If liberals want to politically persuade conservatives, we need to keep our emotional correctness in check

Sally Kohn, Emotional Correctness in PoliticsSean Everett’s “Fox News, Ann Coulter, and the Outrage Machine” touched upon the backlash we are now experiencing in society. Instead of a news program that presents the news in an objective way, we are bombarded with a series of op-eds. Roughly Every 60 minutes a new talking head gives us their take on a given political story. They usually do so by being more outrageous or more hateful than the opposing side. What results is supporters of that side pick up sound bites and use them to justify name-calling rants.

We are starting to see how the “outrage machine,” as Sean so aptly put it, is playing out in the everyday world. People are no longer listening to each other. Or they listen just long enough to grab hold of certain key phrases. Truth be damned. Hate and anger now rule the day. The problem with all of the shouting is that no one is listening. The problem with no one listening is that we no longer have compassion toward opposing views.

It is this failure to listen to each other that should scare the living daylights out of us. Because it is in that void that humanity gets lost. That void is like a black hole in space where light and sound is lost. That void also creates misguided fools like the ones we saw last week at the “Battle of Bunkerville” or the fools who form groups like “ALEC.”

We need to reverse the “outrage machine.” But how? One idea that is picking up steam is “emotional correctness.” It is the brain child of Sally Kohn, a liberal pundit at Fox News. As she puts it, “You can’t get anyone to agree with you unless they listen to you first.” The challenge is to “find the compassion for others that we want others to have for us.” 

I could not agree more. Not too long ago I realized that all of my information came from liberal sources. I read the New York Times, listen to NPR and watch Rachel Maddow. I refuse to listen to Fox News or Rush Limbaugh. As a result I am being told how to think about it by the liberal media, rather than forming my own opinions. But it is the diluted, cherry-picked, interpretation of it and that is where it gets dangerous.

We, on the liberal side, see this happen all of the time with the right’s interpretation of our views. Or the mangling of the constitution by Tea Party groups, who know parts of the second and tenth amendments, yet struggle to understand equal protection and due process. How we respond to these people is key. As liberals, we have a tendency to be self-righteous, condescending and dismissive. As Sally Kohn points out; “Political persuasion doesn’t begin with ideas or facts or data. It begins with being emotionally correct.”

I think we should all challenge each other to start a conversation instead of a fire. For example, look for the motivation behind why someone is so passionate about an issue. Understanding of the “why” will help all us to find emotional compassion. I suspect that in the current climate of outrage some of us may not even know the “why.” I am not saying that we can fix the current outrage, but maybe we can start to turn down the volume and listening.


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