A Road Scholar Program by Ted Williams III
Are we hopelessly destined for a future of political combat in which Americans are unable to even hear the other side? What if bringing us a little closer was as simple as changing the political language we use?
The current American political climate is notoriously full of acrimony and vitriol. Research suggests that the partisan division in the U. S. electorate is widening as Americans increasingly segregate by class, geography, and ideology.
From issues of race to the role of government, language plays a significant role in fueling political division. For the sake of simplicity and expediency, we often reduce controversial conversations to sound bites, hashtags, and the language of marketing campaigns. Terms like conservative and liberal, black and white, pro-choice and pro-life, gun control, and illegal immigrant all are loaded with a set of definitions and often erroneous assumptions that drive intense emotion. For example, the word “black”, by definition, means evil, and wicked. The word “white”, by definition, means pure and innocent. When these terms are ascribed to human beings, why would they not evoke feelings about character, superiority, or the perceived threat or guilt of groups of people? Here are a few questions to be considered…
- If a person is pro-gun control, are they against the second amendment?
- If someone is pro-choice are they necessarily for abortion?
- Does being for the “dreamers” mean that one is against national borders
- What does support for the #blacklivesmatter movement say about their position towards other ethnic groups?
- Are people rigidly and consistently either conservative or liberal?
This presentation is designed to change the way we discuss politics. As former candidate for public office and someone who has spent a career having difficult conversations around the topics of religion and politics, Ted has had a plethora of experiences navigating these dangerous waters.