same kind of writing that you do, so I'm not making judgments on you, just explaining why your use of compromise didn't register for me. I took it at its face value, in a sense.

      But I get it, plus I don't have to deal with the same shit you do, either, in terms of reader feedback. I have to deal with a whole other kinda shit :)

    7. I didn't really mean it to inflame, Joshua. I meant it more to invoke a response that I could use to point out a similarity between left and right. BOTH hate that word and react with nearly identical invective, it's not US, it's THEM.

  10. I live in the very last predominantly Democratic precinct in Harris county Texas, along Highway 290. From here on out to the outskirts of Austin it is solid RED! A lot of work ahead of us.

  11. Early on after the election, I said this happened because people do not feel heard. They feel forgotten and afraid. Their jobs are gone and their way of life is slipping away. If we have any hope of changing their hearts, we must soften our. We must treat them with the compassion we demand they treat those we recognize as marginalized with. We must hear their fears and accept them as real. Compromise must happen. We cannot force people to get over their fears, but we can lead them out of their fears with baby steps and compassion and radical love.

  12. Well, seeing your map and hearing your argument it seems all I as a gay man who cares about the environment etc can do is MOVE to Canada or some other civilized country. You talk about compromise, but those Republicans you say are not happy with Trump are doing NOTHING to stop him! Since we are out numbered and I have personally been threatened more than once online by redneck bigots who say they have all the guns so if we try and stop Trump they will start the second Civil War, I guess compromise means going back in the closet or leaving the country! On top of all the other horrors, my son is dying of cancer and we can not afford his meds. The cost has gone up from $15 to $200 on several of his meds and we are broke! I know this is rambling but I have a lot on my mind and hope you read all this. YOU have a huge following and I am desperate, so I can but ask, will you consider sharing the go fund me I have set up to help us deal with his medical expenses? I will understand if you don't, but I have to ask. Here is the link, thanks!

    1. Tristen,

      I wrote this essay specifically because of this kind of binary response to the previous essays.

      It's not all I get everything my way or fuck it, I'm leaving.

      Note: I said "compromise" may be the wrong word, but I used it specifically to evoke a visceral response. Because BOTH sides respond to the word compromise in the SAME FUCKING WAY. Hey, look, that's something we all have in common.

      Note: I specifically said I was NOT talking about compromise with haters and bigots and the Klan and fucking Neo-Nazis. Jesus, dude, you get death threats? You should see MY inbox.

      Note: I specifically said I was NOT talking about giving up civil rights in any way. I specifically said that. Specifically.

      Note: I said we must find a way for all reasonable people, left and right, to meet somewhere in the middle. I really don't see how that's a bad thing.

      How in the hell you get, "Fuck it, move to Canada" is beyond me. The essay is about exactly -- EXACTLY -- the opposite.

      I let your comment post, including the gofundme link.

  13. As I was reading (above) I got to a point when I wanted to say "compromise" is not the right term (sorry for using the Trump quotes!)....and then you admitted that it evoked a very visceral response and might not be the best term.

    So what word would I suggest? How about....can we talk?

    We had dinner with several people one of whom was rabidly against Planned Parenthood. Another couple were strong Catholics. We started out on the same page - me against them (but not confrontational - just on the other side of the issue).

    An hour later the couple and I were nodding our heads in agreement on some basic issues - not everything - but some things. The rabid dog was still a rabid dog and I had ceased to address her.

    So I think we need to learn how to talk to each other - which also means listening before opening our mouths. I listen to progressive radio and cringe every time I hear a liberal mock red states as dumb and stupid. I may agree, but for heaven's sake, you will never get them to listen so they might eventually hear our words - and come closer together.

    1. An hour later the couple and I were nodding our heads in agreement on some basic issues - not everything - but some things. The rabid dog was still a rabid dog and I had ceased to address her.


      This is the entire point of the essay, right here. This.

    2. But this means very similar people getting together and talking in a non-threating environment. That's a soft situation and yes it often ends with some mutual common ground. I stick with no compromise with adults who have every resource at their fingertips to educate themselves who still enjoy wading in their swamp of fear/hate. POC and women and gays are always told to be softer, less scary, to help people not be intimidated by them. For me it's a screw that thing, be loud and happy and let them figure it out on their own. Frankly it's working, they are failing with their agenda and the ones with two braincells are relententing. The hardcore assholes will never change and who cares, they are and always will be the smallest demographic, they just had a moment where everything came together in their favor. It won't happen again anytime soon now that we, the vast majority, are awake again.

    3. I was Conservative in the late 1980's. My husband ran for state representative in Portland, Oregon -- the ranks were against ME running (I'm a female). So we went through the whole process. This was when Oliver North was out there proclaiming the greatness of conservatism, and we booked him for a forum that fall. I was playing music at his show, and even got my picture taken with the Great Man. We supported the Sandinistas, contributed to their gun running, and had anti-abortion folks canvassing neighborhoods for us during the campaign -- and Lee Greenwald on the soundtrack at our rallies. Go Team!
      I divorced that jerk 20 years ago after several Domestic Violence episodes, and married an ultra-liberal west coast Jew (hey, it doesn't get any more liberal than that). Today, I consider myself a moderate Democrat. Even gave up my Reagan-conservative designation a couple of years ago.
      But...during those 'conservative' years, I protested at 'abortion' clinics, marched against 'war mongers' and coordinated a multiplicity of anti-liberal community activities, with moderate success. I invited and hosted Afghani 'Freedom Fighters' at forums and had them to tea at my house. BUT...
      I also went on TV as a spokesperson for anti-abortion, and stated that the answer was compromise. My people hated that, but let it go, because they knew I was the fire behind their issues. It may have even made a difference. Just sayin'.

  14. I don't think you are talking about compromise. Compromise means you give a little, they give a little, you end up with a line down the middle that neither of you really wants, but we both agree is a fair middle line.
    For a lot of people on both right and left, we see the compromises we are asked to make as giving up something truly fundamental to who we are. We're not taking the shirt of our back, we're lopping off limbs, and our internal organs are being eyed for their flavor.
    It's sometimes surprising to find out what our neighbors hold as profoundly fundamental, not-gonna-budge bedrock things. They don't make sense to us.
    I don't think we need compromise. We need, I dunno, a conversion. Because it's true what you say about how all these people just want life, liberty, pursuit, good schools, and jobs, but that's not the button that's being pushed in fearmongering: it's identity. And unless we can get past some of the white-knuckled categorical crap that goes into our identity (race, gender, and religion high up on the list), we're going to find new and creative ways to be scared of all those strangers in our modern life. I believe that's really the root of our problem: strangers, and how homo sapiens deal with them.

    1. Which is why I used the word compromise.

      Because it's not the right word, but it forces you to think what the right word might be.

      I'd say you've done a pretty good job of exactly that.

    2. Would it help if that conversion included a great big huge dose of 'not my business'? As in, I don't sleep with that particular person so what that person does and does not do in bed is not my business. As in I'm not the person responsible for making reproductive choices for half the people on the planet. She can make her choices and I'll make mine. And we each go to the health care providers of our respective choices. Because it isn't the identity of people being attacked. It is the costs imposed on them by society at large because of their lack of conformity to some ideal human being.

  15. Thanks, bearsense, that is one of my favorite JFK quotes and I couldn't agree more.
    And, thanks Jim, the word compromise does make my stomach hurt a little, and I know it is a fear response. I am a Social Democrat, always have been, and the older I get the more I move to the left. Some of those folks out there on the "other side" are very scary. and their vitriol and passion for their positions seems insurmountable. Yet, I do believe the only way forward is to connect somehow. To reach an agreement to disagree on some things and find common ground in what we all want, a safe shelter, good work, reasonable pay and a sense of future for our children. I don't get the ones who have no compassion for or feel now responsibility for those who are less fortunate, but I know that f we can sit down and talk our basic interests are all the same. I saw that when i visited the then Soviet Union, and other places in the world,

  16. Also, in ID4, they actually did end up nuking the aliens in space.

    It was the only way to be sure :)

    1. Yep. And that's one of the options. I suggest to you that there might be unpleasant side effects however.

    2. For certain sure :)

      Like that sequel they released last summer... very unpleasant.

  17. In my world of compromise, I would love to do away with labels. I think once we assign labels to things, like people we disagree with, or ideals different than our own, they become easier to fear and hate.

    I have an adult step-child that equates anything red with spicy food and will not eat it. The labels she has assigned to various foods, based on one interaction as a small child, preclude her from even trying them again as an adult. She is so blocked out by these things, she cannot see past the label to offer them a second chance. It keeps her living in fear...while on vacation in Japan, because she could not read the labels to know what was in EVERYTHING she would be eating, she existed on the bacon and croissants at the hotel breakfast. It was sad to see that fear keeping her from experiencing life.

    I, too, have a long and storied history in the military, growing up both as an "Army Brat" and being a Soldier myself. One of the things that did for me was divest my mind of the usual labels assigned to people (and foods.) In base housing, whoever lived next door to you was your friend. It didn't matter what color their skin was, or what their national origins. Everyone gets a fair shake with me. I don't care who you are or where you are from, if you are not an asshole, I am cool with you. Oh, and bring your local foods with you. Life is too short to eat meat and potatoes every day!

  18. Well said. Compromise is such a misused word. If we look at that map and REALLY realize it's impact - WHY are we not knocking on every door to have an open and honest conversation?

  19. Hmmm ... dissuade, reason with, convince, assuage. I'm afraid these are words beyond the ken of the people of which you're writing. *I* fear that their fear has already, in many cases, turned to hate, that we have begun a downward slide to an insular, continually fearful, hating "the other" people.

  20. It would be most interesting if opposition candidates-- both Republican and Democrat-- started showing up at those abandoned town hall meetings. Show up and say "your representative isn't here, but I am, and I am going to run against this coward in the next election. Tell me what you want to tell him."

    That would be interesting.

    1. BINGO!

      Exactly this. That's the kind of opportunity I'm talking about.

    2. Lizard for local office, I think !?!

  21. You're right we have more in common, so you're suggesting compromising the differences. Equality for all under the law just isnt negotiable. It's the god damned law.

    1. I never said equality was negotiable. I specifically said just the opposite.

  22. You are spot on once again, Jim. Both camps are so wrapped up in their fear that no one wants to make the first step so not to appear weak. I am starting to think "compromise" has developed such a stigma on both sides that they would rather hold all of us hostage rather than work together.

  23. "Casual" or "causal"?
    No need to post this comment, it is for your eyes only.

  24. My problem is that I cannot see *how* we change that fear of "liberals.*
    As you said, they "can't vote for a liberal."
    But when they say "liberal" they absolutely do not mean any of those definitions listed by bearsense above.
    Too many have utterly wrong beliefs about "liberals," but all attempts to show them those beliefs are wrong, to explain what real liberalism is, simply fall on deaf ears.
    That's ny problem. They've believed this for so long I have no idea how to overcome.
    How do we "do a damn thing" to take away their fears? They literally won't listen to us, they listen to Fox and double down on their belief that liberals are Satan's spawn.
    I don't disagree that Democratic politicians have failed in this, but in the face of a refusal even to listen, I honestly do not how to overcome that resistance.
    I live in a red state, too, in a once-blue enclave that's turning redder, and yes, I'm afraid. Because I cannot get through the barriers of false beliefs, and I'm pretty near despair.

    1. If you carefully read the first few lines of you comment, you'll see that you've already come to a usable course of action.

      But when they say "liberal" they absolutely do not mean any of those definitions listed by bearsense above.

      What does that suggest to you?

  25. This comment has been removed by the author.

  26. I wish you would provide some examples on what you think compromising really means in terms of policy.

    Whether you mean to or not, it sounds like you're telling us to just sell out.

    1. Did you read only this essay? Or did you also read the ones linked to it? Because I discussed that in some detail previously.

