It seems only news that enhances polarization is covered. American news is networked. When one TV station, radio station, newspaper, or blog cover an issue that incites an emotional reaction, it goes viral. Virality means eyeballs and notoriety. That is the reason Fox News is so successful. It is the reason CNN is attempting to follow many of Fox News’ shallow reporting and news coverage. Who can forget a week of following the disabled ship while real news on the sequester and its ramifications thereof were ignored.
Huffington Post Live did an interview recently that went virtually unnoticed that should really send chills through the bodies of every politician and their moneyed interests. The co-founder of the liberal political group MoveOn.org, Joan Blades, and the co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, Mark Meckler, teamed up to found Living Room Conversations. Their goal is to make this project one that seeks to foster civil discourse that is "respectful, constructive, collaborative, solution focused and conducive to empowering healthy communities." They are attempting something that Coffee Party USA has been doing with various degrees of success for some time.
Joan wrote a blog post at Huffington Post that had just two comments titled “A Living Room Conversation to Reinstate Glass-Steagall“ describing the first meeting with Meckler. It’s ironic, had it been “MoveOn.org’s co-founder Blades rips into Tea Party Patriot’s Meckler on SOMETHING”, one wonders how much coverage it would have gotten then.
This is a real story. Neither one of these very different people are attempting to change each other’s core beliefs or values. No one wants to stifle the other one from expressing themselves as long as they are honest and factual. Their attempt is to foment conversation.
Joan writes in her blog post.
Talking to Mark on the phone over the last couple of years I’ve learned that I really like Mark personally and that we have remarkably different views on many political issues. Our intent for this first conversation was to focus on identifying opportunities to work together because as our friend Ralph Benko, who introduced us, points out that "when we get to know each other we get to like each other and when we discover how much we like each other… solutions start to come easy and problems start to melt away of their own accord."
Mark arrived at my door wearing his signature cowboy hat, big belt buckle and warm smile. But that was not all, he brought delicious baked goods made by his wife Patty and two friends to join our conversation. Once we’d introduced my friends and Mark’s friends and made sure everyone had what they needed, I apologized to Joe, the reporter from the SF Chronicle, for our plan to ignore him completely and we began our conversation.
The conversation was enthusiastic, lively and primarily focused on all the common ground we saw as well as revealing many issues we would like to talk more about. Right or left, none of us are comfortable with the degree of influence that big corporations have on government regulation. I tried to keep track of the issues we would like to have future conversations about as well as areas where we would like to find ways to support change.
These types of engagements are what many politicians fear. These types of engagements are what the owners of our mainstream media fear. When politicians say “the American people want” or “the American people need”, rarely are they talking about the American people. They never listen to the American people. Does Paul Ryan’s or for that matter President Obama’s policies mirror most of what America wants? Do Americans want austerity? Do Americans want a balance approach that if one reads between the lines is nothing but austerity lite? No. America wants to end the wealth and income disparity they are just starting to become aware of. It is all over the polls when the questions are analyzed.
On a personal note, many times I write hard hitting blogs that many believe are too left leaning. Yesterday, I had a long conversation with the head of a group I will be speaking to. He looked at the headline of a couple of my posts and was taken aback. After-all, inasmuch as the group was a moderate group here in Texas, he was concerned about sensibilities. After going over the posts, he realized that the posts while hard hitting were factual. He did teach me something. He taught me that depending on the audience, I must be more verbose in addressing the sensibility of those that are open to the factual hits if the door would be opened a bit more slowly (in the same blog piece).