Strong opinions, weakly held

Yes, liberals and conservatives do still talk to each other

Here’s a paragraph written by Patrick Pexton, the ombudsman for the Washington Post:

Liberals and conservatives don’t talk to each other much anymore; they exist in parallel online universes, only crossing over to grab some explosive anti-matter from the other side to stoke the rage in their own blogosphere.

I am repeating it only because I am sick of seeing this assertion made repeatedly without challenge. The idea that conservatives and liberals don’t talk to one another any more is false. I am obviously liberal, but my blog has conservative readers and commenters. I see liberal bloggers debating conservative bloggers all the time. And I have plenty of conservative friends who I correspond with on Twitter, via email, and in real life who I argue about politics with.

I’m just sick of the laziness inherent in this analysis. All it really proves is that the writer doesn’t actually participate in conversations online.


  1. Maybe he meant liberal and conservative /politicians/ don’t talk to each other any more? 🙂

  2. Back in 2003, I created the site watchblog.com to overcome the increasing issue of tunnelvision and uncivilized debate happening on all sides of the political spectrum.

    We’ve somehow slipped into a culture of disrespect and name-calling when it comes to political debate. I’m not pointing fingers or trying to assign blame but I feel that the explosion of right-wing talk radio and the tabloidization of the news has contributed directly to the increasing polarization of the electorate.

    There are operatives from all political parties who are surreptitiously degrading any conversation in politics that attempts to be civil. They do this with name-calling, talking points, misinformation and propaganda — all the while refusing to acknowledge that their opinions, viewpoints and beliefs may be open to debate.

    This is what I think has destroyed politics in America and has led to the political stalemate we’ve been in for the past 10 years. It’s impossible to make progress as a country when neither side of the political spectrum will allow any progress whatsoever.

  3. Agreed. And you’ve got readers who are sick of about half of the conservative agenda and about half of the liberal perspective.

  4. Without a doubt, gerrymandering at the state level has led to increasing polarization. Most politicians will not attend a rally or town-hall meeting unless it’s stacked with their partisans. They don’t want or need votes from their political opponents.

    Our election system drives folks to frustration, apathy and barring that, hyper-partisanship. I am frustrated by my state and federal representatives because I have never had a chance to choose them. They are all very liberal and short of moving, that isn’t going to change. I live in districts that were created to be safe by Democrats in 2000. The only people that will ever hold those seats are very partisan Democrats.

    This allows them free reign with ridiculous rhetoric because who cares if they piss off all the Republicans in their district? After all, those are only 25% of their citizens.

    To me, the rhetoric and lack of any real debate/compromise is not a root problem, it is a symptom of a rotten electoral system. Fix the system and I think you’d see a better result, both in our capital(s) and in our neighbors.

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