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Richard Sheffield: Racial Preferences and productive debate

Take a look at this smart piece by Richard Sheffield in the Deseret News on how the Supreme Court can become a role model for the kind of discussions we ought to be having about our disagreements. Here’s a snip:

While anticipating the court’s decision, I wonder how we can better handle disagreement and tension between the two sides of tough issues. Also, the recent racial tumult at the University of Missouri has spread to the Ivy League and beyond, increasing the focus on competing racial issues and the related on-campus arguments.

What amount of ugly rhetoric should be allowed as free speech, even though offensive? Should race still be considered in admissions to increase diversity in campus debates? When do volleys shot between two sides become counterproductive?

Ironically, I think the Supreme Court justices themselves can serve as a model for fruitful interaction on highly charged issues — whether on campuses, in Congress or City Hall, or even at Christmas dinner.

Read the entire piece by Mr. Sheffield online at the Deseret News.



Something to Consider: America’s Dirtiest Secret: We Agree On a Lot of Stuff

The below guest post is from Something to Consider, a Bridge Alliance organization (The Village Square is a member). The material is from the book Wedged.

Americans have this very popular notion that we really don’t agree on anything politically.

Such a notion is so pervasive that to suggest otherwise seems like a bit of a fairy tale. Americans of each party look upon the other with ever-increasing antipathy – so much so that almost ⅓ of party voters see the other party as a threat to the nation.

antipathy

Congress also shows real evidence of no longer agreeing on anything at all:

congress

 

All this looks incredibly dire. The most tempting conclusion to draw, of course, is that Americans disagree on more than they ever have before. In each party, we’re very much encouraged to propagate such a belief.

But America has a dirty secret that party leaders and media outlets don’t want you to know: as a country, we have broad agreement among issues that seem intractable and completely split. Let’s look at a few of the most seemingly-polarized examples: abortion and guns.

Abortion:

When polled whether they are “pro life” or “pro choice,” Americans have been split nearly 50-50 for 20 years.

abortion-agree

But it turns out these distinctions, while not totally meaningless, tell us very little about one’s political positions on abortion.

abortion

For example, when we ask Americans to state their political preferences about abortion restriction timelines, 85% are willing to choose either 20 or 24 weeks as a cut-off. Only 8% insisted that abortion should be always or never legal, regardless of timeline.

We also know from repeated polling that consistently, over 80% of Americans want abortion to be legal but with some restrictions. It’s about 10% each that never want any restrictions at all, and about 10% that never want to allow abortion at all. Between is a wide spectrum of varied and often conflicting views about timetables, exceptions, parental notifications, etc.

This spectrum and nuance allows for discussion and an attempt to seek understanding, where the labels of “pro life” and “pro choice”–which seem to have very little to do with one’s policy preferences at all–do not.

Guns:
We see a similar seemingly wide gap between “gun control” advocates and “gun freedom” advocates when we ask broad questions about guns. In this case, about 50% of Americans consistently want stricter gun control laws, and about 50% either want them kept as they are or scaled back.

gun-opinions

Such a question paints us as fiercely pitted against each other, but it is deceptive. Within the incredible complexity of what the many gun control laws entail, how many people are really going to be simply “for more” or “for less?”

It turns out that when you ask people about specific policy questions, not only do their views become more nuanced, but we can see a broad amount of agreement among Americans.

gun-control

For the majority of these common gun control concepts, Americans have 80% or more agreement. On other questions like high-capacity clips, we have the potential for a productive discussion if we put aside our “pro gun control” or “pro gun freedom” labels.

Why the discord?
There are a lot of policy questions about which Americans have a lot of different ideas. In this way, disagreement is a great thing: it means many ideas come to the table to “duke it out” in the hearts and minds of the country.

But why do we think that some disagreement means we have little or nothing in common with people of the other party?

There are folks that have a strong interest in you believing you have nothing to agree on with the other party: namely, politicians.

The most consistent and reliable voters are those who are most consistently conservative or liberal. So politicians running for election actually have a political incentive in order to transform us from being more moderate to being more extreme, as we become more valuable to them.

u-shape

They’ve gotten good at it.

These incentives are very powerful and can’t be fixed by pleas or demands for bipartisanship or civility. We have to undermine these forces at their root.
In the “illuminating” and “powerful” new book Wedged, Erik Fogg and Nathaniel Greene uncover these forces and provide concrete steps for Americans to identify when they are being manipulated into supporting partisan extremes, and how to help themselves and others fight back.



