Pigeons and Politics

Arguing With Pigeons

I offer this image to help you on this holiday that I hope you are spending with disparate family and friends. My point is not what is says in this image. As far as I can tell, this was originally a poster from a libertarian perspective aimed as “statists.” Liberals think this applies to conservatives and conservatives think this applies to liberals. And do you know what? They’re both right. Sort of.

Here’s how it goes: most people are not that into politics. It’s a tribal thing. And so they don’t know what they’re talking about. Most of them never talk about politics, so it doesn’t matter. But I know when I talk to liberals, they often think the silliest of things. If I were a conservative, I would be all over them. (As a liberal, I am too—but very gently.) So if I were Josh Barro, I would think that most liberals were idiots who were immune to facts.

Most liberals just watch regular news, though. Thus, what most liberals believe is roughly correct, even if it is neither broad nor deep. The problem comes in with the conservative media echo chamber. It takes regular conservatives and turns them into extremely ill-informed conservatives. These ill-informed conservatives often get the impression that liberals are ignorant because they are hearing totally different news. As I noted before, in the conservative media echo chamber, Solyndra is still a big issue. So the problem is these conservatives think they know a lot and the misinformation they “know” makes them think that other people who don’t “know” the same stuff are ignorant.

If you are at a party with a thoughtful conservative, you should have no trouble having a good conversation where you might even learn and rethink some things. I don’t think anyone needs any help in such situations. If you are at a party with a Fox News fan, however, you need to stay off difficult topics. I have found that I can make progress with such conservatives by staying off issues that Fox News is pushing. So no talk of Duck Dynasty. No talk of Obamacare. No talk of the ethnicity of Santa Claus. But you might find some common ground on corporate welfare. Or the fact that public schools get different levels of funding based upon how rich the kids are. (Property taxes!) Or why we pay double what other countries do for healthcare—but be careful with that one.

I think politics is important. And I especially think it is important to talk to the other side. So try to find some common ground. And if that’s not possible—if they are just angry conservatives who hate just about everyone and everything—change the subject to sports. That Atlanta-San Francisco game Monday night was amazing!

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