In the aftermath of the United States presidential election, bitter partisan divides have resulted in protests, hate crimes, riots, and other forms of strife across the country. Within the political system, polarization has had a serious effect: the most partisan members of the public are less likely to support compromise, and are more likely to have a disproportionate impact on electoral politics (e.g. primaries). Calls for unity and healing expect people to instantly look beyond months, even years, of deeply adversarial political discourse which frames the “other” as fundamentally different.
How can we have better and more productive conversations about politics that don’t seek to attack and defend, but to understand? In contrast to the extreme, winner-take-all nature of political discourse in the US, our friends at the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation (NCDD) define these concepts as follows:
“Dialogue is not about winning an argument or coming to an agreement, but about understanding and learning. Dialogue dispels stereotypes, builds trust and enables people to be open to perspectives that are very different from their own. Dialogue can, and often does, lead to both personal and collaborative action. Deliberation is a closely related process with a different emphasis. Deliberation emphasizes the importance of examining options and trade-offs to make better decisions.”