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November 6, 2008

52to48 update

very nice to get a shout from the National Review on this project - was worried that only lefties were looking. Am being inundated by quite a bit of hate mail at the moment, but also have gotten quite a number of constructive and heartfelt comments. i didn't say it would be easy...

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Comments (26)

Nice sentiments but I'd have appreciated them more if they had happened during the last 8 years of Chimpy McHitler Rethuglicans. You're right, it's not going to be easy. The left spent the last 8 years calling me names and exuding condescending moral superiority the likes I've never seen. And now that you've won it sure appears you're afraid of it coming back to bite you. Until you convince me that's not true and that you're sincere, you'll pardon me if I neither trust nor believe you. It's easier to throw rocks than it is to lead, isn't it?

By the way, does this qualify as "hate mail"?

(From Ze: No - This isn't hate mail. Not even close. As for the last eight years - there has been intense divisiveness from both sides - and the name calling fringes were able to dominate the conversation. i think that should change)

Posted by: rrr at November 7, 2008 12:26 AM

I've seen two photos from 48s so far that have left an impression on me:
this one gets it
this one don't
Please keep the divisive messages out of this project.

Posted by: Paul at November 7, 2008 12:29 AM

I think it's a great project! Keep it up!

Posted by: Duncan at November 7, 2008 12:44 AM

Ze, thank you so much for taking this on.

My initial reaction to this idea was gung-ho, tralala, peace-love, it's-all-gooood, hippie-ENTHUSIASM, but after reading some of the early negative responses, and now the complete comment thread from the original post....I dunno.

(From Ze: but please remember that these are just *some* people's reaction)

While I feel hurt and sad that people would misunderstand (willingly or unwillingly) the spirit of the 52to48 idea, on a personal level I recognize the anger and the fear in some of those comments. That's EXACTLY how I felt in 2004. I do fully acknowledge that it SUCKS to be in the "48", and that the safety I feel now, the safety that is allowing me to approach a project like this with an open mind, is almost entirely because I am now a member of the "52".

The problem with this mass "52" to "48" thing is that there is too much opportunity for the spirit of the project to be derailed by broad generalization. In the comments thread there were so many instances where it appeared that people were literally addressing the other side as "YOU". "Where were YOU when x happened?" "This is easy for YOU, your guy just got elected." "Maybe if YOU hadn't been doing x for the last eight years." In many ways this type of broad generalization seems to be at the heart of the problem. For this reason, I don't think that "52" and "48" can work. It just looks too much like "US" and "THEM". It also enrages those who are the most wounded because it appears to trivialize the depth of their feeling.

I think the only way things can really change is if we find a way to address "me" and "you". I keep wishing there was some type of "match making" service. A place I could go to meet someone who feels as wounded as I do, but who also feels as motivated as I do to raise the level of discourse.There no doubt in my mind that I could communicate effectively and respectfully with anyone who shares my desire to do so. I don't think I can effectively communicate with "48" and I'm not comfortable being addressed as "52".

We have to make this personal.

Again, thank you Ze. I think you are very brave to do this.

(From Ze: I agree - the generalization doesn't help - but it was intended in the reverse - making the generalization personal - images of actual people)

Posted by: Kate at November 7, 2008 1:15 AM

Nice shout! Hate mail?! That does not compute! Maybe we could do an antithesis project out of the gnarly little items you're receivig - balance the polarity, redirect the emotion, y'know, like a social neurolinguistic programming project. It's sort of what you're already doing with the 52to48 but on a different scale.

I'm still meditating on what to say to the republicans on 52to48, but I have a feeling it's coming soon.

Love is stronger than the other stuff.

Lots of Love,

Posted by: jeano at November 7, 2008 1:40 AM

I really don't know why someone would send you hate mail for this. I think it's an amazing idea.

Posted by: kelly g at November 7, 2008 2:17 AM

I am really glad for the opportunity to have participated. I'm sorry that people are sending you hate mail.

<3 <--- that's a heart for some heart mail.

Posted by: Lolli at November 7, 2008 3:07 AM

ze - thanks - sincerely. one of the best ever.

Posted by: Alice at November 7, 2008 4:51 AM

I came over from NRO. I think the idea was great -and as part of the 48 I appreciate the sentimient.

