Why We Can’t Persuade Each Other

Many people insist that political discussions in the United States are ugly and pointless because we have a “cultural divide.” Supposedly the U.S. population is divided into warring tribes who will never get along. It’s the Jets versus the Sharks, and there’s bound to be a rumble:

But if that were really true, then the cultural divide would be between families. It wouldn’t be within families! What we’re seeing is more like the Generation Gap that arose in the 1960s and lingered in the 1970s:

The popular television show All in the Family reflected a lot of discussions that were going on back then. Archie and Meathead could never agree on anything, but that’s largely because they weren’t supposed to. No good dramatist ever writes any dialog in which the characters agree with each other! Who wants to watch people sitting around agreeing with each other?
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