I don’t read Sally Kohn’s work much. She and I are diametrical opposites, ideologically speaking, and usually when I do see something she’s written, it’s eyeroll-inducing. (I’m sure she’d say the same about me if I had a recognizable byline.) Nonetheless, she posted a piece today which caught my attention not for its objectionability, but for its recognition that conservatives are people, too.
I talked about it on our show tonight, noting that, while I’m not ready to break out the peace pipe and start singing Kumbaya, I found her realization (and her acknowledgment of it) pleasantly surprising. Getting ideological opponents to see you as human and decent and…likable is no small thing. It opens up the possibility of constructive dialogue. Though it doesn’t guarantee it, it’s a damn sight more likely to lead to it than rhetorical bomb-throwing. There’s a flip side to that, as well. When you see another as an individual, rather than a label — when you recognize they’re more than just their team logo — you’re far more likely to approach them with decency, too. And, in turn, far more likely to be heard.
“Who cares?” some will think. Well, I care. Because, to put it in the simplest of terms, it comes down to hearts and minds. You can’t implement the ideals you believe are most effective/helpful/beneficial without winning elections. You can’t win elections without garnering votes. You can’t garner votes without persuading voters. You can’t persuade voters by calling them ignorant morons or hateful bigots. If your ideas derive from common sense and promote universally appealing concepts like liberty — they’ll resonate. But not if you’ve already been tuned out.
So, I applaud Ms. Kohn for her commentary today. It may just a narrow stretch of common ground we found. But it’s a start.