Posted by: JoeP at November 7, 2008 4:56 AM

I think more people should pay attention to how witty neo-cons respond to this sort of attempt at heartfelt and sincere reconciliation. When you think they're just puppy-kicking blackhearts, remember they're humans who tell the same jokes in the men's room you do:

"RE: From 52 to 48 With Love [Mark Hemingway]

Judging by the torrent of email, my post below seems to have struck a nerve. By linking to such a shiny happy display, I wasn't suggesting anyone immediately make peace with an Obama administration. Especially since most liberal attempts at reconciliation during the Bush years amounted to "Oh, hey — would you mind picking up the soap?" As one reader put it, "I'm more inclined to dress my wounds, restring my bow, and plan my counterattack than I am to hold hands and sing Kumbaya."

Fair enough. But I do think that after eight years of "He's not my President" bumper stickers and trying to put Karl Rove under citizens' arrest for his role in unconstitutional mattress tag removal, it's probably necessary that we be the adults here. And that includes acknowledging when overtures are made to make things less rancorous.

Obviously, that doesn't mean you surrender your principles. The moment Obama takes office and he tries to do anything such as implement his welfare-as-tax-cuts scheme, destroy the private health insurance market, pass card check legislation, confiscate your 401k etc., I fully expect to unleash hell.

None of these things have happened yet, however. And there's no reason to adopt the left's Alinsky tactics. We can be better than that."

Posted by: Farris at November 7, 2008 10:25 AM

I believe the intent is good and the final outcome of what the 52to48 movement is trying to accomplish will be positive. My only complaint is what about the outrageous stuff said on the left over the last eight years?? "Bush is not my president?" "Fxxk Middle America" "Abort the Right"....I think it may take more than just a few nice comments to bridge the chasm of damage that the OUTRAGEOUS disrespect caused over the last 8 years. As a conservative, I will honor Obama and the office of President, but it is a bit over the top that some of the same people who espoused and endorsed hatred now want peace. Perhaps an apology would be appropriate if they want don't want the "48" to play by the same disrespectful rules they played by over the last 8 years.

Posted by: dbinmn at November 7, 2008 10:35 AM

Ze, I'm one of the 48. Love the site, love the concept, and am trying to use it to help bridge a friendship that was lost during the last 8 yrs. I wonder, though, how sincere it is when you were just a couple days ago wearing the "Who's the decider now" shirt? I know you're getting linked over from NRO now, though... how about trying to organize some sort of joint venture?

Posted by: Idris_Arslanian at November 7, 2008 10:57 AM

I think when we are most honest with ourselves as individual Americans, we have all felt wounded by anger and sadness during the last few years. I also think many of us have experienced situations where we could have been friendlier or listened more closely to the individual we did not agree with. Blaming each other or the generalized "you people" is not helpful in terms of in terms of a reconciliation project. Often, I think the extremes of our nation have been given far too big of a voice when in reality the majority of us want to get along. For that reason especially, I appreciate you setting this up Ze. In times like these we need these discussions, we need to know there are kind and rational voices out there, and most importantly, we all certainly need to be these examples to others in our everyday lives.

Cheers & Good Things,


Posted by: Dan at November 7, 2008 11:07 AM


From one of the 48, thanks for this. I'm an old master sergeant with 23 years on active duty, still in uniform. I voted for McCain, as did most other GIs and their families, because he saved our honor in Iraq by giving us the support we needed for victory. Because of him, the deaths and sacrifice of my brothers and sisters are not in vain, and the people of Iraq will not be cast into the darkness.

But it has been so hard to watch the division and hatred among my beloved American people. I don't know if it can be easily healed, but this is a step in the right direction.

All of us in uniform, from the loftiest generals and admirals in the Pentagon to the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines in the field, will proudly salute and support our new Commander-in-Chief, President Barack Obama. We will obey his orders, and put our lives on the line for his policies.

It is your job, as the American people, to come together to ensure that the policies he espouses, and the orders he gives, are good ones. And thanks to all of you, 52 or 48, for showing the world on Tuesday why America is so wonderful, a shining city on a hill worthy of any sacrifice.

Posted by: Tim at November 7, 2008 11:48 AM

I think it's a damn shame that people would get hateful and snarky about a project designed to promote peace and positive dialogue to end the arguing.

That being said, I'm not surprised. People are mean, and sometimes I think they like it best being enemies. If you have an enemy, you always have someone to blame, instead of having to take the initiative to fix what you can.