Senator Ben Sasse: “This is not a call for less fighting, this is a call for more meaningful fighting”

In case you missed this last week…



Quotable: From Paul Ryan’s Speaker of the House Acceptance Speech

“We will not always agree—not all of us, not all of the time. But we should not hide our disagreements. We should embrace them. We have nothing to fear from honest differences honestly stated. If you have ideas, let’s hear them. I believe a greater clarity between us can lead to a greater charity among us…

“A lot is on our shoulders. So if you ever pray, pray for each other— Republicans for Democrats, Democrats for Republicans. And I don’t mean pray for a conversion. Pray for a deeper understanding, because—when you’re up here, you see it so clearly—wherever you come from, whatever you believe, we are all in the same boat.”



Citizens for Political Reform: Tired of partisan bickering and political gridlock?

The Bipartisan Policy Center has launched an initiative called Citizens for Political Reform to empower regular people to do something about the current political environment (other than scream and throw objects at your television set). Sign up to get information from them here. Also tune in next Tuesday, June 24th from 10am to noon as the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Commission on Political Reform presents a “Bipartisan Blueprint.” Click here for livestream and registration information.

Follow them on Facebook and Twitter.



Chris Christie gets Village Square points: Part 2

On election eve:

“Let me tell you, if you’re looking for the candidate that you agree with 100% of the time, then I want you to do something for me tonight: Go home and look in the mirror, because that’s the only person you agree with 100% of the time. But sometimes we make political candidates feel like that’s what you want. Like you want us to agree with you 100% of the time or you won’t vote for us. You know what happens then? If you make politicians believe that, you know what they’ll do, they’ll just lie to you. They’ll just look you in the eye and they’ll say ‘hm, I wonder what she wants to hear.”’..



Chris Christie gets Village Square points: Part 2

On election eve:

“Let me tell you, if you’re looking for the candidate that you agree with 100% of the time, then I want you to do something for me tonight: Go home and look in the mirror, because that’s the only person you agree with 100% of the time. But sometimes we make political candidates feel like that’s what you want. Like you want us to agree with you 100% of the time or you won’t vote for us. You know what happens then? If you make politicians believe that, you know what they’ll do, they’ll just lie to you. They’ll just look you in the eye and they’ll say ‘hm, I wonder what she wants to hear.”’..



Chris Christie gets Village Square points: Part 2

On election eve:

“Let me tell you, if you’re looking for the candidate that you agree with 100% of the time, then I want you to do something for me tonight: Go home and look in the mirror, because that’s the only person you agree with 100% of the time. But sometimes we make political candidates feel like that’s what you want. Like you want us to agree with you 100% of the time or you won’t vote for us. You know what happens then? If you make politicians believe that, you know what they’ll do, they’ll just lie to you. They’ll just look you in the eye and they’ll say ‘hm, I wonder what she wants to hear.”’..



Chris Christie gets Village Square points: Part 1

Part 2 comes tomorrow.

From last night’s New Jersey gubernatorial victory speech:

We still fight, we still yell. But when we fight, we fight for those things that really matter in people’s lives. And while we may not always agree, we show up everywhere. We just don’t show up in the places that vote for us a lot, we show up in the places that vote for us a little. We don’t just show up in the places where we’re comfortable, we show up in the places where we’re uncomfortable.



Jeb on Hillary. Two old families feeling a little new right about now?

Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush shared a stage in September. Jeb Bush awarded Clinton the 2013 Liberty Metal (awarded by the National Constitution Center, which Bush chairs) at the event, honoring her commitment to civic engagement, particularly with women and girls. Apparently he took some grief for it, mortal enemies (rather than civic partners) that we’ve become. Here’s his comment at the time:

“While Secretary Clinton and I disagree on many issues, we certainly agree on the importance of civic engagement.”

This week former Governor Bush was interviewed by ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl about the experience:

Jonathan Karl: “What was that conversation like?”

Jeb Bush: “It was very friendly. Treating people fairly and with civility is not a bad thing. It would be good for our country if political leaders actually took that to heart.”



Jeb on Hillary. Two old families feeling a little new right about now?

Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush shared a stage in September. Jeb Bush awarded Clinton the 2013 Liberty Metal (awarded by the National Constitution Center, which Bush chairs) at the event, honoring her commitment to civic engagement, particularly with women and girls. Apparently he took some grief for it, mortal enemies (rather than civic partners) that we’ve become. Here’s his comment at the time:

“While Secretary Clinton and I disagree on many issues, we certainly agree on the importance of civic engagement.”

This week former Governor Bush was interviewed by ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl about the experience:

Jonathan Karl: “What was that conversation like?”

Jeb Bush: “It was very friendly. Treating people fairly and with civility is not a bad thing. It would be good for our country if political leaders actually took that to heart.”



Disagreement IS in the American family



A set of sensible legislations (that stand a chance of passing)? Sort of Shocking…