Communicating progressive ideas to a resistant audience is an interesting thing to ponder. 

One on one, with someone I love, I must do a better job of listening. Asking. Being patient. Remembering that this conversation is one of many more I intend to have with this person, and I don’t have to “accomplish” anything in this one conversation except to listen and learn. Maybe, over time, this person will be ready to listen to me. And I will have had time to put more of my heart into fewer words. When we are all ready to listen to each other and learn, we will be able to move forward together in a civilized way.

In fact, I am not sure that I should do anything different one on one, even if talking with someone I don’t love, with whom I may never have another conversation in my life. Listen and learn. After all, if shouting at people on social media doesn’t change minds, why would that approach work face to face?

But nearly every other occasion seems ripe for shouting, for raising our voices as loud as we need to be heard. I’m dismayed by the toothless, ineffective, and uninspiring game of liberal establishment politics I’ve seen played on my behalf since 2000 or so. While citizen activists like us are volunteering, canvassing, organizing, and otherwise showing up, I expect those who represent me to figure out how to win the game at their level. And whether that game is called confrontation politics or obstructionist politics or resistance or progressiveness or whatever, I want my elected officials to play to win, or get out.

(These thoughts are loosely inspired by this essay on civility in a new presidential era.)