  27. You lost me with this one. People are honestly asking you "How?" and you are blowing them off with "I asked you first".
    Any ideas here? I have a brother who has been a full-on Tea Party member since Obama was elected. He had a blog for a while also, think the polar opposite of yours. Flew his US flag upside-down for 8 years. Wears a MAGA hat. Didn't serve in Vietnam due to a spinal curvature but knows EVERYTHING there is to know about the military because he watches TV. Is an NRA member but only has BB guns. Thinks Ann Coulter is hot. Our mother (and I shudder to say that I'm related to this clown) is in a nursing home under full Medicaid payments. How is she going to be cared for when they yank her off it? He's 66 year old and is getting social security- he doesn't mind accepting those government benefits. He's Trump with a bad back, a beer belly and no money.
    How am I supposed to "convince" someone like this that I'm not the enemy? More importantly, why is it MY responsibility to do so? They may have feelings but it doesn't seem like they have brains because if they can't look at this situation and figure out on their own that they made a grave error and maybe they should have "compromised" 6 months ago...I can't help them.
    Are we supposed to go to a Trump rally and pick people out of line and start "compromising" with them? Thanks, but I enjoy having teeth.
    Are we supposed to reply to Trump supporters on-line and "reason" with them? Sorry - I tried that 7 months ago and was called a Libtard so many times I almost had it etched into my forehead.
    I'm at a loss, Jim.

    1. Don't aim for the extremists.

      There are moderates in every movement, people you already talk to and have a modicum of respect for and who feel the same way about you and would feel the same way you do about your brother. Find them and talk to them, and be as willing to change your mind as you want them to be.

    2. I believe Jim said that Trumpers like your brother are lost causes and he isnt expecting you to try to convert him. He is talking about the folks with buyer's remorse. The ones who are realizing they screwed up.

      I am still unsure about compromise but i do think those folks are reachable if we approach them as reasonable people and NOT among the irrational ones like your bro. For me that is the compromise I think I can start with.

    3. You can't compromise with the uncompromising. However, there are more that are willing to discuss, and listen, than there are blowhards. Find those you can have a rational discussion with and get them to compromise their party towards ours. Note, "towards". They're not going to turn into liberals overnight.

    4. Ryan,

      1. You lost me with this one. People are honestly asking you "How?" and you are blowing them off with "I asked you first".

      I wrote 5000 words explaining exactly what I meant. I wasn't blowing the responder off, I answered her question in detail. 5000 words worth. She just didn't read it. And what she did read, she deliberately misconstrued because she just wanted to argue. She wasn't interested in a dialog -- otherwise she would have commented HERE. She just wanted to score points for her Twitter audience. Frankly, Ryan, I think I was more polite and more patient than her attitude deserved.

      2. Your brother. If you read this essay, you'll note that I specifically said that I was NOT suggesting you waste your time attempting to compromise with people who won't compromise. I've said repeatedly that you can't reason with unreasonable people, SO DON'T TRY. In fact, in this essay I specifically suggested that you focus your attention on those conservatives who ARE reasonable people, who ARE willing to compromise, who are just as disgusted with things as you are.

      3. Why is it your responsibility? If not to convince your idiot brother, then to attempt to convince those who might be willing to meet you halfway? I dunno. Maybe because you give a shit otherwise you wouldn't be here?

      Are we supposed to go to a Trump rally and pick people out of line and start "compromising" with them? Thanks, but I enjoy having teeth.

      I don't believe I suggested any such thing.

      Are we supposed to reply to Trump supporters on-line and "reason" with them? Sorry - I tried that 7 months ago and was called a Libtard so many times I almost had it etched into my forehead.

      Who are YOU talking to? Dude, Libtard is about the nicest thing I've been called lately.

      So? So what? They called you a mean name. Big deal. What are you going to do? Give up?

      You want me to give you some step by step set of instructions. Something easy. Something that doesn't involve setbacks or failure or frustration. And I'm not going to do that. Because it doesn't exist.

      It's going to be hard and it's going to take work and it's going to take a whole bunch of us working together, coming up with ideas, winning the future one goddamned voter at a time.

  28. Your opponent is never sees himself as evil or wrong. Use this to your advantage when dealing with him.

  29. At least some conservatives are not motivated by the culture wars described above. They are motivated more by a general perception of government waste and faith in a free market. I may not agree with those views either at least not in the way they do but I don't hate or despise them for it.
    The total number of votes that tipped the electoral college was 70,000
    Out of a total votes cast of 136,628,459 or.05%
    Total votes for Trump 62,979,636. Of that 70,000 is 11%
    I really don't think any of us need to waste time on racists. There are plenty enough rational conservatives to talk to to tip that balance

  30. Our gov't has never been perfect, far from it. However, opposing political opponents Ronald Reagan & Speaker Tip O'Neal were the epitome of compromise. The beginning of where we are today started on the eve of Obama's first inauguration. Frank Lutz, Jim DeMint, Jon Kyl and Tom Coburn,Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy and Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell met in secret where the new GOP plan was to completely obstruct ANYTHING Obama tried to do. It was at that moment when the word "compromise" became forbidden to even be uttered by anyone in the GOP. Eight years later and it seems like the ability to compromise is a completely foreign concept to the average person. I just don't get how so many people don't posses the ability to open their eyes and use the brains that nature gave them.

  31. “Look here, now!” the North-Going Zax said, “I say!
    You are blocking my path. You are right in my way.
    I’m a North-Going Zax and I always go north.
    Get out of my way, now, and let me go forth!”
    “Who’s in whose way?” snapped the South-Going Zax.
    “I always go south, making south-going tracks.
    So you’re in MY way! And I ask you to move
    And let me go south in my south-going groove.”

    I didn't write that. ;)

    1. My immediate reaction to this Dr. Seuss story was: Why didn't one of the Zaxes crouch down and the other leapfrog over him? Nobody had to deviate from their direction in the slightest.

    2. Dr. Suess, I presume?

  32. Fear. The "liberals" are as ignorant of what "conservatives" really stand for as "conservatives" are of what "liberals" stand for. Both sides listen to the talking heads who have an agenda that suits them and not America as a whole. The agenda requires demonizing the other team to the point many reasonable people believe very unreasonable and unrealistic things about the other side. Listening to respond replaces listening to understand. Unless we all start listening to understand each other and not just to respond with some canned response from our echo chamber arsenal we are royally screwed.

  33. People have to first stop lumping people into "groups."

    Stop seeing the forest and look at the trees.

    Labels have a homogenizing effect. Label someone a liberal or conservative and the mind automatically assumes there's no spectrum of opinion among the population. All Democrats think alike. All Republicans think alike.

    It isn't so.

    And it isn't about compromising with feelings.

    It's about compromising with people.

    I have purposely not unfriended any of my ardently pro-Trump friends. I know many personally. Face-to-face they are human beings and, without the digital divide between us, a little understanding and acknowledgement of the feelings they have beneath their words brings us closer together.

    There is common ground. Only intransigence and arrogance can prevent seeing it.

    We need to see each other (literally and figuratively) and talk it out under the lamp post of mutual respect.

  34. President Obama spent eight long years trying to compromise with conservatives.

    Conservatives gave back not one iota; and continue to slander him every damn day.

    I've personally come to the conclusion that "conservatism" is a polite word for "white supremacy," and frankly I haven't seen or heard a damn thing from any "conservatives" that would dissuade me from that belief.

    Conservatives opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

    Conservatives opposed the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

    Conservatives support and defend voter identification requirements designed specifically to keep black and brown people from voting right here in 2017.

    Tell me, Jim-- I'm a black guy, so explain to me how I am going to "compromise" with conservatives when they've demonstrated at every turn for the last... oh, hell, let's keep it short and say for the last fifty years that they deny my right to citizenship in this country?

    1. I'm a white woman from a small town in NW Washington, when I went to high school in the '80's there were only a couple of black kids. I had maternal grandparents who had names for everyone, one was born in 1921, the other later in the '20's and raised in Missouri. My paternal grandmother traced our geneology back to Stonewall Jackson. Knowing those few facts wouldn't you immediately get the impression that I was a conservative bigot? You would be wrong. I'm more progressive than anything.
      I cannot say that I understand how you have been treated, I don't agree with treating people poorly just because of trivial details such as skin color. When that happens we all miss out.
      I will say that there are many "conservatives" out there who are not what you describe, they are not the hate filled beasts who wish to push people down because of things like skin color, or religion. I hope you can meet some on a personal level.
      Oh, btw...my 95 yr old grandfather (who I fondly refer to as my "Fossil") voted for a black man twice. We patted him on the head and congratulated him when he told us proudly about doing that - even though we were cringing inside from his words. "We" would be both of his liberal daughters and me. He also voted for marriage equality in Washington state, realizing that all of his grandchildren should be able to marry the person they loved, even his gay grandson. People DO evolve.

  35. It should be noted that the fear cuts both ways. Liberals are just as fearful of the conservatives. And the conservatives, at the moment, hold all the power. So BOTH sides must negotiate a compromise from equal positions of fear.

    Many liberals thing they've already compromised enough. That the "New Democrats" typified by the Clintons are the very embodiment of that compromise. if you put Trump on one end of the spectrum, and Bernie Sanders on the other, Hillary Clinton and her politics *is* the compromise. It was offered, and it was rejected. A lot of liberals (like your example interlocutor) feel that they wanted Sanders, held their noses and voted for Clinton as a *compromise*, and it didn't work. Small wonder they are not in the mood for compromise anymore.

    I'm not saying this is a good thing, and I generally agree with your position, Jim. But as Chris Rock once put it, "I'm not saying it's right... but I understand."

  36. You defeat fear with trust. More voters for whatever reasons in the areas of The United States that Trump needed to win thought voting for a lying sexual predator was better than voting for Hillary Clinton. Many of those same people for different reasons in those same areas voted for President Obama twice. In Obama's election hope trumped fear. In Mrs. Clinton distrust trumped fear, with some Russian help we got the lying sexual predator.

  37. It would be interesting to know if any Trump supporters have ever posted anything similar re: the need to compromise with Trump opponents.

  38. While I have no doubt that you used the map in good faith, always remember that Snopes is your friend.

  39. The problem I see is that there's no visible shading on most maps or of most concepts. Each side assumes anyone on the other side is the worst version of that side. That's easy, and it justifies their rage.

    But, in reality, most people don't have the mental stamina to hold extreme views and the extreme moods they promote. Most people aren't ideal examples of either the best or worst of their own groups. Most people would agree, if they felt it wouldn't cost them, that the assholes on their side /are/ assholes that anger them too, or anyway that they don't back those assholes blindly or 100%.

    We do need to explain our position and now is a great time, but before one can explain something they need someone who is receptive and they need to understand what that person doesn't like (or thinks they don't like) about what's going to be explained.

    Lots of people are very receptive, but not if they're being insulted. So, don't insult. Take some deep breaths and reach into where you learned basic manners.

    Then start asking honest questions about their position. Don't assume they believe the most abhorrent thing one can read from what they're saying, actually goddamned ask, and don't assume or even imply you assume how they'll answer. For instance: "Is it your position that all Muslim people are interested in and willing to kill you?"

    Proceed (or not) based on their answer. It doesn't seem to take more than a couple civilly asked questions to determine if someone is moderate enough to actually be informative and give you the insight you're going to need.

    You haven't compromised yet, and you might not, but you have some understanding now and a calmer interlocutor. Maybe you see a misunderstanding they hold that you can (again, civilly) correct. Try that maybe or keep asking questions. Offer to answer their honest questions and then actually do so.

    I don't think anyone can even start to compromise without doing this and doing it a lot. And not everyone on every side can or should be in a position to compromise. The moderate ideas often develop down from the extreme ones.

    And of course, no number of these conversations will change very much, though it never hurts to correct (or have corrected in oneself) certain assumptions.

    But what this does is makes it easier to find ways to compromise when it comes to the ballot box. It gives you insight into what might actually be, say, a poorly considered (de)regulation or program. It might help you vote for people who are better listeners, explainers and compromisers.

