How to Escape a Partisan Echo Chamber

We all know by now that our President’s vision of an America (esp. Washington, D.C.) that has risen above endless partisan bickering has failed to materialize.  Recently, at a commencement speech at the University of Michigan, he blamed partisan echo chambers — forums wherein Americans only hear what they already believe, but more so.

Despite what his enemies say about him, Obama is clearly serious about listening to the other side of whatever issue he’s considering – enough to regularly infuriate liberal partisans like Paul Krugman.

More recently, after former Bush speechwriter David Frum lost his job for criticizing Republican intransigence in the health care debate, conservative thinkers have started to debate whether their side is stuck in its own echo chamber (something critics of Fox News would consider a belated, feeble admission.)  More to the point, some conservatives feel the echo chamber confinement is starting to really hurt their cause.

William Saletan of Slate, then, offers for both sides something a mini-handbook for keeping one’s ideological blinders off.  In a nut-shell, it’s a ten-step program:

1. Treat insularity as a weakness.
2. Don’t be a sucker for conspiracy theories.
3. Never define yourself by an enemy.
4. Don’t outsource your beliefs to your allies.
5. Seek wisdom, not just victory.
6. Distrust polarization.
7. Look in the mirror.
8. Beware abstraction.
9. Test your theories.
10. Overcome your urges.

The whole post elaborates and is well worth reading.

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