A Question of Respect: An important book for 2023
A Question of Respect: Bringing Us Together in a Deeply Divided Nation was published earlier this year. The need to address toxic popular and political culture is being recognized by people across the political spectrum. Ed Goeas and Celinda Lake are pollsters and strategists that have worked together to create joint Battleground Polls for more than thirty years. Ed is a Republican and Celinda is a Democrat.
One thing I love about their book is they not only work together to better understand public sentiment, they also really like each other. They disagree about many things and still respect and trust each other. They make a very strong argument that we’d be a more successful nation and happier by far if we learned how to make this a more common occurrence.
Ed was born and raised in a Democratic military family. Celinda was born and raised in a Republican ranch family. They both changed parties at the same age in the same year, 1972. They believe that their roots taught them respect for the other side. Celinda reflected, “We both learned from our parents that you grant every human being respect. That is the starting point.”
Due to their work, Celinda and Ed have a unique and particularly well informed perspective on the polarizing dynamics our nation is experiencing. Their shared conclusion that there are things we can do and should do now personally, as well as structurally, is being echoed widely in our society. Research confirms that high levels of trust are a key element of successful communities while also showing that most people are deeply unhappy with our current political dynamics. Celinda and Ed suggest that young people may be the most clear eyed of all about the need for change… and are ready to take on the job.
This said, as they interact with young people in focus groups and classes, they are finding a fundamental challenge in the lessons regarding shared respect they learned growing up. Many young people now have a different view on respect. Rather than granting it to others, they believe, "I'll show respect if shown respect first."
The bridging movement has work to do. Last year books such as Monica Guzman’s I Never Thought of it That Way and Amanda Ripley’s High Conflict helped lift up and amplify the message that we need to find ways to be in healthy relationships with people that we may disagree with on various issues. A Question of Respectcomes from very different origins and gives us another powerful tool to work with in bridging our divides.
“We don’t always agree but we are firmly committed to hearing each other out, offering solutions, and respecting each other.”
Thank you to both Celinda and Ed for being valuable spokespeople for Trust and Respect!
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