    Give it a try, if you can.

  40. What I see amongst folks I know and some I even love is an incredible capacity to hold two completely conflicting ideas in their heads with the equal fervor. It's like they have a wall instead of a corpus callosum. What they have taught me is to check for my own brain wall whenever I am holding onto something too tightly to see if the thought/idea/belief is legit and appropriate. It isn't easy. There are the basic rules of civilization that apply to every human - food, shelter, safety = life. I personally believe there is enough for everyone. People have varying ideas of 'enough' and that's complicated. But if you can't compromise with yourself, it's awfully difficult to compromise with anyone else.

  41. I'll go along with what you say. And while the word compromise is the word to use in the negotiation phase of things. I would say 'involvement' is the more important word and meaning at this time.

    There is the sense of a war going on here. Not in just the idea of won battles, but the use of tactics in one side moving forward with the ideology of fear, but of the other side retreating away, giving ground as the fear moved forward.

    I saw this in the Midwest myself. Perfectly good people losing their jobs, their homes, friends, family, with a fallout that reached others simply for being present and easily targeted by those who were afraid.

    And the ones who needed to find ways to fight it, they either took advantage of that fear and used it for their own wants, religion, banks, corporations. In the eighties we saw that with the farm debt buyouts and the closing of small companies by larger debtors.

    And while it happened, no one appeared to say, "Hey this is wrong." At least not anyone in a real position to say no to the people allowing it in the state and federal government.

    They simply focused on the cities and the tech corridors. The 'next big thing.'

    So if anyone wants to compromise with fear, they first have to find reason to involve themselves again. Not with the stuff in the ground, not with the land being used, not with the tech being made.

    They have to involve and invest in the potential of the people themselves.

    You get people believing they have a meaningful life to give, a return from their efforts beyond what has gone before with manufacturing and creativity of tech, and you'll get the votes.

    Until then, the guy on the pulpit is going to push that God is punishing them, or that some culture is the bad guy, and that they are to blame for not stopping those bad people.

    Give them a reason to believe they aren't the bad people. And they won't care about gays, immigrants, or all the other targets in today's society.

    Invest in the people, the dreams, the tech they can come up with. At least say, "You count, because you're human, and this is what this country does."

    Businesses are fine. But the best businesses come from the ideas of men and women who are given the potential tools to make them happen.

    In the midwest, the meat packing industry was one major thing that pulled out. It left a terrible hole. But there was nothing to give people a way to replace it. And there are things they could have done to replace it.

    Now at the bottom of the hole one party is in, while the other still uses fear to dominate, that one party, the Democrats could change all of it by saying, "How can we change things for the better? For you and all of us?"
    And then listen, and innovate.

    Sorry, this is probably a bit long. But you set off some things. It's not JUST about compromise. It's about reminding all sides that we're not just about coal, or steel, or manufacturing, or business and consuming as if they were resources.

    It's also about the people. Not just as conduits for political power, but as fully capable creators of a future.

    All else tends to follow.

  42. What I see amongst folks I know and some I even love is an incredible capacity to hold two completely conflicting ideas in their heads with the equal fervor. It's like they have a wall instead of a corpus callosum. What they have taught me is to check for my own brain wall whenever I am holding onto something too tightly to see if the thought/idea/belief is legit and appropriate. It isn't easy. There are the basic rules of civilization that apply to every human - food, shelter, safety = life. I personally believe there is enough for everyone. People have varying ideas of 'enough' and that's complicated. But if you can't compromise with yourself, it's awfully difficult to compromise with anyone else. (also - apologies if this is duplicated - confused by sign-in shenanigans - yes, I work in tech - *headdesk*)

  43. I live in ultra conservative Virginia Beach. Conservatives are my friends, my old comrades in arms, and my colleagues, and you are absolutley correct regarding their fears. You are also correct in regards to each sides stance on compromise. The only thing that I would add to your essay is that not only are these folks afraid, many of them are misinformed, as are many liberals. Mind you, I did not say that these folks were stupid, ignorant, or uneducated. I said that they are misinformed. So, in addition to getting two fearful and stubborn segments of the populace to compromise, it is incumbent upon us moderate people to discredit the "news" sources that blatantly supply misinformation to both ends of the spectrum. It seems to me that getting people to realize that their "news" source is compromised and providing a stilted commentary on just about every issue is a third of the battle, and the next third would be to help these folks to get their information from a news source that is actually held accountable for factual reporting. Then once the bull shit is cleared up, compromise can begin. But maybe I am indulging in wishful thinking. Bias confirmation is soothing. Living in an alternate reality where everything that one believes is confirmed to be absolutely correct is much easier than critical thinking. You are correct sir, the the harsh reality of much needed compromise stares us in the face every day. Unfortunately, it seems as if most of this country isn't really interested in listening to factual information or doing the work that it will take to make that compromise happen.

  44. The Democratic candidates shifted left so that they wouldn't lose their liberal base. The Republicans shifted right to keep their base happy. That left the middle. 42% of the eligible electorate did not vote. Any bets where those folks sit in the spectrum?

    I don't see many Hubert H. Humphreys in the Democratic spotlight anymore. We need some of those guys to appeal to the middle. The middle believes that entitlement programs need to be overhauled; there is the impression that they are greatly abused, and seeming is reality. Instead of knee jerk defense of these programs, propose a housecleaning. Show how these programs accomplish good things. The CFPB was created to protect the consumer, but its edicts are not always wise, and some of those edicts create stupid situations. Review the regs, get rid of the dumb ones. And win those skeptics over.

  45. I think we maybe just let Trump play out. Without even having to compromise my positions I find my Trump supporting family members, the reasonable and sane ones you describe, coming to see what a horror he is to *their* needs. This is what it takes to get to modern conservatives - that something effects them where it hurts. So the SIL whose mother with Alzheimers would lose her room in the nursing home, that another SIL would lose the first health coverage shes had in decades, that my disabled brother would lose his SSI and be expected to work while half paralyzed, that my retirement community could lose its critical nursing care. These are the realities hitting rural Trump voters.

    Will compromise be needed too? Maybe. Or maybe just a Democrat with a simple slogan and a soothing voice that makes those scaredy Merkans feel good about themselves.

  46. People accuse each other of being stuck in their beliefs, and believe that there's nothing left but to insult them.

    Try to remember when you didn't believe what you believe now. Most of us have a time like that, and will have others. Me, I didn't understand about homosexuality or how awful a concept rape is or why people are vegan. I never thought slavery was a good thing, but I also didn't have any idea /how bad/ it was. I flat out didn't know certain thing. Now I do, at least better than I did.

    So, I know, and so does anyone else whose ideas have ever changed and matured, that ideas can change and mature, even relatively late in life.

    And I don't know about you, but I didn't change because someone screamed at me, insulted me, or threatened me, even though there were people who would have been justified in doing so. I was lucky enough to have patient friends and to find words often written by people who had changed the way they wanted /me/ to change, and I got to see what changed them.

    So, remember what it was like not to understand something. Look for people who spout some of the same dumbass stuff you used to. Start there. They can change and if they do they can become, like you did, someone who can get others to change, or who at least doesn't perpetuate abhorrent ideas.

  47. I'd also think some Democrats will soon get past the notion that they can't vote for anyone who doesn't check every box on their wish list.

    Since when has "better than" stopped being anything worth giving a damn about?

  48. Compromise does hit me viscerally, because compromise on a national scale is what moved the "liberal" DNC so far to the right in the first place.

    If we're starting from a far left place to compromise with conservatives, I'm all over it. But compromising to move our country further right... scares the fuck right out of me.

    Now one on one, local to local... that's a different story all together, and more what I took from the original article. I can compromise with individuals who don't just regurgitate talking points at me (Uncle Bob vs. Cousin Tom, say (names not changed to protect the innocent)).

    But many don't seem to get that change, real change, starts at the local level and we've been ignoring that for too long.

  49. I have been saying for years that the ability to compromise has been lost in this country. Both sides vilify each other, both think the other is "pure evil". I will admit that, I am guilty of this myself.

    I work at a company that does a majority of its business with the military. Like you, Jim, I spent time in the military myself and am an Air Force Brat, proudly 3rd generation of a 4 generation military family. I do understand Conservatives and I agree with you that most people tend to the middle, politically.

    So, my suggestion to reach out is to let people know what you think politically. Talk about what you think, shed light so that people see that you are not some sort of Liberal boogie monster. Discuss it rationally with them and try to find common ground. Try to avoid getting into Monty Pythonesque arguments about who is right. Try to be civil. Try to be kind. Neither of which is a sign of weakness as any rational person knows.

    Bit of a ramble there. TL:DR? Don't be afraid to reach out to people and exchange ideas.

  50. Jim, I still hear a lot of people explaining why they can't change (compromise with) fear. Yet none of them has anything like a reasonable alternative. Doing it their way is how we got here. If we must compromise with the Devil to get away from the (worse than any devil - President Trump, et al) situation we are in, then so be it. Pragmatism is the only possible solution. We must reduce the fears of red America.

  51. I am saddened but not surprised by the comments made here. They completely missed your excellent points.

    I live in a very blue state, but grew up in a very red state. I go back to said Red State all the time to visit family, and what I have experienced is exactly what Jim describes. There is a small number of rednecks/goons/assholes what have you, who walk ariund bellowing about Lock Her Up, wear MAGA hats and generally be obnoxious.

    Believe it or not, folks, they annoy the quiet conservatives that Jim talks about more than they do you. Why? Because the quiet conservatives know that they will get tarred with the same brush as their brash companions. And gee, darned if they aren't right, based on the posts here.

    So, what do I do? I talk to the quiet conservatives, and we discuss issues. I tell them that my state has a huge Muslim population, but that we don't have sharia law. I talk about how the families in my neighborhood are completely diverse, but we get along and help each other. I talk about the at risk youth I coach basketball, but I tell them about the laughs we share, the skills they gain, and the pride I feel in them.

    Then I go home and talk to my liberal friends and do the sane thing in reverse.

    Folks, we need to focus more on our commonalities and less on our differences. That is not to say we IGNORE our differences, but we put them in perspective. That is the only way liberals can reach quiet conservatives. But it is your coice as to how you proceed.

  52. How do we do it? By first resisting any of the spin they put out to make this administration seem normal. By pushing the media (oh yes that liberal media :) to PRESS the President, the Secretary of State, the Attorney General and all pertinent admin to answer questions. To hold them accountable for the decisions they've made. To campaign to remove people who have corrupted the system like Flynn and Bannon (oh we're coming for you next Bannon). The press needs to PRESS, as is their job. They need to make it their business to ask the difficult questions and not take no for an answer. Keep asking until they get somewhere.
    We need to press them. WE are their money makers, the consumers, and we need to shout louder than the others.
    We need to write or call ONE legislator a day to let our voices be heard. It isn't that hard. Just do it.
    We need to be starting now to support, financially, local representatives who will rise up in the next cycle to attack this current group of flunkies and scaries and replace them in the House. If we can shut things down in the House it never gets to the Senate. Think about that.
    We can find out WHO the people are locally that are supporting this administration and call THEM out on the carpet. Literally call them. Tell them what your position is. Remind them that you will be voting soon and not only that you have a large platform to speak truth to about them. That you will be watching how they vote and telling everyone you know about it.
    There is a LOT to do.
    But what I won't do is act like this is normal politics as usual. As we look back in history this time will be known as the time our country sat back and was more interested in who was chosen on The Bachelor than who was chosen as their legislators. We have become a nation of apathetic couch potatoes, looking only for our next fix of entertainment or celebrity gossip. Stop it.
    Let's each take ten minutes out of our day to further the American agenda and make sure we get better legislators in the next group that comes up.
    Because if we don't in ten years we could be a part of the Russian Federation. And I cannot abide that.

  53. IZZY: (most Trump voters and Fox News types are old)...and progress is moving forward one funeral at a time.

    1. They're feeding it to the next generation and the one beyond it too. You can't count on die off. Memes spread from person to person much more effectively than most diseases.

