Understanding America: Political Stereotypes
It can be tempting to dismiss the concerns and opinions of the people around us or to make assumptions about their motives, especially within the current political landscape. Many people have stopped talking about topics that might create discomfort due to disagreement, or even let go of connections with people they disagree with. All this can contribute to increased polarization, the reliance on information in echo chambers, and gridlock in legislative decision making. This conversation is designed to explore the assumptions and stereotypes we hold on to as well as those others might have about us. How are you navigating, being influenced by, or being impacted by current political stereotypes?
Background Information:This is the second conversation in the ‘Understanding America’ conversation pathway. We recommend you complete this conversation after completing ‘What are American Values?‘. After this conversation, finish off the pathway with Reunited States.
Let's Get Started!
Living Room Conversations offers a simple, sociable and structured way to practice communicating across differences while building understanding and relationships. Typically, 4-6 people meet in person or by video call for about 90 minutes to listen to and be heard by others on one of our nearly 100 topics. Rather than debating or convincing others, we take turns talking to share, learn, and be curious. No preparation is required, though background links with balanced views are available on some topic pages online. Anyone can host using these italicized instructions. Hosts also participate.
Why We're Here (~10 min)
Share your name, where you live, what drew you here, and if this is your first conversation.
How We'll Engage (~5 min)
These will set the tone of our conversation; participants may volunteer to take turns reading them aloud. (Click here for the full conversation agreements.)
- Be curious and listen to understand.
- Show respect and suspend judgment.
- Note any common ground as well as any differences.
- Be authentic and welcome that from others.
- Be purposeful and to the point.
- Own and guide the conversation.
What We’ll Talk About
Optional: a participant can keep track of time and gently let people know when their time has elapsed.
Getting to Know Each Other (~10 min)
Each participant can take 1-2 minutes to answer one of these questions:
- What are your hopes and concerns for your family, community and/or the country?
- What would your best friend say about who you are?
- What sense of purpose / mission / duty guides you in your life?
Political Stereotypes (~40 min)
Take ~2 minutes each to answer a question below without interruption or crosstalk. After everyone has answered, the group may take a few minutes for clarifying or follow up questions/responses. Continue exploring additional questions as time allows..
- Where do you see yourself in the political landscape? What underlying values or ethical beliefs have led you to your political beliefs?
- What assumptions have you made about others based on their politics or social media posts? What assumptions could others make about you?
- Where do you have concerns or feel dissonance with political stereotypes and/or your politics?
- Do you belong to a political party? If so, what do you wish your party would change? What are you afraid of your party changing?
- What are you curious about or wish you understood about another party or viewpoint?
- What questions do you wish people would ask you about your political ideas or values?
Reflecting on the Conversation (~15 min)
Take 2 minutes to answer one of the following questions:
- What was most meaningful / valuable to you in this Living Room Conversation?
- What learning, new understanding or common ground was found on the topic?
- How has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group?
- Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation?