I really believe this article is a valuable read for everyone with an interest in politics.
I recommend reading the whole thing with full context, but I'll bold italic some of the portions that I think are the most important and which resonated with me the most.
...We’ve been fractured politically for years now, but 2016 feels so polarized that we might as well be living in two different Americas.
But...the problems that plague white rural conservatives might not be so different from what worries African Americans. Many lament a system that’s unfair, discriminatory and one where the American Dream is out of reach.
As the tea party rose to political prominence at the end of the last decade, a liberal Berkeley sociology professor set out to understand why the white working class, once a strong voting bloc for Democrats, had embraced anti-establishment ideas that put them further to the right of even the mainstream Republican Party...
...What Hochschild discovered...is that neither side makes an effort to understand the other, but especially progressives, she said. Without understanding, there can’t be empathy. Without empathy, it’s nearly impossible to explore common ground.
Q: What were your preconceived stereotypes or expectations before you first visited Louisiana for this book in 2011?
Hochschild: What I expected was a self-centered people, but I found people who were nothing like that, quite the opposite. They were openhearted, they were communal. They were very eager to be known. They’d say, ‘Thanks for coming. We’re the flyover state, people don’t care about us, they don’t know who we are. They think we’re racist and homophobic and sexist and fat.’ There was a gratitude toward me, and I would tell them exactly who I was: ‘I think I live in a political bubble, and I’m trying to get out of mine and into yours. Will you talk to me? In some of them you sensed loss and a sense of being invisible and unappreciated and insulted. That liberals just think they’re rednecks. Here were people, some who had worked very hard, half were college-educated, and they just felt put down, and they felt a drifting downward in their economic circumstance, but didn’t hear anyone listening to them about their distress. They felt like a minority group.
Q: Do you think they had preconceived notions about you, too?
You could see brows knit up. One woman said I was her first Democratic friend. I met another woman who said, ‘I love Rush Limbaugh,’ and I said, ‘I would love to talk to you about that.’ It came out that when she was listening to him she liked that he was defending her against criticisms from liberals. That reversed the picture [of him] to me from accuser to defender. There is tremendous power to open up a cultural space for respectfulness. I was out fishing with a man, and there we were, and he says to me, ‘You know, I think our leaders are trying to divide us. If we just get together, we’ll find much more in common than we think there is.’ I found a bridge in our ways of thinking that I never would have discovered without laying down an emotional carpet that we could tread, of trust that we’re not going to be disparaged.
Q: But there is a segment of Trump supporters who have expressed racist, sexist and/or xenophobic beliefs, like the man who yelled, “Jew-S-A,” at the press at a rally. If you feel threatened by that, how do you also feel empathetic?
Start with the world’s finest mediators — Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi. Explore the history of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the extraordinary history of victims understanding their victimizers. And then you say, ‘I’ve seen myself and my “side” as a victim, and now let’s see how they might feel that way, too.’ It doesn’t mean you’re ceding ground, it just means you’re seeing more possibilities in that person than if you saw them as a hopeless villain.
Q: So the onus is on progressives? Is there a responsibility for conservatives to reach out too?
It goes both ways but I think liberals bear the bigger responsibility, and the bigger interest, if they want to understand why the democratic party has lost so many blue collar white voters.
People here like to point out how "white males" generally support Trump despite his many documented character flaws because white males are sexist, racist, bigots, and seem completely blind to the fact that Clinton and groups that tend to be Clinton's strongest supporters have been scapegoating #YesAllWhiteMen, the vast majority of whom are decent people, as villains for years.
I can go to any thread in this forum with more than a dozen comments and find examples comments dehumanizing groups of people - usually Trump supporters, sometimes just men, sometimes all Americans. I am genuinely convinced that there are active posters here who literally believe that 40% of the American population would support concentration camps. There are people here who actually think the typical Trump supporter is evil.
One poster in particular has repeatedly wished me ill because I disagree with their belief that Clinton will win the election on the 8th and they believe that must mean I support Trump, and therefore deserve to suffer. I don't really care who wins. I find the discussion and analysis stimulating and fascinating, but I have no emotional investment in seeing either candidate succeed. I think Trump will win, and I know it's not what the polls say. I've argued why I believe the polls are wrong on numerous occasions. Maybe I'm wrong. But I don't go around telling people who actually are emotionally invested how miserable they're going to be on November 9th when their candidate loses. If I believed the narrative, which I don't, then I'd think that's something you would expect from...Trump supporters.
The most distressing part of all of this is the fact that this whole situation is so obviously manufactured by the political parties themselves. Imagine for a moment that 2016 followed the script. Trump wasn't supposed to run, anti-establishment Cruz was supposed to lose to establishment Bush, Kasich, or Rubio (in that order of preference). Does anyone here for a minute honestly believe that if the election had gone according to plan and was Clinton vs. Bush that we'd be having the global discussion about establishment collusion, money in politics, and the abuse of power by the political elite that we're having today? Clinton and Bush would have sparred over distractions and everyone would have been too busy cheering on their team to realize that Clinton and Bush are the same candidate in any way that would affect regular people's day to day lives.
Republicans think Democrats are stupid, Democrats think Republicans are evil, and both groups ignore the fact that they are being played against each other while the establishment wins. "Brother killing brother for the profit of another. Game point; nobody wins."
For a space that is supposed to be for "the rest of us," there is an astonishing amount of attacks directed at the other half of "the rest of us." Every person on this board has more in common with the typical Trump supporter than they do with either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Remember that.