Photo by Jodi Barnes

If We Can Agree on One Thing: We’re Tired

Shaming and blaming are draining. They only gain us wider divides.

Jodi Barnes, PhD
5 min readJan 30, 2020


Pretend we could put politics aside. (I know, just stay with me here.) Is it possible that Americans agree on anything?

I think so. Even in a country that agrees we are living in an era of extreme political polarization, so extreme that the political has become personal. So extreme that more people are displeased by the thought that their child would marry someone of a different political party than of a different religion.

Some research suggests that it’s not the political polarization as much as our squabbling.

It might just be that most people really don’t like politics. Americans are open to people with all sorts of political and partisan opinions, our research shows — as long as they keep those opinions to themselves. — Klar, Krupnikov & Ryan, (2019), NYT Opinion

As usual, there’s more to the (research) story. The pollsters added questions about frequency and impact on social gatherings: How often a new son/daughter-in-law whose politics were a sharp left or right of theirs talked about politics.

If their future in-law would rarely discuss politics, fewer than 30 percent said that they would be unhappy with an in-law from the opposing party. If, on the other hand, the hypothetical in-law would never shut up about politics — they would interrupt social gatherings and holidays with the latest dirt from MSNBC or from Fox — more than 40 percent of people would be unhappy with the marriage.

This is especially true for almost two-thirds of Americans who do not strongly identify with a party.

Among this majority,

fewer than 20 percent said they would be unhappy with an in-law from the opposing party who rarely discussed politics. When, instead, their child’s chosen partner was a talkative member of the opposing party, this number doubled to 40 percent.



Jodi Barnes, PhD

Writer and Collaborator-in-Chief of where small acts of writing, art and conversation create multicultural connections for good.