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How often do you venture outside your political bubble?


Sandy Bridge
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After a mention of politics in another thread, where I mentioned that I consider myself a "diehard moderate" by today's standards, I got to thinking that an interesting question might be, how often do you get outside of your political bubble?  By that, I primarily mean either interacting with people who generally hold different views (in a civil manner!), or spending time in places that generally have different political views, although spending time reading political views that differ from your own online or print also counts, if it's done intentionally.

 

I suspect doing this more often than the average American is part of why I'm relatively moderate, with the other major factor being a general aversion to ideologues, and preference for practicality.

 

One of the biggest items that I do in this regard is spend time on the other side of the urban/rural divide.  I like in a relatively liberal city (by Midwest standards; it's conservative compared to Portland, Oregon).  But most of my recreational activities are in rural areas.  And the people I meet there have all been decent people, not the people pressed against the windows of the Statehouse screaming and looking like zombies during covid protests.  Those people must live somewhere too, but I haven't met them.  Conversely, I've read a surprising amount of comments on Fox News where people say some variant of "the big cities are like DMZs".  I'd be willing to bet most of those people have not been to a big city in a long time.  I have, including in some parts of town that even a fair amount of big city residents consider to be "bad" parts of town.  Obviously the crimes the local media reports on must happen somewhere, but I've never felt unsafe.  I've been to a couple other big cities in the past year as well, and same thing - even visiting friends in areas that people my parents' age raise eyebrows about, the only hazard was the possibility of not finding a parking spot.

 

Another is reading letters to the editor or similar direct statements from politicians of the opposite party, or at least the moderate ones.  I watched the State of the State address by the governor of my state, who's from the "other" political party, and you know what?  It all sounded like pretty darn reasonable things to be working toward.  Granted, he's on the moderate wing of his party, but it was a great example of, "the other guys aren't evil, and actually have some good ideas"  I find it unfortunate that we don't see more focus on this sort of long-form direct quoting of elected officials in the news, where selective quoting (often without context) is often more common.  I remember buying a copy of a small-town West Virginia newspaper last fall, where they had a lengthy letter to the editor from a state senator explaining why he supported certain policies he did, and also had a minimally edited version of a recent address from President Biden (just enough to make it fit on a whole page).  It was refreshing to see that at least one newspaper still publishes direct news, not re-processed, even from politicians in the party their readers are not likely to agree with, so those readers can make directly informed decisions.

 

Probably the most outside-the-book cross-aisle decision I've made it going to a rally of a politician in the opposite party, and not in the moderate wing of the party, either.  Said politician failed to convince me to switch allegiances, but it was an interesting experience.  Why do it?  Well, tickets were free and available, and I had nothing else going on that night.  Why not hear from the horse's mouth?  I wasn't going to be the obnoxious guy who roots for the Yankees in Fenway, but no one seemed to notice or mind my fairly low amount of applause, and the supporters seemed pretty reasonable as we waited in line to get in, if a bit enthusiastic during the rally.  Perhaps my biggest takeaway is that it's unfortunate that political rallies are aimed at those who already believe in the candidate.  Sure, they're the easiest to convince to show up.  But wouldn't you convince more people to vote for you if half or more of the audience was undecided, or leaning towards another candidate?  I noticed a few other people with lukewarm responses, so I reckon there were some other people there trying to decide who to vote for, but they were a distinct minority.

 

So, do you make sure you hear from the opposite side of the aisle, whether through real life experience or in print?  Or do you just trust that whatever your side says is right?

 

(And yes, I realize that I'm probably asking for 90% of the audience to hate me.  It's okay, I cherish the 8% of people who are still on the moderate wings of their party, and the 2% who are really moderates.  I've even found a few of them to be friends IRL, so I'll survive if you add me to your ignore list for being too moderate)

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Personally I do not trust politicians. No matter what party.

 

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I think politics at the major national political party identity level is a team sport.  In my opinion it's nearly impossible, by design, to have a meaningful discussion starting with party identity and going from there.  If both sides are in the same party, then you basically rehash talking points already used by your party to define itself.  If you identify with opposing parties, then you attempt to bash each other talking points with other talking points designed to do that.

 

I think it's a lot more interesting (and potentially rewarding) to discuss issues that fall outside of party identity.  There are a lot of issues that need to be solved locally and/or globally and I think discussions can lead to a learning curve that can be rewarding to pursue.  This can happen completely outside of political party identity though people may have to be willing to rein that in at times.

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[Edit]
Wrote a long thing but decided after several weeks that I don’t want to leave it up here.

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I live in a place where the majority are outside my bubble, so maybe the answer is "daily" 🙂

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