The conclusion of our discussion with Bill Bishop about The Big Sort yesterday was, naturally, What can be done about it? That is, if Americans are increasingly likely to live politically segregated lives, what should we do with the awareness?
I noted the other day Bishop's finding that the most educated people are the least likely to talk to people who disagree with them. I can certainly confirm this finding from academic life. As those of us around the table considered our various workplaces, some were in overwhelmingly Democratic shops and others in overwhelmingly Republican workplaces, but no one worked in a place with anything like an even mix.
Churches and other religious institutions are not much more likely to be politically balanced. I suspect that the more balanced they are, the less likely people are to talk politics with their co-religionists.
The main point of the book is that neighborhoods are increasingly mono-political.
One point that those of us blessed to live in lovely Danville could make to the big-city dwellers is that cross-party communication is more likely in a small town just because there aren't enough different neighborhoods and institutions to for the different parties to live in all the time.
The larger conclusion we drew was that we should go out of our way to have regular conversations with those with whom we disagree on politics. This will not only help us break out of the echo chamber. Talking to our political counterparts will, I hope and believe, help us to be more civil and gruntled.