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UYGUR: Now, a lot of people are under the impression that the Democrats get their ass handed to them during almost every negotiation lately with the Republicans. Honestly, I‘m among those people. If you watch this show, you know. So why does that happen? Could it be because liberals are too tolerant? That‘s an interesting theory. And it‘s one that was put forward by our next guest.
Sally Kohn is the founder and chief education officer of the Movement Vision Lab and she recently wrote about this phenomenon in “The Washington Post.” Sally, welcome.
SALLY KOHN, MOVEMENT VISION LAB: Thanks for having me.
UYGUR: It‘s great to have you. I actually want to start with one of your quotes from the article because I thought it was really interesting and then have you respond. As quote number two here on tolerance versus intolerance. You say in any given fight, tolerance is benevolent while intolerance gets in good punches. Tolerance plays by the rules while intolerance fights dirty. The result is round after round of knockouts against liberals who think they‘re high and mighty for being open-minded but who politically and ideologically are simply suckers. Now, a lot of people will find that to be tough language. Do you really think that.
KOHN: I‘ve got e-mails from most of them, yes, I know.
UYGUR: Do you think that they‘re being suckers here? And is it because they‘re being too tolerant?
KOHN: Yes. I mean, let‘s be clear. So, research going back to the 1930s shows that liberals, people who have liberal political opinions are in ridiculously more likely to be tolerant, open-minded, interested in seeking out new experiences than their conservative counterparts. Now, let‘s be clear because I know the first thing I‘ll get an e-mail on, when I‘ll get on this, I don‘t mean all liberals are tolerant. Not all of them. And I don‘t mean all conservatives.
UYGUR: No, probably intolerant.
KOHN: But this is—and I thank you for bucking the trend. But, you know, look, tolerance is a really great quality when it comes to being social at a cocktail party. But when you‘re in a political fight, particularly with a Republican Party that is increasingly extremist and intolerant, it‘s not helpful, in fact, it really does just makes you a sucker.
UYGUR: Well, I hear you on that but I feel like there‘s a difference, right? Because I fancy myself tolerant, putting the kidding aside. You know, I‘m open-minded and I‘m open to change. You know, conservatives like things as they are, they‘re not as open to change. That makes sense, I get that, right? But at the same time, I know when to draw the line. But these guys never seem to draw the line. But we were always this way, I mean, progressives were winning in the ‘70s, certainly we‘re winning in the ‘30s. And I would say ‘30s through ‘70s. What happened? What changed?
KOHN: I mean, I think that the very nature of our political opposition among other things has changed. So, you know, we‘re not having the conversation, you know, the irony is that the Democrats somehow think that they‘re at a polite Tea Party. We‘re not talking to a Republican Party that‘s interested in reasonable negotiation. You‘re literally talking to a party that wants to get rid of everything that not only the Democrats but our country has ever stood for him. And they‘re talking about getting rid of Medicare, they‘re talking about fundamental things that have lifted up the poor and the working class in our country and made opportunity available to all. This is not an opportunity we negotiate. If you even have the conversation, you‘ve already lost.
UYGUR: You know, in a sense, what it certainly tells you is that the president‘s plan of preemptive concessions is like, is done to make him seem more reasonable, but who cares, the other side doesn‘t care with you, reasonable or not.
KOHN: Well, but let‘s also be clear, part of my point in the piece that this isn‘t just Obama‘s problem, this is partly him being responsive to his base. There‘s a poll that came out a few days before.
UYGUR: That‘s right.
KOHN: The budget concession, that said in effect that Republicans wanted their partisan elected to hold their ground, even if it meant shutting down government by overwhelming majorities, whereas Democrats wanted their partisans to concede. You know, if we can‘t stand firm on our principles, how can we expect our elected officials to? We have to know where the line is.
KOHN: All right. Sally Kohn, founder of the Movement Vision Lab. Great points. Interesting. So, in the end, viewers, it‘s your fault. No, but it is a good point about the polls.