The Gist

The Delicate Art of Political Persuasion

Robb Willer on how to reframe debates in a way the “other side” will understand.

Constituents show their disagreement with GOP Rep. Leonard Lance during a town hall meeting in Branchburg, New Jersey, on Feb. 22.

Bill Clark/Getty Images

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A big problem with political arguments, says Robb Willer, is that everyone sees himself or herself as the hero in a zombie movie. “American liberals see themselves as Brad Pitt warding off a zombie horde,” says Willer. “But the problem is conservatives see themselves the same way,” and no one is able to make arguments that appeal to the other side. Willer teaches sociology at Stanford and writes about the delicate art of political persuasion for places such as the New York Times.

In the Spiel, please Mr. President, don’t throw the special prosecutor into the briar patch.

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