Like Minded

There's an excellent topic on NPR's "Talk of the Nation" right now -- and I can't help thinking of this blog as I listen.

Bishop's thesis seems to be that by choosing to surround ourselves with only like-minded people, we are creating greater division within the larger communities that embrace these "like-minded" neighborhoods.

People who surround themselves with others who think pretty much the same way, whether conservatives or liberals, become less interested in understanding the other's perspective, become less interested in broadening their horizons, and thus less tolerant of those with whom they disagree.

I wish I'd written this book!


Perhaps this is true of some

People who surround themselves with others who think pretty much the same way, whether conservatives or liberals, become less interested in understanding the other's perspective, become less interested in broadening their horizons, and thus less tolerant of those with whom they disagree.

I don't know a lot of people who surround themselves with insular thinking. I read a dozen wide-ranging blogs every day, and another dozen sources of longer-form writing. I'm usually searching for divergent thoughts related to education, social justice, general philosophy, climate change, and media effects on adolescents. It makes for a busy day and usually makes me more interested in others' perspectives.

Some perspectives, though, prove to be short on insight once you dig beneath the surface. Free-market extremism, for example, is especially bereft of value after you get past the promise of profit and privatization. That's why I rarely visit the Puppetshow after reading it dutifully for more than a year.

I hear ya James

And I don't doubt you for a moment. I don't know what the "Puppetshow" is, but I, too, like to visit blogs that are run by people I think of as "rightwing," and talk to people with whom I have strong idealogical differences.

But I have had the experience of being in the midst of people who think one way in particular and are not at all interested in exposing themselves to different perspectives. In particular, I spent a great deal of my post-graduate education surrounded by very right wing conservatives. Fortunately, the purpose of this particular grouping was educational, so whether they wanted to or not, all kinds of topics from different perspectives were up for discussion. I learned a lot from that experience because I was the odd man out. I would say I learned more from those years than I did in all my years of education preceding. In college, the nature of my classes was liberal, so there were a lot of liberal-leaning folk in there -- give or take the occasional fundie. It wasn't nearly as interesting as being surrounded by the opposition.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing
-Edmund Burke

And the Irony Wheel rolls on.

You do realize that being allowed to post a diary insulting this blog pretty much makes your implied insult false, right?

I just don't get it, Bru. I may be viewing this with a jaundiced eye, but I can't (for the life of me) see this as anything other than an attempt to piss people like me off. And it worked.


I consider this a gift, an opportunity to be my best self, to be one with the irony. Getting pissed off just feeds a destructive fire. It's really not worth the trouble.

Try laughing. You'll feel better.

Thank you!

I appreciate your taking this in the spirit it was intended -- which was genuinely to point out something I think is worth noting. It wasn't to "piss off" anybody (Steve), but I sure can't stop someone from continually deciding to put the worst possible interpretation on everything I write.

C'mon, Steve, is there no other way possible to interpret the post than as an insult? If not, WHY NOT? It's your choice, and I think it's one you really ought to consider.

I do appreciate -- very much -- that James chose NOT to take it that way. And truly, the "ommmmm" reaction is not far off the right attitude.

Geez, Steve, your point seems to be that because this is a blog where free opinions are able to be expressed, I shouldn't express one!

Are you seriously suggesting that you see no merit in Bishop's point?

Or think of it this way -- what if -- just for the sake of argument -- what if there had been no fur flying or any to-do with me and certain hosts over any issues -- ever. Would you then interpret my post the same way? Probably not, which means that you're probably always going to choose to put the worst construction on my posts that you can.

I'm asking you not to do that. It's unnecessary and it's certainly not warranted.

Seriously, you are misreading.

There was nothing in that comment that was meant to insult this blog. I think you really are viewing it with a jaundiced eyes, and I can assure you I'm as tired of your paranoid attitude as you are of the one you're accusing me of having.

I don't think it was an insult.

and of course she was "allowed" to post it.

If it pissed you off, perhaps you need to broaden your horizons a bit.

People do tend to flock together with like minded people, that's why in the 4th of July parade, I was with the Democrats. Marching in front of us were the Scotch Rifleman's association - with a big ass Confederate Flag. You know, for heritage. I don't hang out with those guys, I hang with the Dems. I like hanging with the Dems, because they reinforce my point of view.

But if I could get over my fear - yeah, with them it was fear - I might learn something about myself if I went and asked those "Heritage" guys why they carry the stars and bars, and who their people where.

Look past the perceived insult (I don't see it.) Honestly. And just take it for what it's worth. It's worth something. The fact that it ticked you off tells me its worth something.

