Talking to people I disagree with

Like you, I’ve spent the last several years feeling barely-constrained fury at the many people who express abhorrent ideas.

I’ve written investigative stories. I’ve written carefully crafted essays. I’ve yelled at people on Twitter. A lot.

And I’ve remained in the same state of shock and panicky fury that landed on me on the evening of November 8, 2016, when it became clear Trump was going to be our next president. (I was at Hillary Clinton’s “victory” party at the Javits Center, as a writer for the New Yorker. I had to write the words that she had lost and he had won; my hands started shaking so furiously I couldn’t type.)

Madder and madder and madder

At first, my fury was entirely focused on Trump, himself. But over time, I found myself even angrier at the people who were almost just like me and weren’t seeing this moment in the way I did. I found myself angry at many reporters who bent over backwards to cover Trump and his supporters as if they were somehow reasonable people with ideas worth the same deference as any other.

I became (and remain) convinced that an avalanche of bullshit issues was overwhelming our public conversation and preventing a collective response to a serious threat to our democracy. Instead of focusing on the clear danger of rising authoritarian anti-democracy, we talk about fake issues, like cancel culture, drag breakfasts, anti-wokeness, and so many other faux crises.

Can we talk?

This newsletter is an attempt at a new way.

I want to talk to the people who hold views I find to be wrong and, in many cases, dangerous.

I want to understand them.

I want to find a way to get them to understand me.

I’m not, necessarily, looking to convince anyone they are wrong. I don’t find it likely that I’ll radically change my own views.

But I do want to better understand each other’s arguments. I certainly feel that others invent fake versions of my own views in order to dismiss them. And I’m sure I do the same.

What you can expect here

So, the goal is simple.

I will talk with people whose views are wrong, at least in my opinion. I will work hard to understand their views. This doesn’t mean I will try to agree with them. I often won’t. I will also work hard to help them understand my views.

Who am I?

I’m Adam Davidson. I have been a reporter for more than 30 years, most recently at The New Yorker. Previously at The New York Times Magazine.

I was at NPR for a long time, where I co-created NPR’s Planet Money.

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Letters and other conversations across the dividing line.