Conservative or Liberal? Political Polarization? How do You Fix the Problem?

I used to consider myself very conservative in the traditional sense. I'm fugal, pragmatic, and generous. I believe in local control. I believe in democracy and that everyone has an equal right to self-efficacy and self-determination. We should protect the sanctity of individual choice so long as it doesn't interfere with my neighbors'. Live and let live. You leave me alone, and I'll leave you alone. Listen. Learn. To me, those ideals seem like the cornerstone of the American tradition. Where did they go? Over time, these ideas were co-opted by politicians who were more concerned with winning elections than governing, more interested in enriching themselves and their friends than ensuring that our free markets and institutions worked for ALL of us, instead of against us.

We live in an ugly world of pundits, politicians, and political operatives that degrade our national conversation with anger, self-righteous indignation, and shouting matches in order to win re-tweets, Facebook likes, and Google Ad dollars. The media and the internet have found a way to financially incentivize us to hate our fellow Americans. 

I can't call myself Conservative anymore, but neither can I call myself Liberal. Both labels have lost their meaning. They are sour leftovers from the long-deceased Twentieth Century. They have become hollow expletives that are hurled indiscriminately... rhetorical grenades that do more to define the person doing the throwing. "Look at me! Look at me! I'm not one of THEM!"

We don't need new labels, such as "Nationalist" or "Globalist." What we need is a renaissance of national reconciliation.

In a recent TEDTalk, Megan Phelps-Roper addresses how we can get past all the name calling. She says, "Each one of us contributes to the communities and the cultures and the societies that we make up. The end of this spiral of rage and blame begins with one person who refuses to indulge these destructive, seductive impulses. We just have to decide that it's going to start with us."

She outlines four steps to overcoming our gridlocked discourse:

1. Don't assume bad intent. This is the key first step. As she says "We get stuck on that first wave of anger..." and the whole encounter with our neighbor spirals into rage. We have to assume that though we differ in opinion, we all want the same things: Life, Liberty, and the opportunity to pursue our individual concept of happiness.

2. Ask questions and listen

3. Stay calm. She frames the problem beautifully when she says, "I thought my righteousness justified my rudeness."

4. Make your argument for your position.

My daughter and I are fed up with all the hate and shouting. We're tired of the media only making it worse by constantly reporting on the vitriol, without offering any time to people discussing their positions in a civil manner. We decided that our small contribution was to withdraw from the brawl and write a contemplative, light-hearted, NON-POLITICAL book about how we can all learn to get along by reviving the basic values of kindness, compassion, and... cat wisdom.
drawing of a girl sitting on the floor petting her cat by David Borden from the book, Make America Purr Again.
Ruby with her cat, Charlie

For more information about our book, visit our book page for Make America Purr Again at
Book Cover
The book is available for purchase at my shop at or at

Our challenge to you: Engage one person with different views. Talk to them. Find out why they believe what they do. Don't judge. You may never convince them of your position, but over time you can build trust and be able to have rational, productive conversations about the issues.

In the end, we are all Americans who must find common solutions to our problems. No one side has "THE" answer. Get over it, and get back to being neighbors.

Good luck... to us all...

#politics #politicaldivide #politicalpolarization #polarization #conservative #liberal #MakeAmericaGreatAgain #trumpism

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