Coulda, shoulda (Russia)

In the last week we have seen complaints, from President Trump and others including some Democrats, to the effect that President Obama didn’t do enough to discourage or prevent Russia from meddling in our 2016 elections.

When we think and talk about this matter, we should recall that we are buried up to our hips in our polarized partisanship, and that the partisanship strongly affects our perceptions, thoughts, and actions—typically not for the better. Continue reading

Would it help?

If I do as I intend, I will not be writing to express anger, outrage, dread, or condemnation. Why? After all, I am a consistent Democratic voter whom most conservatives would call a definite liberal. I think we Americans are more likely to thrive, and more likely to achieve some reasonable version of e pluribus unum, when we draw Presidents from more of the talent pool than we so far have. So, I wanted to elect a woman.

I contributed money to Hillary Clinton’s campaign and worked in it. On Election Day, I voted happily for Clinton and firmly against Trump. After the election, I have felt the grieving, among women I know, at Clinton’s winning the popular vote but losing the Electoral College. Since Donald Trump took office, I have often disagreed with or disapproved of what he has said and done.

So why am I not writing to express anger, outrage, dread, or condemnation? Continue reading

Whose side are you on?

As I try to think and write about the polarized partisanship between Democrats and Republicans, from some third point of view, I often hear a little voice saying, “But whose side are you on, Tom?” Sometimes I have to stop and recall a crucial distinction: It is one thing to choose my own stances regarding various issues, and quite another thing to choose a strategy for promoting those stances. Continue reading

Anger is not enough

That was the title of David Leonhardt’s column in the New York Times. He opened with this:

If you’re angry about President Trump’s decision on the Paris climate accord, I’m right there with you. But anger won’t solve the problem. So I encourage you to ponder this question: What would a more politically persuasive message about climate change sound like?

I don’t pretend to know the answer, but I do think it’s worth some humble reflection. So far, those of us agonizing over the planet’s future have failed to win over enough of our fellow citizens to accomplish what we desperately believe to be necessary.

Continue reading

Livid

Some who have studied our polarized partisanship report that it has been growing and worsening for perhaps thirty years [see Polarized partisanship]. I seem to recall that some or many Republicans were livid (furiously angry) at Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary. Then some or many Democrats were livid at George Bush the younger. Then some or many Republicans were livid at Barack Obama. Now some or many Democrats are livid at Donald Trump. Disapproval of presidents of the other party is one of the measures of polarization. Continue reading