I like peace better. Keep with it, Ze. I think it's an awesome project, and I know the pros will outweigh the cons. I think if you keep only the messages that promote peace instead of the ones that focus on the hurtful messages of the past, it will be better. We're never going to completely agree, and we shouldn't -- but focusing on what we have in common and what we can do to heal our nation will maybe show those who are still too angry to participate that there is common ground for those ready to go there.

Posted by: Rebecca at November 7, 2008 12:01 PM

Ze - superb idea and I thank you for it.

As a 48, I have these requests to make of 48's and 52's.

48's: If you're frightened about the future, as I am, try to remain positive. Give our new president-elect - and his supporters - the benefit of the doubt. Do not give up your ideals and beliefs, but be respectful at the same time.

52's: For years, I've listened to insults against GWB, about how Republicans and conservatives are selfish, stupid, greedy, ignorant and racist.

We are not.

Please try to remember that most of us ultimately want the same goals as you do: good schools, safe neighborhoods, a fair judicial system, a nation not under attack, our rights as Americans protected, and so on. We disagree as to how to get there - but - we want to get "there", just the same.

So. We will do our best to support our new administration. In the same vein, do try to be respectful of us and our differences. Just as you are good people - so are we.

Posted by: Peg at November 7, 2008 12:03 PM

Hey Ze,

I just friended you on Facebook because this very notion has been bopping around in my head. I wanted to start a Facebook group with this very ideal, but could only come up with the much less concise "Obama supporters committed to respectful conversation" as a title. So, I decided to let it simmer for a while, and lo and behold, you've come through again! Like I asked you in my friend message, can you create a Facebook group for this? Or can I? Or if you don't want me to create a group specifically on this project, can I link to it from my soon-to-be-created less-concisely-titled group? :)

Posted by: Eleonore at November 7, 2008 12:10 PM

I was surprised how many 48s wrote to 52s. That's classy.

Posted by: alan at November 7, 2008 12:11 PM

In general I'm pretty a-political. Sure I have my pet views and I, no doubt what some might call a liberal, but I'm not really a "party member." I am, therefore, a little confused when one partisan starts crying foul claiming that "you said bad things about my guy! Therefore I will 'walk away'" (Someone stated that directly in the other comments.) Do those who favored Bush think the negativity started against him? What about the Clinton years? What about the rabid mockery of Al Gore (or as Rush Limbaugh liked to call him for reasons unknown "Algore.") I recall a lot of divisiveness during the Clinton years. Bush Sr. didn't fare much better, although he was popular up until the economy went to pot.

Much of this seems to be a revisit from the 60s, but, funny enough, most of the vitriol then was aimed at LBJ. (Nixon, to be fair, bore the brunt of it as well.)

Then again, I know oldsters (over 80) who get all riled up over FDR and how he "destroyed this country." I'm sure that someone would be happy to tell you what a rat bastard Grover Cleavland was, if there were anyone alive from that time.

What I am getting at is that political rancor seems to go with the territory, but that doesn't mean we can't change it, and it doesn't mean that we can't get along. This project is a move to do that. In other words, people can hold all the grudges they want, but I'm not going pay much attention to the vitriol any more. Civility can return to our political process. A good place to start is by refusing to listen to the talking heads on both sides of the aisle who just make a buck off of rousing people's ire.

Posted by: Theorris at November 7, 2008 12:26 PM

My sympathies for the hate mail. As a Nader supporter I know all too well what it’s like to feel such animosity only more so from the left. Most memorable in this past election was being invited to speak at a mock debate representing candidate Ralph Nader.

I arrived with his platform in hand by what seemed to be a very even minded teacher, however, the moment I was announced as representing Mr. Nader the boos were monumental, the sound literally went right though me. Surprisingly, that wasn’t the most disturbing part of this event. The debate took place in a public school and the representative for the Obama campaign came in, introduced herself, began professing her love for Obama, gave the students tons of really nice Obama swag, then left, she didn’t even stay for the debate. I’ve argued with some harden republicans in the past over international and social issues and even the Bush Administration, there have been a few very high minded, rude and a couple with perceptions that were devoid of any reason, but nothing compared to what happen at that debate.

So if some republicans can’t see the sentiments behind your good efforts I sorta kinda understand and you’re absolutely right when you say it’s not going to be easy.

Posted by: nader at November 7, 2008 1:13 PM

Good luck and best wishes. Forget the hate mail. I got here from a place that is hating on the site, so even that can be turned to advantage.

