Recommended Resources for Learning About Politics


"The Idea of America": Important Discussion Topics

An educational website that has a "Summary of the Great Debate and Value Tensions"

  • unity vs. diversity: one nation with a variety of cultures, ethnicities, and religions
  • private wealth vs. common wealth: our labor and skills earn us individual resources, but we also pool resources for the common good
  • law vs. ethics: we value rule of law, at the same time recognizing sometimes a law is unjust
  • freedom vs. equality: total freedom allows some to trample rights and impose inequality, while total equality inhibits individual rights

from page 3 of a literacy activity 

Respectful Writers

It is important to draw attention to thinkers who are taking on cultural and political hot topics intelligently and without demonizing some other position than their own. This is just a start.

  • As a sociologist, Brene Brown has done ground-breaking work. She defies categorization, having grown up some in rural Texas and some in New Orleans. She has spoken often to the military, championing them in her writings, while making a case for a more tolerant compassionate approach to relationships.
  • As a medical doctor, Scott Alexander blogs about medicine but also about politics "from a vaguely centrist point of view with occasional forays to the right or left." He digs deep into political theory from as balanced a perspective as can be found. (to get to the part that matches the title, go to section V.)
  • David Brooks, a New York Times Op-Ed columnist, described as center-right, writes about politics, culture, and the social sciences. He is executive director of the Aspen Institute with a mission "to spearhead a bold new project aimed at bridging the differences that divide Americans and seeking out a compelling common ground."
  • Jordan Peterson on podcast #1208 explains the positive guidance young white males are looking for,  ethics of the right, and the upside of hierarchy and competition. Culturally he has been linked to the alt right. The discussion is a respectful one.

Support for Centrist Views & Independent Candidates

Julian Zelizer on Polarization and U.S. History: Half Hour of Heterodoxy podcast #48 

This podcast discusses the long-standing duopoly and propose three election reforms:

  • non-partisan single-ballot primaries with the top 4 advancing (current system favors the most extreme partisans)
  • ranked-choice voting (candidates have to appeal to a larger pool of voters and prevents “spoiler” argument)
  • non-partisan redistricting (end gerrymandering)

#356 from Freakonomics Radio

More on election reform

Syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker  declared herself an independent and stated “it’s time to denounce the harsh partisans who feed on polarization. It’s time to give independents a voice.”  She received the Pulitzer Prize for her political and moral commentary.

Support for Bipartisan Cooperation and Dialog