Can we, instead, start talking about "for the good of North Carolina?" --Leslie H.
Pointing at Naked Emperors

James Carville once said:

Political programs on cable are like lamp posts for drunks. They aren't there for illumination but rather for support. Sometimes I get the same feeling from blogs.

I'm a moderate Democrat.


And Carville would know!

Can we, instead, start talking about "for the good of North Carolina?" --Leslie H.
Pointing at Naked Emperors

I get it now:

you meant that because BlueNC is not full of people huddling together in a like-minded fashion, with the lack of tolerance and shrinking horizons and such, that you couldn't help but think about this blog while listening.

My bad.

No, that's not what I meant, Steve.

I thought of this blog because it's a forum for sharing political and social observations. I thought of this blog becaue the very topic that was covered on that program has been discussed ON THIS BLOG.

Yes, it was your bad. And yes, you owe me an apology.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing
-Edmund Burke


Some of you may have seen this on last night's "THE DAILY SHOW," which is being rerun now --

Anyway, this author, Bill Bishop is still touting this book about how we are in the process of self-segregating based on socio-political issues.

He's referring, by way of example, to the appeal Dubya had -- people thinking he was "our kind of guy." He is saying communities over the past thirty years are becoming more insular, whether with this party or that one, and that this increasing insularity is polarizing the country.

WHOOPS -- segment over already.

Well, the conversation wasn't quite as in depth on the Daily show as it was on NPR a while back, but it's still a very interesting thesis.

Links purty please?

This is an interesting idea, especially to a compulsive Virgo like me who spends way to much time mulling through categories.

Jesus Swept, this December

Here you go

Even though I generally avoid reading anything remotely educational, I might just have to read this:

But the Big Sort has not been simply a difference of political opinion. The communities of interest — and the growing economic disparities among regions — won't disappear with a change in Congress or a new president. Moreover, it's wishful thinking to predict that a Generation Y LBJ will emerge to become a twenty-first-century "man of the earth," some kind of web-based "deus ex MySpace" politician who could forge a national consensus out of our disparate communities. Presidential candidates and op-ed writers often lament the lack of leaders, as if entire generations of Americans were born without the skills of a Johnson, a Franklin D. Roosevelt, or a Dwight D. Eisenhower. There are, of course, just as many leaders as there have always been. What the country is missing is old-fashioned followers. The generations that emerged in the second half of the twentieth century lost trust in every vestige of hierarchical authority, from the edicts of Catholic bishops to the degrees of Free Masons to the stature of federal representatives. There haven't been any new LBJs because the whole notion of leadership has changed — and the whole shape of democracy is changing.

That last part is spot on. Voters these days are like thrice-divorced blind-daters, with a whole list of "no-no's" that will keep us from falling in like with a candidate.

Thanks Steve!

I didn't even know about that site.

It's odd to reconcile the general idea of us self-segretating into like-minded neighborhoods on one hand, and yet on the other becoming more entrenched in particulars. I wonder whether the latter trend isn't more isolated than the publicity generated by organized efforts (groups likes PUMA) might suggest.

I have a hunch

that most of us would swing more towards the center if it weren't for some of these particulars, which the parties (and the media) focus so much attention on.

I had a conversation with my son some time back about how I believe the really influential people in each party aren't working for a majority, they're working for as close to 50/50 as they can get, so they can keep campaign contributions rolling in. I think he asked me if my tinfoil hat was comfortable. ;/

If I read you correctly,

You're saying, are you not, that fundraisers need to keep the message as bland as possible to avoid alienating contributors? I'm not entirely certain what your 50/50 reference means, but my assumption is that you mean that the less targeted the message put out by the fundraiser, the more likely he/she is to gain contributions from as wide an arena as possible.

But maybe another way of saying the same thing *sounds* completely different -- which is that the fundraiser would actually hone the message down to something very specific but which is guaranteed to pull together all these disparate interests. This strategy would require the sacrifice of any other points that might not be shared by as wide a group.

Is this what you mean? I think that since the job of the fundraiser is to get that money in, this is not an unreasonable strategy. Ask that son of yours what the sky looks like through them rose-colored glasses!

I'm actually talking about balance

(in sheer voter numbers) between the two parties, at least on a national level. Look how close the last two Presidential races have been, you know? It's almost like a sporting event: if one team is way better than another and is very likely to win, people don't watch in great numbers.

If a political race is whopsided (70/30), there is no fear or hope of changing the outcome, so donations to each candidate are slim.

As long as the R's & D's are split so evenly, the money flows in.