  54. I keep returning to the polling done by the Progressive Change Institute of likely 2016 voters that showed overwhelming agreement among all responders, regardless of party affiliation, on a score of issues, leading one to think we should be able to find compromises that would move us forward as a nation (link: https://act.boldprogressives.org/survey/pci_bigideas_poll_results/) I also recall that during the original healthcare debate in 2009 a majority of Republicans preferred the single payer "Medicare for All" approach to any other alternatives at the time. We are not as divided as politicians and the media portray, as you rightly note. Yet, pubic discourse never gets around to what we agree on, only those things that divide us: abortion, gun control, immigration, drugs, religious "liberty", gays. Everything we can agree on is either too costly, too radical, too unAmerican, will kill jobs, will benefit others (usually a minority), is not the role of government, or will harm business, among an infinite number of excuses. You could argue that everything we agree on is too liberal! How do you get rid of that label? We don't seem to recognize as a nation that progress and liberal are synonymous. Yet there seems to be a purity, a reasonableness with the label conservative that blinds us to the need to adapt to the changing world, make progress, try new policies and programs, open up our thinking to embrace or at least explore ideas outside our usual comfort zone. America has been entrepreneurial in many respects throughout its history. But, not so much in her politics, that often seem to have learned nothing in the last 50 to 100 years. The only hope seems to be that the current administration and congress will make the label conservative as feared in all those red counties as liberal now is.

  55. Using winner of the county, and not representing the population is a bit skewed.


  56. I see both sides of this. On one hand, I've told "liberal" friends of mine they are damaging their own causes by posting & sharing ridiculous stuff about outlawing religion or taxing the churches. I then get accused of trying to censor what they are saying. I said, no, but you're posting this stuff that is *never* going to happen and it's just feeding the irrational fears that are motivating people to vote Republican. And they can't grasp that.

    Then the other side of this is that in the last 24 hours In the last 24 hours I've unfriended someone who responded to your essay about "today's good guy with a gun" by saying there's no difference between a 2 year old shooting a 9 year old in the head and a kid who drowns in a pool, and someone who "loves" the idea that doctors in Texas can lie to a pregnant woman about fetal abnormalities if they think she might have an abortion. And these are the people we're supposed to be having a dialogue with?

  57. Another great read. I saw a typo on "but Democrats haven’t don’t a damn" just above the boycott target image

  58. I agree. Though the hard core will never accept, but original fence sitters are the ones to engage. I have friends who didn't decide until they walked in the booth and then call me later to ask me if they made the right choice. I told them they made the choice based on what they knew compared with what they believed. I didn't agree with it, but I would respect their choice.

    You are correct that compromise will be difficult, but it is the only way to move forward because any other option ends badly for all of us.

  59. I think you are wrong about this and we are headed for the worst kind of divorce were we have to still live under the same roof with kids. We have become strangers, Vermont feels like a different country from the one I see on the national news which is increasingly beginning to seem like a hostile occupying power. I hope you're the wiser on this because if I'm right we will lose at least a decade at best, the whole proposition at worse.

  60. Good article, as usual.

    More typos: "but Democrats haven’t don’t a damned thing" (two places).

    One of the previous commenters asked incredulously "Are we supposed to reply to Trump supporters on-line and "reason" with them?" Yeah, we are. Before the election, I deliberately did not unfriend anybody so that I could get a read on where people's heads were. After the election, I unfriended a bunch of folks whose only discussion strategy was name-calling and fear-mongering.

    But I also opened most of the posts on my Facebook wall to the public (and I'm SO not a public person) and started going out to the comments under trending news stories and engaging with anybody who would have a rational discussion about where the "middle ground" might be.

    You're right that there are a lot of unhappy people out there on the "other side" who ARE looking for a way out of this. Also a fair number who are beginning to understand that all Trump's election accomplished was to terrify the OTHER half of the electorate.

  61. I am reminded of Mona Haydar and her husband Sebastian setting up a 'Talk to a Muslim' stand. They brought their beautiful selves, open hearts, and donuts to open a dialog between those that fear them and themselves. Instead of meeting fear with anger and disgust, you are asking us to open our hearts and gentle our response. Find the common ground. Use kindness. Use donuts or cookies or smiles. Become how you would want 'others' to treat you.

  62. Sometimes it's more important to ask the right questions than it is to be able to give answers. Because how the questions are framed is what's going to drive the kinds of answers that come out.

    That said, opening up the field first so that the question can be questioned is a major part of this, and even though I gave you a YAMG on this one, you kind of blew that part of it.

    Because Conservatives aren't the only ones who are starkly petrified about the possible future. Even though it's likely that most of the problems of climate change are susceptible to engineering solutions, the size of the problem is such that, if you accept it as real, you're likely to fall into a DOOM! scenario.

    Another linked problem with global warning is population growth. Liberals really would rather not look at that one, because it tends to call for all sorts of uncomfortable solutions. About the only one that isn't scarier than increasing overpopulation is that the availability of sex education, birth control, and abortion seems to restabilize population growth at or below the replacement level.

    Add to that a third panic point for liberals, which is pretty much the same as it is for Conservatives, that the world is simply changing too fast to cope with, and we need to simplify it before we can do anything, and you have all the ingredients for the pushback you knew you were going to get with this one.

    I can't blame the people pushing back - you stated your original case in simplification mode, which is of necessity going to bring out all the liberals who are already panicking.

    To simplify the current situation is to bring out the doomsayers - on both sides. To try to present it without simplification is damn near impossible. Too many pieces, mostly interacting variably.

    Just for the hell of it, though, I'll try a different question: Why is it necessary at all to have a single, simple solution to all our multitudinous, complex, evolving problems? Why are you/we so certain we can't understand what's going on well enough to fix it? Or, contrariwise, are we having an unwinnable argument because we don't want to understand what's going on, because that would mean having to step outside our comfort zones?

    No answers here, just more questions. Sorry. -- Plus you've still got a couple of typos of don't for done toward the top of the piece.

  63. I am five years in to the adventure of rehabbing a profoundly damaged fearful dog. You don't compromise with fear (yes I know you chose that word specifically for the reaction it elicits) you find ways to make the fearful feel safe while you work with them to overcome those fears. So the question isn't how do we compromise with fear but how do we make all that red feel safe. I LOVED the idea suggested by Lizard that in places where the Republican is afraid to show up and face their constituents at a town hall the Democratic challenger show up and say I'm hear to listen because that IS the first step. You listen and you acknowledge that they are afraid and you hear what would make them feel safe and you ask questions and you respect that they are afraid and understand that no one wants to be afraid. And you accept that replacing fear with confidence doesn't happen overnight. It will be an ongoing process forever but it does get better and it does get easier. To go back to my dog, she was terrified of owls in the beginning. She's fast and agile and weighs 60 lbs so really she has nothing to fear from owls but owls calling in the trees sent her scurrying for cover. Respecting that, as ridiculous as her fear was from a rational standpoint. she really was afraid I'd help her find cover where she felt safe and we'd listen to the owls (we have about eight nesting pairs around us so owls her can be quite raucous in their parliment). Fast forward to today when owls calling from the trees around us or even the owl that swooped past the other night elicit nothing more than a start and return to what she was doing. First you accept that the fear is real and you do what you can to make them feel safe. Until they feel safe nothing can change.

    1. "... you find ways to make the fearful feel safe while you work with them to overcome those fears

      In other words, you've reached an accommodation with behavior driven by fear, while pragmatically working to ameliorate that fear in the future.

      Call it what you like, but that's compromising with the situation.

      Refusing to compromise would be treating the dog as if it wasn't damaged and getting mad when it acts damaged anyway.

  64. I would like to see the red and blue map in this article redrawn on a population map like this one:

    1. You're missing the point.

      That isn't about people. It's about the Electoral College votes.

  65. Living a county that voted 65% for Trump, in spite of the fact that we are a relatively thriving place in the Rust Belt, I know that not everyone who voted for Trump is evil. One of those voters is my own mother and while we do have our issues from time to time, I know she's not evil. She also lives in subsidized housing (via Section 8 voucher), relies on both Medicare and Medicaid for her extensive health care needs (for over 20 years), gets in-home assistance for 4 hours a day that she pays nothing for, receives food stamps and Meals on Wheels, and has only SS as a source of income. Every last program that sustains her is on the chopping block under Trump. I'm on the Medicaid expansion and my sister is both Wiccan and in a multi-racial relationship. Yet she voted for Trump and Fox News is usually on her TV. She knows that without healthcare, I likely face a death sentence, since I have 6 stents in my heart. But she is so intransigent about Republicans that politics has become a forbidden subject altogether. And no, she is not religious either. HOW in the hell am I supposed to break through that wall? I've tried, to the point that the effort left me depressed for days. Thinking about it now almost brings me to tears again. I don't want to believe my own mother wants me dead.

    We need a new way to discuss the issues. Our current language seems completely inadequate, with each side having its own vocabulary. One word or phrase said that is outside the correct vocabulary and all communication instantly ceases. It doesn't even have to be in the opposition vocabulary, just not in the "approved" one. And yes, I see this happen on both sides, just as you do.

    I want to have the conversations you suggest and I suspect that many of us do. Hell, probably most of us. What we don't know anymore is exactly how.

    1. Well, that's why I write this sort of thing, so we can talk about how.

  66. Excellent post and i think really at the heart of the matter. There's a great street art piece, in huge letters, Fear is a Liar. Overcominf fear is hard but easier to deal with than trying to overcome hate. Thanks Jim. - Rev Kane, revkane.com

  67. Something I can not wrap my mind around is the people who voted for Trump because they did not trust Hillary. OMG, trust Hillary for WHAT? Trust her not to sell public park lands to the highest bidder like Trump wants to do? Trust her not to pollute the environment like Trump wants to do? Trust her not to kick millions off of affordable health care? Trust her not to line her pockets by colluding with Russian oligarchs? Trust her to not release her tax returns? But Donald Trump? You bet you can trust him. Sigh.

  68. Most liberals I know are willing to listen and try to compromise on the things you say you're talking about. But I've been trying to do this since GWB, and I see only more doubling down from conservatives, especially those that really only identify as Republican. We can compromise and listen all we want on our side, but if the only response we get is "You're just a libtard being paid by Soros" there's not really anywhere to go, they just won't hear a word. That kind of obstreperousness isn't open to dialogue. You insinuated above that we need to change their perception of what liberal is, and many of us have tried, but there's too much confirmation bias. They WANT to believe we're awful. We could rescue kittens from a fire and they'd still call us liars and crooks. If we actually manage to start a conversation, when we get to a point that they actually can't refute, they leave the conversation, "hang up" as it were. So what's the next step? I mean, I'm not going to give up on my attempts to converse with them in a civil manner, because I'm responsible for my words and not their reaction, but a decade and a half later it's worse than it has ever been.

    1. So ... no peace. Die. Die.

      And that takes me back to the questions I asked: so, what's that leave? Civil war? Revolution? Genocide? What?

    2. Well, I guess that's what I'm asking. I'm doing what I know how to do. Staying civil. Discussing facts, trying to model a "non scary" progressive. I live in a liberal city, so most of my interaction with conservatives is online; I don't have the advantage of face to face. I'm not giving up, I'll continue, because I believe it's right, moral and ethical; but not so sure about "effective." But I don't know what else to do?

    3. See, this is why you're losing me Jim. These people have been on the front lines doing exactly what you said to do, sometimes for decades and your only response is "you're not trying hard enough", "it's all your fault they don't understand", "what, you want a Civil War?".

      If you don't have any real solutions: Kindly. Fuck. Off. With. Your. Superior. Attitude.

    4. Couple things, Anonymous:

      Yeah, I've been right there too, for more than a couple of decades. So thanks, but you're not the only one. And I'm right here, with my name on it and public email address for the hate mail. Just saying, Anonymous.

      I never said you're not trying hard enough. I never said it's all your fault. I don't know you, maybe you aren't and maybe it is. But I'm a good enough writer that what I mean should be clear -- and it is for 99% of the people who read what I write.

      I said what WE are doing isn't working, QED.

      Look around, Anonymous Liberal, do you feel like you're winning?

      So you don't like what I said or how I say it, but there it is. The White House, the Senate, the House, and sometime this week, the Supreme Court. Liberals have lost it all. All of it.


      And if pointing that out hurts your feelings, well, then I'm open to suggestions. But when I ask for suggestions, well, yeah. You don't have one. And you're mad that I didn't provide you with a detailed plan that says only what you want to hear.

      I don't know, Anonymous. If you're looking for somebody to blow smoke up your ass until your colon resembles beef jerky, maybe you're in the wrong place.

      // Jim

    5. Not anonymous, just couldn't get ID to work on other computer. And it's not hate mail, but I'm getting there with your fucking attitude.

      "But I'm a good enough writer that what I mean should be clear -- and it is for 99% of the people who read what I write."

      Just looking at the responses to this article that's a lie for one thing. A few people clutch their pearls and say amen to what you write, but I'd say half of the responses here are people who have been doing exactly what you're saying and are frustrated because IT'S NOT WORKING AND YOU'RE NOT HELPING THEM. Again, you blame them because it all liberal's fault that conservatives don't understand... well, anything.

      And don't tell me that's not what you're saying, because it is Jim. Every fucking step of the way it's not a problem that conservatives want to enact Christian Sharia Law it's liberals for not kowtowing enough to the fearful churchies. It's not ever Middle America's fault for not being better citizens and learning how government works or keeping up with actual facts about what is going on. It's liberals who are 'mean' by telling them facts in "the wrong way".

      I dunno what's worse, the fact that conservatives act like spoiled children, or people like you's insistence that it's liberals fault for not dealing with their temper-tantrums. You keep talking like we're the ones wanting to start a war with them? NEWS FLASH BUDDY!!! THEY WOULD WELCOME IT! THEY KEEP TALKING ABOUT HOW MUCH THEY WANT TO START ONE! ROUND LIBERALS UP IN CONCENTRATION CAMPS AND MASSACRE THEM! I know for a fucking fact that can't have gotten by you on social media.

      I agree that there's a messaging problem, but it's not with conservatives; at this point they've made themselves unreachable. It's not reaching out to the equally clueless, just not as brainwashed middle-of-the-roaders, who somehow still think both parties are the same. Fortunately Republicans seem to be doing alot of that heavy lifting themselves recently.

      And why don't you practice what you preach yourself? Call your reps, the DEM party, whoever and tell them what you want to see done to start this little propaganda war. Just writing things on your blog and throwing shade at the only political party trying to act in the people's best interest isn't an good way to affect change. Especially since it's plenty clear most of your audience wants to do something but can't think of a way to do it themselves, and it's even more clear you haven't helped them in any meaningful way.

      And if you have done, good for you. Maybe you should mention that instead of pretending you can bring around people who have been voting against their own best interest for decades.

  69. Really, Jim. You are wordy. :) But essentially, you are correct. We cannot salvage our Republic as long as each side thinks of the other as vile, devil-possessed enemies. I suppose there are arguments that can be made to the effect that the GOP started this bullshit of no compromise, my-way-or-the-highway government (which either birthed or was birthed from that prevailing attitude among Mr. and Mrs. Joe American.) And we all watched Barack Obama squander his two years of Democrat Congress trying to bring the GOP to the table. So we think, "No way. Compromise gets you nowhere. No more Mr. Nice Guy."

    Well, guess what? NOT compromising hasn't gotten us anywhere, either. In fact, it has only hastened us along the road to perdition--as evidenced by the esteemed personage who sits behind the desk in the Oval office as we speak.

    If we Progressives want to crow that we love our country, we have to GET that the country consists of us, and people who don't necessarily embrace everything that we embrace. Our job is not to turn these people into US. It is to hammer out a way to live, play, work...prosper...side by side with them.

  70. How about WE (both sides) stop with the labels and other cutesy crap we do that enforces people with opposing positions to two dimensional beings, basically dehumanizing them? Is it really so freaking hard to listen to the other side, listen to what they fear and acknowledge those fears - even if many of those fears are the result of listing to Rush and Alex Jones? Not a single one of us is just one thing, no one should be defined and written off due to our political views. When we call each other "libtards" and "conservanuts" we accomplish nothing.

    Compromise is not a dirty word, it actually contains the word "promise". When we compromise we are promising the other party that we will do whatever it is that each of us agreed to do. We are trusting the other party to do the same. We do this every single day with family and friends...all of us. Yet once a person is a stranger in a comment board who expresses an opinion that is maybe slightly different than our own the kneejerk reactions from too many is to begin name calling and insulting total strangers. That gets us nowhere, and fast.

    I am pretty progressive, I have friends with opposing political views, and sometimes we have pretty spirited discussions. I try not to take things personally & sometimes start laughing afterwords. I don't try to change their minds, my goal is just to open those minds to the other side of whatever issue we are discussing. I personally try very hard to maintain a level of respect, even when I think the other person is being batshit crazy. Asking questions is essential. Writing someone off because you don't understand how they formed opinions you do not agree with seems like quitting a race in sight of the finish line.

  71. I *do* get what you are saying, because to some degree, I live this. I'm in a Red/Blue marriage. We have long, deep conversions understand each other's positions. We can do this because we have a foundation of trust and because we have a great deal of practice hashing out all of life's little (and big) differences. I wouldn't say we compromise our values so much as arrive at an understanding of each other's and act on what we share and practice live-and-let-live for the rest.

    However, I am at a loss to figure out how scale up to some hundred million or so Opposite Party, aside from some kind of internal Peace Corp/Mormon Missionaries knocking door-to-door. There's an awful lot of geography getting in the way.

    Finally, I must admit, the ultimate reason all this talk works for us as a couple is that we are not really that far apart politically: both centrists who happen to lean on a different foot. We have Tea Party friends who are very difficult to talk with about politics and getting more and more difficult as time passes. Lately, I don't expect any degree of conversation with them will lead to anything but frustration. The same goes for the far left as both extremes dig in their heels. I think we might have to let go of any assumption of mutual understanding and compromise with either of the extremes and just work the vast middle.

    1. If you can make a Red/Blue marriage work, then you ought to be able to make a Red/Blue country work.

  72. At the risk of sounding like I'm arguing semantics... when I hear (not "hear about," literally hear) arguments like "you libtards are coming for our guns" and "I'm not letting hairy men in dresses molest my women" and "people collecting welfare/disability are just trying to suck up to the big federal tit" (excuse me, 'teat'), I'm not hearing fear. I'm hearing accusations. Possibly born of fear, sure, but still accusations. And your response, Jim, seems to boil down to "And Democrats haven't done anything to prove them wrong." Well, no. No, we haven't. Because when it comes to accusations, you can't prove a negative. This is why, in our legal system, we don't ask the defendant to prove he or she is innocent. If eight years of Obummer not taking their guns, or locking them up in a secret network of underground FEMA camps in tunnels connecting Walmarts in Texas, if six years of women mostly being able to get birth control through their insurance companies not resulting in the takeover of the New World Order by hordes of lesbian witches, didn't prove these awful things weren't going to happen, I'm going to go out on a limb and venture to guess that nothing will prove their accusations false.

    So if by "compromise" you mean "prove our innocence" of the crimes they've decided to accuse us of, I'm afraid that's not going to work. Not because I'm philosophically opposed to establishing that I am not, and have never been, a lesbian witch bent on world domination (though I have a few friends who just might be, though even they aren't too keen on the paperwork that goes along with world domination), but because it's simply not possible.

    1. ... it's simply not possible.

      Ok. So now what?

  73. Jim, to me your essay suggests a greater sense of control and power than I feel that any of us have. I live in a small town in New Hampshire that is considered the most purple town in the state. My circle of family and friends is equally purple, and -- shockingly -- we all get along fine and can often find common ground. But I don't see that common ground translating into any of us voting differently next time around. And we also live in a media echo chamber. I can find common ground with my friends, family, and neighbors, but that doesn't mean they aren't going home afterward to watch Fox News while I turn on MSNBC or read the New York Times after they leave. And what does compromise even mean to the average person? What sort of political capital do we hold that even allows us to have the power to compromise something? Our representatives in Washington are not compromising. The media is not compromising. The billionaires that finance elections are not compromising. I get what you're saying from an ideological standpoint, but just not sure how it translates to real-world action and achievable results.

    1. ...how it translates to real-world action and achievable results.

      That's what political parties are supposed to be for. That's why they hire political strategists. That's why Democrats need a plan with clearly articulated goals.

  74. Jim - there is an alternative, and working on it will likely get to the conservative types you are thinking of who can be gotten to. That is to motivate the 50% who DIDN'T VOTE AT ALL to vote. Get 5% of them, and things change. And I think if Democrats go out in 2018 and campaign on "Do you want to keep what you have? Health care? That clean air you see now? The cars that aren't so polluting? etc., etc." (there are a lot of things on that list) And then say "You keep that by not voting for the guy who wants to kill it, who just spent every day of the past two years trying." I think a lot of people are getting an education they didn't expect these past 60+ days. If Democrats say "We are the big tent" we can change that. And we don't do it by nodding out to the people who will never listen. We do it by being who/what we claim to be.

    1. That's not an alternative.

      That's in addition to.

  75. There you go, being reasonable again.
    I have a friend that just admitted she can't stand Trump, but voted for him because she was just not going to vote for "her" and because she's always voted Republican. I always hear anecdotes of kids being punished for praying in school because these folks honestly believe that's what's going on, that kids that quietly pray will be suspended. They're scared. Those fears have to be answered, and no it won't be immediate or easy, but it must be done.

  76. Small typo I think:
    Democrats haven’t don’t a damned thing to dissuade conservatives of their fear.
    Should the 'don't' be 'done'? And forgive me if someone else has already mentioned. I scanned through the comments looking for it mentioned.

  77. When my marriage was breaking up and I didn't want it to, I did a lot of research on marriages and relationships. I got involved with an organization called Marriage Builders who counseled couples based on what I found to be very sound principles and techniques. One of the principles is a policy referred to as The Policy of Joint Agreement: "Never do anything without an enthusiastic agreement between you and your spouse." In theory this sounds great - and in practice it really works. However, when people with troubled marriages read or heard about this policy, they freaked out. "I'll never get to do ANYTHING if I have to get my husband/wife to enthusiastically agree to it!" Since I moderated and then administered their forums for a few years, I really saw how hard it was for people to understand how negotiation and compromise work. They all came into it on the defensive, feeling like the only one that was going to lose anything was themselves - that the other person was always going to win.

    This is the same idea, and we see the same reaction. Instead of "My wife will never enthusiastically agree to me spending one night a week going out bowling with my friends!" it's "Liberals/Conservatives will never agree to ___!" (fill in the blank).

    Finding a way to enthusiastically agree on something that benefits one party means trading off something that benefits the other. Find the core things you DO agree on and then increase your common ground by working outward toward the areas you cannot agree on. Walk back to where you are both still comfortable and can agree.

    It involves communicating in the same language - and even though we (mostly) all speak English, we aren't necessarily meaning the same thing when we talk about how we want to be happy, safe and financially comfortable. We are all Americans, but we really do have different cultures - and it falls on those of us who are willing to do the work to try and understand the "other" cultures and find ways that we can get that common ground. If we don't do it - and they don't do it - then nobody does it and we keep going like we are going now.

  78. So, part of what I seem to understand you to be saying is that we might be well served by restraining our urge to scoff at, laugh at, and otherwise dismiss conservative fears borne out of misconceptions put forth by what David Brock calls the Noise Machine.

