I enjoyed the ideas of this book but I didn’t particularly enjoy reading it. This was an extremely technical academic book with a lot of academia wording. I am not going to do the usual review of Hearing the Other Side. I’ll be honest, it feels too much like homework to do a normal review, and I’m just not in the mood to do it. Instead here are some things I learned while reading Hearing the Other Side:
1. Deliberative democracy(talking to the opposition frequently about politics) has gone down. Politics used to be something talked at dinner tables but has become something that is shunned to talk about in mixed parties.
2. The more money, higher education, and less minority you are, the more likely you will surround yourself with like minded individuals and you will only hear the political viewpoints from that side. Minorities, less educated, and the lower on the economic scale you are the more likely you will interact with people of opposing political views.
3. Your job is the most likely place you will interact with people of different political affiliations but the desire to talk about it is extremely low because the risk of talking politics at work is more important than actually talking about them.
4. Within social networks there is a strong desire not to talk about politics because we value our social interactions higher than our political ideas.
5. For many individuals that come in contact with a lot of differing political opinions in their social networks, the idea of talking about politics and choosing a side is a high point of anxiety. They would rather either not vote or wait until the last minute to vote. They also devalue the political process in general to try to not be forced into taking a side.
6. The more avoidant a person is, the less they will be involved in the political process and speak their political minds.
7. A perfect deliberative democracy is impossible. We can’t have close relationships with people we frequently disagree with. We want political disagreements that have no repercussions for people’s personal relationships and this just doesn’t exist.
8. The only way that we remove the chance of repercussions on people’s personal relationships when it comes to politics is to either devalue politics or only have conversations between like minded individuals. Neither one of these things are ideal for a democracy. As polarization between opposing political views has become more important to the every day American, they have chosen to devalue relationships with opposing political members.
I think of everything in this book that I read, the idea that political anxiety for people caught between social networks of opposing view points is what spoke to me the most. I feel this almost on a constant basis. I have friends that are incredibly liberal but I have family members that are conservative. I belong to a conservative church but I have some liberal ideas. All of this has caused me to devalue politics in general.
I also believe that we are at a point in American politics where we are devaluing friendships with opposing political members instead of accepting the differences as just differences and not us vs them. Also, the idea that the other side are the “bad guys” and we are the “good guys” is highly frightening because this is the type of mentality before violence becomes a solution.
Anyway, I liked Hearing the Other Side. I got more of a better understanding of why I feel about politics the way that I do and why others take it as seriously as they do. I can now look at individuals and see their social network being the major reason why they have the opinions that they do. I can also see how the anonymity and the ease of confrontation that the internet allows, to see why politics on the internet seem so much more hostile than in person.