For four years, Diane Hessan has been in weekly conversation with voters across the United States. What she has learned will surprise you, enlighten you, give you hope, and change the way you think about your fellow Americans. Our inability to hear each other, our suspicion, and our impatience is stressing us out and tearing us apart. To gain insight into how we can move forward, Hessan undertook a massive listening project, conducting an ongoing series of weekly interviews with 500 voters from every state, of every age and ethnicity, and along different points of the political spectrum. The topics ranged from race to guns, from character to party politics, from masks to rallies, from the Supreme Court to the pandemic to immigration and climate change. After more than a million individual communications, two things became clear:
We have more common ground than we realize. Yet we are, sadly, failing at understanding each other. On issue after issue, our “divided” nation isn’t nearly as polarized as we imagine. An overwhelming majority of voters believe in common-sense gun licensing and regulation. They are pro-immigration. They believe climate change is real and the coronavirus is deadly. They care deeply about their families and are willing to work hard to make ends meet. And, they believe that Washington is slow, bureaucratic, and not working in their best interests.
In dozens of columns on these topics published in the Boston Globe, Hessan has upended common political wisdom. Presented together for the first time as part of this book, they reveal a unique perspective on how Americans actually think, what they value, and how we can move forward. The path to healing our divided nation is both simple and profound. We must turn down the heat. We must begin to listen, to stop presuming, to try to understand, to treat each other with dignity, and to know that most Americans are not crazy radicals. We truly share common ground. If we can pull together, we can have a much better America.