    Instead, we should try to find ways to point out that, for example, that even if 90% of the white Christians move out of your small town and brown-skinned Muslims come and buy up all the homes and businesses left behind, our First Amendment means that the newcomers can't just up and pass Sharia into the municipal code, and they can't prevent you from going to church, and they can't force you to convert. The First Amendment works for all of us that way, and because it protects all of us, then if it protects 'you' from 'them,' it also protects 'them' from 'you.' Which means you can't single 'them' out for negative treatment based on their religion.

    Or to tell them that social safety net programs are there to help everyone, even people like them. And that anything they might believe about 'minorities on welfare' might possibly be related to a general attitude that 'some folks' don't deserve welfare... and to gently point out that when 'those folks' apply for jobs, a lot of the same people who do the hiring also have that attitude that 'those folks' don't deserve a job, either. And then you make the connection: If they don't deserve a job, and they don't deserve welfare, what do they deserve?

  79. I see plenty of room for compromise and I've been very vocal about it...but no one listens or they disagree. One big stickler with conservatives is their belief that their religious beliefs are being attacked. I almost have to agree with them. Why not allow them to keep their nativity scenes, 10 Commandment plaques, and Christmas carols in public places and schools? Let them have their school prayers. Let them have all of that - as long as other religions get their fair shake, too. Personally, I think it would be a great way to teach real diversity and tolerance, and to learn about the beliefs and traditions of other cultures. It would be a good way to meet people of other faiths and cultures and realize they're not any different than anyone else.

    Stop with the "identity politics". Democrats used to be known as the Party of the working class. Now it's just known as the Party of illegal immigrants and queers. Don't get me wrong; we absolutely should continue to defend and protect immigrants and members of the lgbt community, but NOT to the exclusion of the original Democratic base - which is the working class. And don't tell me that all that's left of the working class is either immigrants or lgbt's! I might include women in there, too. Not that women's rights aren't important - heck, I'm a woman and I've been a feminist since the late 1960s, back when it was REAL feminism and not just man-bashing lesbians. Back when women were fighting for the RIGHT to work outside the home, to use birth control without their husband's PERMISSION, the right to be considered EQUAL to a man in every way. (Ironically, Nevada just recently passed the ERA - 41 years after it was first passed - two more states and it's ratified! ) WHERE is the feminism toward that view? It seems to have all degenerated into reproductive rights, period. Feminism and women's rights are about so much MORE than our vaginas and what we do with them!

    Or how about the whole bathroom bill debacle. Compromise on that is simple. Give those people their own bathroom. They don't like it? Tough. We can't always get what we want. There's nothing wrong with being assigned your own bathroom, not when the alternative is using the bathroom assigned to your biological gender.

    I agree, we, as a people, have forgotten how to compromise. And that's too bad, because it's really hurting Democrats. Democrats not only need to learn how to compromise SMARTLY, but they need to learn how to TALK to conservatives in a way that will win them over. They haven't even managed to be able to do that, even though people like George Lakoff have offered their services to HELP them. Republicans, on the other hand, have been using the services of Frank Luntz for years now.

    Until Democrats learn to how to talk to and compromise with conservatives, they'll keep losing elections. And that's a terrifying thought, because I truly believe that Democrats have the best ideas for the well-being of everyone, overall.

  80. I agree with your premise. I'm just not sure how to reach out. I feel like conservatives are over-served by a fear machine with which I can't compete. They're invested in Fox News, Breitbart, and so on. Right wing politicians constantly lie to stoke fear about things that will never affect most people, then use it as cover for the agenda that *I* fear. I don't know how to compete with that, and I admit that's one of my weaknesses. I don't know where to start.

  81. Thank you, Jim, for once again bringing light to the major issue in our nation. That is, the lack of listening, talking (not yelling), and compromise. I do my best, in one-on-one coversations to talk to my conservative friends and neighbors without using political jargon and sound bites. We have much more in common than election results would suggest.
    The Democratic party has done a horrible job of explaining what they are "for". During this past campaign season, I attended two rallies for Hillary Clinton. At those rallies, she did an excellent job of laying out her vision for the nation. Yet, in debates and campaign commercials, her focus was on the shortcomings of Trump and the Republican party. Such a lost opportunity!
    Keep on keeping on, Jim!

  82. I've been reading recently about Meghan Phelps-Roper, the daughter of Fred Phelps, who recently left the Westboro Baptist church, in large part due to respectful interchanges with people outside the church on Twitter. What I need to remember is that the sea of red depicted in those maps is made up a lot of red dots, individuals. We can't broad brush all Trump supporters. Sure, there are die-hard Trump fanatics, but there are also those whose allegiance to him is much more fickle. Those are the people we need to engage with from a , listen to, find common ground with. We can't afford to stay in our blue bubbles!

  83. While the argument is valid, I feel it's necessary to point out that literally 40% of the ACA came directly cut & pasted from Republican health care bills, and over 100 Republican amendments were added to the bill.

    And look at how the bill was and is portrayed by Republicans.

    I'm not saying not to compromise, but I have to say that compromise doesn't always solve the issue, either.

    1. I never said compromise solves everything. It has to be part of larger strategy as implied by the essay. I can't cover everything in one article // Jim

  84. No doubt the Democrats have had a messaging problem. But it's almost impossible to message these morons. I live in Arizona. Try messaging any of them that the progressive agenda favors them and their personal self interest and they'll respond with global warming is a hoax.

    Also, what are we supposed to compromise? Name one good Republican policy in the last 20 years that we could compromise with. ONE. Bet you can't.

    1. Ok. So, again, what's your plan? Where do you go from here since you can't compromise?

    2. I'm not sure either side has to compromise their ideals or values .. but we can live together if we believed in the system .. i could live with some political defeats if I thought the game was fair .. unfortunately .. the system feels bought and paid for .. and it feels that way from pretty solid evidence ..
      So I don't know what "the plan" is .. I wish I did .. I wish somebody did ..
      I'm hoping this Golden Turd of a president will be as obvious to the "reasonable conservatives" (if there even is such a creature) .. that we all demand that the rules of the game are adhered to .. it does feel most recently that the lies and collusion will be exposed .. the courts seem to be standing up .. this all gives me some hope .. people are rising up .. demanding a fair system and transparency .. this gives me hope too ..
      But what's the plan? I don't fucking know ..

  85. What Republican policy in particular are we supposed to compromise with? I can't think of one thing they bring to the table that's good for anyone but the wealthy.
    And how do you compromise with those that vote against their own self interest? I agree the Democrats have had a messaging problem. But much of that problem has been trying to talk sense with a brick wall.
    The stupidity of this country may be too much to overcome.

  86. I'm a firm believer in compromise, and work for a conservation organization that takes a firmly middle-of-the-road approach (to many of our mostly-liberal employees' frustration) because we focus on an issue that can cross partisan divides and convince people who are otherwise skeptical of issues like climate change.

    But with that said, I have a hard time swallowing the idea that we're supposed to sympathize with what you admit are irrational fears. Educate, sure. But validating irrational fears just opens up room for even more, and more irrational, fears down the road.

    Abortion is the perfect example of this. Ten years ago we were assured that conservatives don't really want to control women, they just have icky icky feelings that we need to be sympathetic to. So the pro choice movement compromised and went along with "common sense" bans on particularly "icky" procedures like so-called partial birth abortions.

    Did that lead to pro-lifers and pro-choice joining arms and singing kumbayah? To meeting in the middle by acknowledging our shared interests in reducing the need for abortion by increasing access to contraception and education? He'll no, it just shifted the Overton Window and now pro-life conservatives are just going after ever more draconian bans, trying to eliminate abortion one step at a time.

    Because it wasn't really about their "icky" feelings in the end, it was about their desire to control women. And how am I supposed to compromise with someone who wants to control my body and my life?

    The problem as I see it is that too many people have been spoon-fed a diet of deliberate lies meant to instill and provoke fear, by conservative media, and it's been astonishingly successful. But people can emerge from that bubble with time and with education - and without my having to negotiate away my very humanity and right to exist as an independent person. I've seen it happen.


  87. Shelby Foote once said of the Civil War "It was because we failed to do the thing we really have a genius for, which is compromise. Americans like to think of themselves as uncompromising. Our true genius is for compromise. Our whole government's founded on it. And, it failed."

    There's a great deal of truth in the statement, but I feel it fails to properly explore the reason compromise was killed in the two decades before the war, a process we've seen repeated in this century.

    The pro-slavery forces did an excellent job in selling the idea to their followers that only by an aggressive, inflexibly,hard stance can they stop the radical forces of the other side from destroying their way of lives. They also used every chance possible to take any compromises their opponents were willing to make and then fail to live up to their half of the agreement. This served to make the opposition disinclined to make any future deals which was then used as "proof" to the average Southerner that abolitionists weren't willing to play by the rules.

    I don't think there is the possibility of proper compromise with the current GOP leadership. There is hope to reach the people they've lied to but I'm afraid it's going to take a metaphorical march to the sea level of disaster before most of them will stop and grasp what their leaders have brought down on their heads.

  88. It seems the the extremes of both parties love brandishing the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence at the drop of a hat, but don't know (or care) that both documents were products of massive compromise from both sides -- the Bill of Rights itself is a compromise. There are members of both parties who care less about truth than they do about "being right" Great essay!

  89. A personal example of reaching out to the other side. We had dinner a few weeks ago with some friends, kind, generous, good-hearted people who are conservatives. They "know" they are supposed to hate Obamacare. Fox News tells them so. Their conservative church tells them so. John is a partner in a small engineering sales business, and of course, that community tells him so as well. During dinner John's insulin pump alerted him to check his blood sugar and we got into a discussion about drug prices, which of course led to the repeal of the ACA currently underway. They are are not happy about the increased costs of the insurance they offer their employees, but they are also concerned about what will happen to their insurance plans. They are concerned about his brother's Medicaid/Medicare (he is disabled from a stroke). They would like people with pre-existing conditions to have affordable insurance. They get the three-legged stool analogy. But the government mandating individuals buying insurance (even though that's one of the legs), they have real problems with that. I saw an opening in the conversation and said, in a musing, kind of contemplative way, "of course, we hate being forced to do anything, but, really, if you went for a mortgage on a house you were buying and told the mortgage company that you weren't going to buy homeowner's insurance they'd show you the door."
    "Oh absolutely!" They said. "And a car loan too, they'd just roll it into the price and it would be take it or leave it."

    I didn't push it any further. The seed is planted.

    Note: This technique would not work on the drunk I sat next to at a wedding who wanted to show me how Muslims coming to this country were going to behead me.

  90. This is why I follow you, send you money, and forward everything you write anywhere and everywhere. And why you have thousands of people in your queue. Happy sorting, and now a Tylenol for my headache about figuring out a dialog of compromise. Back in the 60s a friend used to go a blue collar bar, and engage in conversation with very conservative people.about social issues, and by the end of the night, they were all for social security and universal healthcare, and everyone having a home and food, because really, who does not know at a gut level that this is all anyone really wants. I am going to figure this out. And thank you.

  91. Great article, Jim, and after years of following your blog, it has prompted me to finally comment on one with a single, simple question: how?

    Honestly not baiting you, I'm looking for an answer because I believe you're absolutely right. As I've recently told my friends, since the election I find myself now blocking more lefties than I ever did righties (mostly because I don't seem to have a lot of people on Facebook who are very "right"). I am literally (and, I mean that in the correct definition of the word) seeing pretty much the exact same wailings, whinings and bemoanings we heard from those on the right when Obama won. The actual reality is the lefties are just as terrified of the world as the righties. Which is why I try and consider myself somewhere up on the "Z" axis and ignore both their rhetoric.

    Back to my question...how? What does that compromise look like in words? I ask because I haven't been able to find them. I have no idea what to say to someone who believes transgendered people are just standing at the door of the public restroom RIGHT NOW waiting to pounce once it becomes legal for them to enter. There's nothing stopping transgendered people now from doing whatever it is the righties think they're going to do, and yet there's never been a case of it happening. "Doesn't matter, it's going to happen if we don't pass a law preventing it!" The irony being that's the opposite of "laws don't prevent crimes" argument they use for the second amendment.

