Another approach to discussing issues across the divide

Screen Shot 2017-08-11 at 11.42.30

Much normative (or value-based) reasoning by liberals (and mainstream economists) is about the consequences of political actions for the welfare of individuals. Statements about the desirability of policies are based on trading off the consequences for different individuals….

…Meanwhile, much conservative normative reasoning is about procedures rather than consequences. For example, as long as property rights and free exchange are guaranteed, the outcome is deemed just by definition, regardless of the consequences. People are “deserving” of whatever the market provides them with.

pub. 08/2017

In turning the ship around, a challenge to progressives

Screen Shot 2017-07-09 at 15.33.18

For Rorty, a Left that neglects victims of economic selfishness will not only fail; its neglect of class will trigger a terrible backlash that ultimately ill-serve the very groups that Leftist identity politics are intended to help. “The gains made in the past forty years by black and brown Americans, and by homosexuals, will very likely be wiped out,” he worried. “Jocular contempt for women will come back into fashion. The words ‘nigger’ and ‘kike’ will once again be heard in the workplace. All the sadism which the academic Left has tried to make unacceptable to its students will come flooding back. All the resentment which badly educated Americans feel about having their manners dictated to them by college graduates will find an outlet.”

pub. 07/2017

You’ll read this as either solidarity or as a five-minute challenge in empathy building

Screen Shot 2017-06-14 at 08.54.26

I started begging people to say something, anything. When people responded at all it was to say something like, “I don’t think it’s my place,” or “I’m not really comfortable.” I was falling apart and my community was afraid of being uncomfortable….time and time again I ran into the wall of apathy that said, “this is where we stop. This is the limit of how much we can invest in your humanity.”

pub. 06/2017

The politics behind right-wing climate change denial

Screen Shot 2017-06-05 at 08.55.44

“Most Republicans still do not regard climate change as a hoax,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican strategist who worked for Senator Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign. “But the entire climate change debate has now been caught up in the broader polarization of American politics.”

“In some ways,” he added, “it’s become yet another of the long list of litmus test issues that determine whether or not you’re a good Republican.”

pub. 06/2017

On the confluence of political and economic division in America

Screen Shot 2017-05-24 at 16.51.30

The idea that an increasing sense of material precariousness can lead to cultural retreat from liberalizing “self-expression” values can help us understand why low-density white America turned out to support a populist leader with disturbingly illiberal tendencies. But this idea can also help us understand why our larger national culture seems to be growing apart in a way that has made it seem harder and harder to communicate constructively across the gap.

pub. 02/2017

Okay, this one is a bit of a challenging read. It’s an interesting analysis, though, and from a libertarian rather than liberal source. And there’s fun with data visualization.

Opinion: “Free speech” isn’t that simple

Screen Shot 2017-04-27 at 14.41.12

Lyotard shifted attention away from the content of free speech to the way certain topics restrict speech as a public good. Some things are unmentionable and undebatable, but not because they offend the sensibilities of the sheltered young. Some topics, such as claims that some human beings are by definition inferior to others, or illegal or unworthy of legal standing, are not open to debate because such people cannot debate them on the same terms.

When one person’s “free speech” is a dismissal of others’ humanity or a demand that others justify their humanity, the latter are either treated as non-participants in the debate or have their participation limited to defending their right to be there–which means they don’t truly have free speech themselves. Thus:

It has been regrettably easy for commentators to create a simple dichotomy between a younger generation’s oversensitivity and free speech as an absolute good that leads to the truth. We would do better to focus on a more sophisticated understanding, such as the one provided by Lyotard, of the necessary conditions for speech to be a common, public good. This requires the realization that in politics, the parameters of public speech must be continually redrawn to accommodate those who previously had no standing.

pub. 04/2017

Audio + Transcript: The deep-rooted, inflexible source of some Trump support

Screen Shot 2017-04-25 at 15.08.38

Audio at link, transcript here.

Lakoff: Boy, did he know what he was doing. He knew perfectly well what he was doing. First of all, there are in this country about 35 percent of Americans who have what I call a strict father morality…

…[If] you look at history, you will see that the strict fathers win. And you can take a look at who wins, and they win because they’re right. That morality and authority go together, that the strict father knows right from wrong. So that if you want to see who’s better than who, you look at who beat who….

…That is what Trump not only believes, he hacks and he assumes is correct. And he knows that about 35 percent of the country — the 35 percent who still support him — that, you know, who also believe this, even if they’re poor…. It’s self-definition, and people don’t vote against their self-definition. Not only that, it doesn’t matter if Trump lies to them, and they know he’s lying, because there’s a higher truth, which is strict father morality itself, which has consequences and that they are truer than any lies. And that if you deny that, if you accept the lies as more important, you’re denying your self-identity. That is why there are alternative facts.

(Quote from transcript) pub. 04/2017