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10 Steps To Finding Common Ground

By       Message Robert B. Reich       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   No comments

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From Robert Reich Blog

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Trump has intentionally cleaved America into two warring camps: pro-Trump or anti-Trump. Most Americans aren't passionate conservatives or liberals, Republicans or Democrats. But they have become impassioned for or against Trump.

As a result, people with different political views have stopped talking with each other. This is a huge problem because democracy depends on our capacity to deliberate together.

So what can we do -- all of us -- to begin talking across the great divide? Here are 10 suggestions:

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1. Don't avoid political conversations with people who are likely to disagree with you, even in your own family. To the contrary, seek them out and have those discussions.

2. Don't start by talking about Trump. Start instead with "kitchen table" issues like stagnant wages, shrinking benefits, the escalating costs of health care, college, pharmaceuticals, housing.

3. Make it personal. Ask them about their own experiences and stories. Share yours. Try to find common ground.

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4. Ask them why they think all this has happened. Listen carefully and let them know you've heard them.

5. If they start blaming immigrants or African-Americans, or elites, or Democrats, or even Obama -- stay cool. Don't tune out. Ask them about why they think these people are responsible.

6. Gradually turn the conversation into one about power -- who has it, who doesn't. Ask about their own experiences at work, what's happened to their jobs, how others among their families and friends are treated.

7. Ask them about the roles of big corporations and Wall Street. For example:

--Why is it that when corporations and Wall Street firms violate the law, no executive goes to jail?

--Why did Wall Street get bailed out during the financial crisis but homeowners caught in the downdraft didn't get help?

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--Why do big oil, big agriculture, big Pharma, and Wall Street hedge-fund managers get special subsidies and tax loopholes?

8. Get a discussion going about how the system is organized, for whom, and how it's been changing. For example:

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Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor and Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, has a new film, "Inequality for All," to be released September 27. He blogs at www.robertreich.org.

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