    I've tried asking questions to understand their views better because I'm aware facts don't sway people. ("I haven't heard of that happening prior to this becoming a political issue, do you have any examples of transgendered people raping women in bathrooms so I can see how prevalent it is?" "I'm not doing your research for you, libtard!!") I've tried to find areas on which we, in theory, have some agreement. Specifically, as a gun owner, I try to get them to agree we really should try and do something to ensure everyone who has a gun actually IS a responsible gun owner because those folks are making us look bad..."fuck you, you just want to take away everyone's guns!!" "Um, as I said, *I* own guns, so no..." "Libby fayget!" I've even tried following the suggestions in this article "No, the SCOTUS saying the US government can't say who can and cannot get married will not result in your church being forced to marry gay people.." "Bullshit! That's what you god-hating assholes ALL want!" "I just said...." "ALL. OF. YOU."

    The interesting part being I live in Upstate, NY. You'd think our conservatives would be a lot more centrist given they live in a sea of blue, but I've found them to be completely intransigent. It's easy to say we should compromise with them, but how? Actual, concrete examples of successful conversations you've had would go a long way, I think, to making your point.

    Okay, it ended up being more than a simple question. :)

  92. How do we compromise? It is not easy. One person at a time. And not at a rally, and not confrontational. That parent who shares their fear of losing the medical insurance that their chronically ill child needs to stay alive? That co-worker who is makes a tweeter in chief joke? One person at a time. Friend, family, co-worker or acquaintance.
    You empathize with them. You listen. And later when their time of crisis is over you talk to them. You never mention their vote. "I told you so" should never, never, cross your lips. You do mention the candidate in the upcoming election who will support the issues they really find to be important. "Candidate X supports making sure your little girl will always have her medicine."
    One conservative at a time. One Trump voter, one "voted for tea partier" because "reasons", at a time. Our understanding and kindness will open the door to compromising with them. Compromise with the individual.
    Three. That is the number I have talked to directly. Three new independent voters. Three who understand that they have been lied to, and who will hopefully be more observant the next time they vote. We don't agree on everything. They still fear. So do I. That is compromise. It is not red or blue. It is purple.

  93. I fear that both parties are so entrenched in their platforms that I do not see either one making any changes that reflect the interests of the middle. Compromise is not part of either party's vocabulary.

    I am a whole life pro-life Hubert Humphrey Democratic wannabe. I am not wanted. Democrats for Life petitioned the DNC for a plank which would bring the pro-life movement back under 'the big tent'. The answer was no in spite of the number of voters it could bring in, including disaffected voters who now vote Republican.

    Since I am whole life, I think that we ought to have common sense gun laws and care about the environment; so the Republicans don't want me either.

    Perhaps, I am too old. I was a long time constituent of the Republican congressman, Henry Hyde. Back then, the parties would work together and believed in hammering out an agreement for the good of the country.

    From where I sit in no man's land, some of the liberal stands on issues, with which I do not agree, have become too extreme, too inflexible, for me to step over. Likewise, the Republicans. So, I remain in no man's land, sharing my opinions to my representatives, and being told that while they respect my position that they have no intention of altering, or even considering altering, their position. It is government of the party, by the party, for the party; and the money of the parties' national committees speak louder than the people. I only see more people dropping out of the political process, frustrated and believing that their vote and opinions no longer matter.

  94. I'd like to suggest that the phrase "finding common ground" would work better than "compromise" since that word seems to be a negative trigger for people on both sides. Reasonable person should be willing to explore what they have in common with others, which is less loaded than focusing on who has to give up what in order to reach a compromise. Actively listening also seems to be an endangered art. It costs liberals (which I consider myself to be) nothing to be willing to simply listen without judgement or being patronizing, but just that is potentially very, very powerful.

  95. Well said. I agree wholeheartedly. Compromise is hard, and none of us WANTS to do it, but sometimes it is a necessary evil. I am as liberal/progressive as they come, but I am weary of dealing those on the far left--many of them long-time good fiends of mine--who seem to think that accomplishing anything less than 100% of what they demand (and they/we seem to like that word) is failure. These are the same people who steadfastly refused to vote for Hillary Clinton because she didn't vote exactly as they wished on every single issue (neither did Bernie, but they would never admit that), so they declared she was "the same as Trump." I love Bernie; I voted for him in the primary. But when it came down to choosing between a crazed demagogue and a woman who has devoted her life to public service and, along the way, made a few decisions I didn't fully agree with, I was perfectly willing to compromise my idyllic visions in favor of the long game. We will never be able to find someone who agrees with all of us on everything. Such a person does not exist, as obviously even we liberals have different positions on certain issues. But when we demonize one group of people as "them," we are no better than the racist, misogynist, xenophobic bigots we claim to despise. I admit that I often rail against The GOP, as though that party were a monolithic entity; I do this mostly as shorthand, as I believe that most of the Republicans we hear from are all too happy to remain in lockstep with hardliners like Ryan and McConnell. But occasionally a voice rises above the crowd—- Graham, McCain, Collins, McMullin--who is willing to take a stand that is not in line with The Party. I would not vote for them (most of their views are NOT in alignment with mine), but I would work with them, as they have proven themselves willing to listen. We need to listen as well. On a personal scale, where we all must start, I have begun engaging people I know in general political discussions, feeling them out, and trying to find out why they vote the way they do and what matters to them. Amazingly, I find (as you, Jim, suggested above) that many of the self-identified conservatives hold views and values that are not diametrically opposed to mine but nearly in alignment, and they vote GOP (1) because they always have; (2) because they believe, contrary to data, that Democrats a spendthrifts and Republicans balance the budget; and, occasionally, (3) they aren't aware that they actually know people who are gay or transgender or Muslim or on public assistance--neighbors and colleagues and contacts who, if they recognize them as "other" in any way, they consider to be outliers. I grew up in a Republican-leaning small town where most people were on some form of assistance, so in that sense, little has changed. Part of being willing and able to compromise means speaking openly and clearly about what we believe in, hold dear, and are willing to work for, and then formulate plans to achieve it. Rather like how President Obama did for the past 8 years...

  96. Wow...I'm--dammit Jim, you've done it again. Another home run, knocked out of the damned park. Well done sir.

  97. I have found, in conversations on social media with people who see themselves as Conservatives, that not reacting to their pat conservative taunts in a knee-jerk way - but rather taking a breath and then responding by appealing to their intelligence, reason, and/or "Christian" values on subjects - gets a much more reasonable and agreeable response. It takes some time to take the wind out of their sails - let them spew their same-old talking points and bile towards "Liberals" and Obama, etc. - and some are beyond rational discussion - in which case I just stop bothering and refuse to argue simply for arguments sake. But once we get past their blocks and I'm able to lay out logic, common sense economics, and just plain decency/morality in a non-insulting manner, I've found I can reach at least some of them and we can find some common ground. (And I've got a profile that just screams Old Hippie Liberal - so they have to get past that stereotype too before they can see I'm not a two-headed Satan worshiper that dances naked in the moonlight.) But once we're able to find some common ground, we're able to have more, real, conversations AND...it opens their minds to engaging in conversations with other (shudder) liberal-minded people. It's a process.

    However, I think the label "Liberal" often causes minds to slam shut. It is convenient shorthand but, as Jim points out, the word itself can create fear in people who have lived smaller, more homogeneous lives. The media has pushed that association between Democrat and Liberal for quite a while. I believe we need to call them out on that when we see it - and suggest to Democratic politicians to disassociate themselves with that label as well.

    (I apologize for my sloppy writing and possible lack of coherence here - I've been working on taxes the past few days - and working one handed with a splint after tendon surgery last month - and am bordering on blathering idiocy but wanted to try to communicate my thoughts and efforts on this subject now. If I'm making no good sense, please feel free to not publish this.)

  98. I remember reading an article, possibly in Discover magazine, a few years ago, about a climate scientist who is an Evangelical Christian. She was spending time with her fellow church members, explaining climate change. Most of them were absolutely convinced that anthropogenic climate change is a liberal plot... but here was a person they knew and trusted, a member of their tribe, telling them that it was real. They could accept information from her that they could easily get somewhere else, but in this case the source was trusted.

    I was working a coin show with my husband a couple of months ago. Now, husband is not a full-time coin/collectible dealer, but he has this little side business to support his collecting hobby, and sells at shows. But he's also increasingly become recognized as an expert on certain collectible coins and tokens. Another dealer came over to ask Husband's opinion on a piece the other dealer been offered for sale, and after several minutes of technical chat we somehow got onto the subject of climate change. Oh, my, in three seconds my husband went from being respected expert to obvious tool of the liberal regime, from an authority inside the tribe of coin dealers/collectors to a cursed liberal outside the tribe of conservative politics.

    I think what we have in this country as a whole are people who can't or won't trust information that doesn't come from within their tribe, however they define that. The problem is on both sides of the political aisle, though I also believe that the liberal media tends (note that weasel-word) to be more accurate than the conservative media. It doesn't matter if only liberals accept information from those sources.

    So what I see is a wholesale breakdown in communication between left and right. Compromise? We aren't even speaking the same language anymore. That makes it tough to negotiate. So, I don't know how to fix this, though I do agree that it needs fixing and heel-digging isn't going to work.

  99. It's gonna be hard, so damned hard to talk to these people about such subjects. Let alone to find these rational people even. The internet has polarized opinions to such a degree now that it doesn't matter what someone thinks if they're not in line with you on a particular subject. These conversations must be done in person and that means a commitment of time that many do not have in our society as it is. I believe many people simply don't have the time to properly discuss serious issues eye-to-eye and that's when we can really connect and see each other as humans with different thoughts, ideas, feelings and with a right to exist.

  100. I'm a Canadian, living north of the 49th parallel. Not having lived or voted in the U.S. I can only watch, comment, speculate, and yes, sometimes laugh. I found Jim Wright's piece insightful, extremely interesting but above all, honest. None of us must be afraid of what we think or feel, whether or not it is agreeable to others. However, a total lack of humanity, common sense, education and sheer stupidity....that's tough to address....anywhere, anytime. I like the word compromise, it says so much. Common ground may never be found, but we can all compromise. We do this all the time, every day, especially for our families but particularly for our children. Just by giving birth we are compromising. But we are not just giving something up, we are also sharing, changing and growing. Why can't this be done for an entire nation? Give birth to a 'new' country....and as you 'raise' it, nurture it....compromise.

  101. You keep talking about these fears as if they were RATIONAL fears, as if the idea that fearing IS Navy landing craft coming ashore a Daytona Beach, of being attacked in the can by a Cambodian ladyboy in a cocktail frock, of fantasy ATF agents breaking in to steal your Desert Eagle were real things instead of oxycontin-fueled nightmares.
    How do you compromise with someone who would rather hurt themselves and their entire nation rather than have a widow from Veracruz cleaning up at the Motel 6?

    How does that work any better than the "compromises" that were tried and tried with the people who preferred to hurt themselves and their entire nation than accept that it wasn't cool to own another human like a box of Cap'n Crunch with Crunchberries?

    You keep asking us to compromise, so I'm asking you: how the hell do you convince people who live in a world of addled, unreal, brain-scrambled fear not to be addled, unrealistic, brain-scrambled cowards...especially when you know that the only way to calm their panic fear is to give them everything they want?

    That's not "compromise". That's "surrender".

    So you ask if "Die, die..." is preferable to compromise, I ask you; if you were a woman of childbearing age, an immigrant, a Muslim, a gay parent, a trans woman...how would "compromise" work better for you than "Die, die..."?

    Why shouldn't WE expect the frightened fools to compromise THEIR fearful foolery, instead?

  102. You forgot the quote from FDR!

    1. You mean the one that someone took to heart and said the 50's equivalent of "Hold my beer, bro, and watch this.". So it's now, "All we have to do is make them fear, fear itself." ?

