Myth Smack: We’re Polarized

It sounds counterintuitive to say that we’re not polarized as a nation. We see each other as almost separate countries.

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There are people from every state who say they are willing to tear apart their communities and save the “good ones” from the devastation, whether that’s snarky liberals on a blog or gun-toting secessionists in the Mountain West. It seems like we can never ever agree on things, and even when we do express some consensus, we’re all suspicious of the others’ motives.

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Myth Smack: Our Votes Don’t Matter

Myth Smack: Our Votes Don’t Matter

It cannot be stressed enough: voting matters. Voting matters a lot. It’s one of the most important and central acts of our government. Citizenship cannot exist without it. And yes, while it will take other, more consistent actions to bring your worldview to full fruition, almost nothing you can try to accomplish through politics will happen without casting a ballot.

Yet the myth persists among too many people that voting doesn’t matter.

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How To: Trust A Politician

Wait, please hear me out! Trust feels precious enough that none of us really wants to spare any for politics, let alone anyone who can’t go three words without pandering. But the bad news is that our political system runs on trust, so we’ll all have to find some way to build it for the people we hire to write and manage the rules of society.

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How To: Navigate Policy (Discussions)

It’s true: the nitty gritty of the policies and programs that impact our lives are complicated as all get out. It’s a lot like trying to explain the mechanics of an entire house – plumbing, HVAC, heating, electricity, construction, foundation. Each one of those systems is its own area of expertise that a person can spend years learning and memorizing. Just like politics, the technical aspects of those are constantly changing with new information and developments, which means that to truly know what’s going on, you have to be constantly learning.

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How To: Separate Real and Fake News

Separating fact from fiction is one of the most important tasks we have as citizens. Sure, there’s the high-minded political philosophy that we must seek truth to be whole, but I’m just talking about practical terms. Frankly, if we don’t know what is actually happening day to day in our lives and in the world around us, we’re going to make some really bad decisions. Maybe it’s deciding that we can perform field operations because we’ve watched a lot of Grey’s Anatomy. Maybe it’s deciding that we should try driving stunts because it looked super cool in the most recent Fast and Furious. Or maybe it’s sending thousands of servicemembers to distant lands to die.

Fake news isn’t dangerous because we disagree with it; it’s dangerous because it changes our reactions. It keeps us from seeing problems we need to fix, and turns things that are harmless into urgent issues. Indulge in fake news, and suddenly we’re tilting at windmills and ignoring bandits and thieves.

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How To: Remember Why We Bother

Politics is a gross, messy thing, like cleaning cat litter or moving dripping garbage or doing your freshman bio fetal pig lab barehanded because you don’t have latex gloves that fit. And just like those gross, messy things, politics is necessary. You could ignore the cat litter or the garbage or the fetal pig lab, but consequences will pile up in ways that will only make the final and inevitable reckoning worse.

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How To: Define A Scandal

Who doesn’t love a political scandal? In our Age of Outrage, there’s almost nothing that we want more. Scandal comes from feet on the Resolute Desk or the Oval Office couches, from vouching for friends or appointing them to your Cabinet, from firing Deputy Attorneys General because they wouldn’t affirm your political goals, and from sexual harassment with a cigar. In fact, it almost seems like we can turn anything into a scandal, which has the disconcerting effect of making almost anything normal.

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