  103. So Democrats are supposed to compromise when Republicans never do?...

  104. Awesome! (I said thanks with a Hamilton :^)
    I'm a white male cis hetero, living in the US. The "easy hand" in game of life according to John Scalzi. I'm going to say something about abortion, and to be honest I'd rather just recuse myself from the whole debate, and let women decide.
    I've mostly voted democratic, though I really have very little love for any party. Susan Collins is my fav, and Gorsuch seems like a good guy
    and should go through. (enough background)
    I wish liberals would stop whinnying (sp) EC, gerrymander, none of that matters for Prez or the senate.
    I've been hoping for compromise for years...
    which compromises everyone asks?
    My list,
    1.) budget deal that Obama and Boehner didn't get done.
    2.) Gang of eight deal on immigration.
    3.) Fix Obamacare.. and call it something else if you like.
    (It was "rammed down my throat" by the dems who lost the
    power to tweak it, I would like to see the senate craft some more moderate plan.)
    4.) Retirement age for SS has to go up. (that's just my soap box thing, I could go on with a list of comprises, that (at least I think) ~2/3 rds of people would go along with... there's lots to fix, my heart goes out to people who can't pee where they want... it's stupid, I think it will continue to get better.. (or move here, NY, higher taxes.)
    But we have much bigger problems IMHO

  105. "You can’t compromise with single minded stupidity. You can’t compromise with evil. You can’t compromise if somebody gets hurt. You can’t compromise with people who won’t compromise. You can’t compromise if you’re too centrist – because that’s somehow bad. We can’t compromise with people who got suckered because really fuck those people."
    The disdain expressed in that rationale is palpable. As long as an adversary is judged to be inferior, any opportunity of finding common ground is lost. The flip-side of that disdain might be an opportunity to champion.
    The way to compromise with fear is to drop your weapons and demonstrate no reason to be feared, just as one might approach an untamed kitten. Ironically (or perhaps, not so much), this might require losing a good deal of your own fear. Any consequential losses associated with that fear might then be temporary; and those losses can be regained with greater commitment, due to strength in numbers. Collateral damage can be kept to a minimum.
    But, first, we're going to have to get in the same boat, and learn to row, together.

  106. Jim, use this map, not the one you did here - it is a bit more telling of substance than calling even a county red or blue. Red and blue are more wide spread as this map shows. FYI (BTW, love your blog!)


  107. Jim, I think you are staring the answer right in the face, but you're not seeing it, or you're trying to get others to see it first and pretending you don't see it.

    The compromise that everyone wants is the evisceration of federal power at the local level. A renegotiation of federalism vs states' rights and the ability of local governments to make laws. This is the same argument that created the awful compromise of Reconstruction after the Civil War.

    Rural America hates the idea of someone from far away coming into town and telling them how to do things. Ameliorate that fear and a lot of compromise becomes possible.

  108. Having read every previous comment it surprises me that no one has mentioned the science of liberal brains vs. conservative brains. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/are-your-political-beliefs-hardwired-108090437/ This has been studied quite a bit and while it's not settled science there is enough data to at least take these physical differences into account. It may turn out to just not be possible to get conservative brains to think like liberal brains do. If your fear response overrides your rational processes, you CAN'T change your mind. "You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into."

    Sure, we should communicate as gently as possible with those who disagree with us, and also sure some minds will change over time. But time is on our side; the future gets more progressive. I say fix the voting problems (gerrymandering, EC, voter suppression), get the non-voters voting, move into red areas as much as possible, and make sure the elected officials hear our voices loudly and regularly.


  109. Maybe the fear is justified - on both sides - maybe we could actually, and maybe will be, united by fear. As you said, we all want the same things, and right now, it seems to me the agenda of those in power have little to do with the prosperous future of most americans. Typically, what i have found in personal experience is that when a greater threat looms, one that makes it obvious we are all in trouble - we tend to forget these labels and do what's right for each other. But of course that is a reactive mode (not proactive) - but these days, I become more convinced that is the current evolutionary point of humans. And unfortunately, it means more suffering before we concede to help each other. I guarantee you, pick a natural disaster - hell start with what happened in London yesterday - I can guarantee that not one person asked another or obvious victim in need "did you vote for or against brexit". The just pulled together an helped.

  110. bobmunch is quite correct. In my (red) state, most counties had 30% or more that voted Democrat. Not a majority, to be sure, but hardly a unified sea of red...

  111. I just haven't found a way to alay those fears Jim, and lord knows I always try. But in every instance, no facts, charts, graphs, or just person to person chit-chat can shake those fears because they believe I'm naive and mis-informed. We are a very polarized people, and a shit ton of mistrust on both sides. I mean, I'll play along with you, play nice, listen, seek common ground, and address their fears. But I really want to read your next post, because the republicans I know don't have much interest in compromise with the left.

  112. One place to start is to insist that the Democratic party compete in every contest, in every district. We have for years accepted the idea that certain districts are pure losers and there is no value in competing there. This guarantees that a certain percentage of the electorate never actually deals with a liberal (or progressive, or moderate) seriously competing for a political office - at any level. When people do run in one of these districts as a not-conservative Republican, they tend to be whack jobs that no one takes seriously - thus feeding the notion that liberals are bad. It is healthy for conservatives to actually meet candidates who disagree with them but don't appear (to the conservative) to be crazy. When there is no serious Democratic candidate, the only mental image of Democrats presented to the voters is from Fox news. When they have a real human to associate with the label of Democrat - someone they might actually know and recognize as serious - the perception starts to move. By the way - when I say compete, I mean field rational candidates. They don't have to be overwhelmingly successful immediately, but they have to provide a presence.

    This will be hard - it requires money and smart, aggressive party leadership (at all levels), and time and effort by lots of people who don't like where we are now. And it will be slow, requiring dedication and perseverance. But it also starts building a structure. When two-thirds of the states have legislatures dominated by Republicans - many of them ultra-conservative - we need to build from the bottom.

    By the way - not to hunt unicorns - a better long-term target than reversing the gerrymandering that has made it so difficult to shift the attitudes of elected officials might be doubling the number of congressional districts. That is a legislative change that would seriously disrupt existing gerrymandering, make it easier for candidates to run on a (relatively) limited budget, and (at least potentially) realign much of the existing congressional alliances.

  113. You've clearly articulated much of what I've been thinking for the last several years. Mostly I've come up with a big fat "I don't know" The only thing I can think of is that we need to change our narratives. We need stories, not facts. Figure out what we do have in common - and we do have commonalities - and tell those stories, not go barking after the ones about our differences. For a far left Democratic Socialist, Bernie Sanders has been exceptionally popular among Trump supporters. He has focused on income inequality and job loss as a root cause of many of our social problems and his Medicare for All proposal has also been surprisingly popular at a grassroots level with Trump supporters.
    Perhaps we do need a missionary style outreach, to go into the churches and home of the small towns. But instead of preaching the party line about our superior values we should first listen to their stories. Ask them question, not about abstract things, but their own lives. Then tell our own stories. So we can stop being sets of monolithic "thems" and become just people, each with our own story. Oh yes, and bring food.

  114. So we find people that like affordable healthcare, live in areas where they have or remember having clean water, or worry about losing their land to eminent domain or corporations. We talk about how everyone wants good schools for their kids. Build on those links. Maybe locate the representatives of every stripe that have a decent record on these things and talk to those who follow them. Building bridges indeed.
    I'm career Army and not too good at chit chat. But my time there did show me that those things you talk about are common and everyone skirts the dangerous stuff. If they don't, give em room to calm down or leave off the conversation.

    SFC 'Mike'

  115. Your ability to teach folks to pick up a subject and turn it this way and that so we see the different sides is truly an artistic gift sir. Thank you for another brilliant essay!

  116. I realize that the last 15+ years the propaganda machine has been in overdrive as regards to terrorism. Prior to that talk radio was on the upswing regarding Mrs. Clinton and her being an un-elected co-president. Still the country worked. We have more in common than not. This is where reaching across the aisle comes into play. Find not the thousand points of light, but the searchlight trying to keep their healthcare (KY) or those who don't want to lose their land to a memorial to an intransigent administration (TX, AZ, CA, NM). If WE do not take this opportunity to reach out and help our fellow citizens, show them we all want the same things: food, clothing, shelter, a good paying job, health insurance, a place to pee and all the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights, all being created equal, etc. Otherwise, the Democratic Party will have done it again, lost what was theirs to win.

  117. I'm not going to tell you you're wrong, you're not. But the baffling part is how. How can we convince people that they're backing the wrong horse?
    I'm somewhat appalled by what's happening in Congress and the White House right now, but not really surprised. Paul Ryan, Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, they aren't doing anything that I didn't expect them to do. The only thing that surprises me is how blatant they're being.
    What's bothering me most, honestly breaking my heart, is moderate conservative friends. People who I've eaten dinner with, shared drinks with, worked hard with. People I know to be intelligent, educated, and reasonable. And I can't talk to them now. I ask questions, and I get talking points. Muslims are destroying America, Hillary wants my guns, Obamacare is socialism, taxes are theft. The whole fucking nine yards. I could literally listen to Hannity and hear the exact same messages. And these are people I know, respect, and have called my friends. If I can't persuade them on anything, compromise with them on anything, then how the hell is some politician ever going to get their vote?
    I don't get schadenfreud from their reservations about Trump. I can hardly get deeply qualified acknowledgment that he might not be doing such a great job. Sure, some of the conservative pundits are expressing concern, but most of the rank and file seems to be in lock step.
    I want very badly to see compromise and civil discourse, and I try to do my part, but my friends, I cannot stress enough, my fucking friends seem to be reveling in my pain. "Look mother fucker this is what we've been going through" is the dominant sentiment. I want to understand it, but i can't. If somebody else can, apparently I need it spelled out on little words.

  118. The wisdom of your thesis is so clear and true; it's frustrating as hell to witness so many liberals watch it fly directly over their heads. Reading the comments above produces in my head the image of a person walking straight into an easily seen wall, cursing the wall for obstructing him, and then repeating the pattern of collision and exclamation over and over with no variation or evolution.

    I'll admit, I have allowed frustration to bubble over at times. I've had moments where I have behaved stubbornly partisan and unreasonably hostile towards the opposition. It has been a challenging, provocative period in American politics (then again, when hasn't it?), and it's sometimes too easy to give in to the antagonistic nature of our disputes and condescendingly dismiss the fears and grievances of our opposition.

    But at some point, we have to get over our outrage and despair, and allow ourselves to be solution-oriented. We MUST refresh the commitment to our cherished values, by reassessing our strategy to achieve the manifestation of them.

    I was so moved by your earlier essay which sharply reminded me, "Either we are who we say we are, or we aren't." (not sure if my memory this late at night serves me well enough to capture your quote verbatim, but I'm fairly confident the gist of your very profound point is still appropriately represented here).

    It's fascinating how accurately you predicted the reaction, by our own ideological brethren, to your use of the word “compromise”. It shouldn't be stigmatized as so obscene a word, especially among liberals. I'm incredulous at how your readers are so aghast at the employment of such a beautifully defined noun. It appears that in today's political climate, "compromise" is a concept as foreign to distraught liberals, as are desperate immigrants and refugees to xenophobic conservatives.

    Americans - liberals and conservatives alike - should be well attuned to the notion of compromise, beyond any other society in the history of human civilization. Compromise was supposed to be the one lasting ideal from the founders of our Republic. It's not only codified in our Constitution, but the very ratification of the sacred governing document itself was born from it. It's high time we remind ourselves of this history and reconnect to the ideals we seem to have lost; these are perhaps the only remaining ties that bind us as Americans.

    Thank you, for exposing "our side” for being just as capable as our opposition, to forget the intended virtues of the American experiment. I will take this lesson to heart and examine how to best put the concept into action. I hope we all can, for everyone's sake.


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