Thankfully, this is America. We will not take an eye for an eye until we're all blind. It is time, now, to put it all down, and face the future together. I for one will judge the 52s by their works, and so far the signs are positive, this site included.

Posted by: Texas48 at November 7, 2008 2:11 PM

Ugh, Ze -- sorry to hear about the hate mail. Love to you, and props for putting this out there. Whether it's considered "syrupy" or misguided or whether it's embraced for its obvious generosity, you're to be commended for standing up to do it.

And sorry that anyone on EITHER side of the political coin feels as though he or she is the only one who has suffered--either during the tough, divisive campaign or during the long, long, last few years prior to it.

Believe me, it's just as condescending to be told you "drank the Obama Kool-ade" as it is to be told that your conservative beliefs are outmoded. Is either true, really? No. Not for most of us.

I don't get the practical purpose of cynicism on either side. It doesn't fix anything. I don't get how people get hung up on one or two issues that divide us and overlook the hundreds of beliefs we share.

Most of all, I don't get how healthy dissent, one of the founding premises of our nation, turned into something dark and threatening--to EITHER side. Fear is never positive, and it is never active. Why cling to it?

I understand that the "48" feels a bit disempowered this week, but I've found that the best experiences in life are ones that put me on the other side of my usual status quo. Coming to some understanding of the fact that the entire nation does not share one uniform set of beliefs can only help to broaden our empathy and to move the country back to a place where we all feel free to exist and thrive.

At least one can hope!

Posted by: Lorin at November 7, 2008 2:38 PM

A lot of the people who are saying stuff along the lines of "where were these people that didnt stand behind the president the last 8 years..." do not understand the point of this project. This is not about supporting a president. It is about respecting both sides. Both sides are guilty of unfairly hating the other. The left called the right "war mongers" compared them to hitler, etc... While the right did not hesitate to call those on the left terrorist sympathizers, anti-american, un-patriotic, etc...
People, no one is telling you to not criticize Obama when he is president. This is about respectful dissent. And for those on the left, this is about not bragging, because having your guy as president is not all that has to be achieved, and both sides with be needed to accomplish anything.

Posted by: Felipe at November 7, 2008 2:40 PM

@Sgt Tim - we salute you. :) Thanks so much for representing us with your service. I hope that in the future any battle we fight (God forbid) is one we fight together, with support at home and abroad. It seems our next president is already prepared to ask us what WE can do for our country. And we are prepared to do whatever that is. Many of us want to serve, but in a different way. For too long it has only been the folks in uniform doing the work. I think if we all serve, all get involved in some capacity, we will all be a lot more interested in what is asked of us and what direction we're going in.

Posted by: steph at November 7, 2008 3:15 PM

Someone Said: "...I recognize the anger and the fear in some of those comments. That's EXACTLY how I felt in 2004. I do fully acknowledge that it SUCKS to be in the "48", and that the safety I feel now, the safety that is allowing me to approach a project like this with an open mind, is almost entirely because I am now a member of the "52"."

This person gets it completely wrong. I'm not angry about being a 48. This is what democracy is about. My side lost. Sometimes that happens. I didn't try hard enough, my arguments weren't good enough, the other side did a better job. But see, I can admit that. I'm not angry about it, and I'm certainly not scared.

The point is that in 2004, the losing side WAS angry (and obnoxious and hateful and condescending and disdainful.) Remember "Sorry, Everybody" apologozing for how dumb, stupid and ignorant their idiot countrymen were? I just went back and read those posts, and holy crap they were nasty. As one of those idiots, why on earth should I look at the other side now with anything other than that same disdain? I think you guys made a mistake of monumental proportions on Tuesday, that we will be regretting for decades. Why should I pretend otherwise, when you guys were so so SO willing to tell me (in the crudest, most hate-filled, vitriolic rhetoric you could muster) how mistaken you thought I was 4 years ago?

I really don't mean this to be hate mail, and I hope you don't consider it such. But it's really hard for me to swallow the fact that you guys are supposed to be the party of "tolerance" and you spilled that kind of venom 4 years ago. Now that you've won, *I* am supposed to be the bigger, better person and let bygones be bygones? It's a pretty tall order, I'll tell you what. And when I throw down and fight tooth and nail against tax increases and the Fairness Doctrine and the ending of secret ballots for unions and the institution of socialized medicine and gun bans and everything else I hold dear, tell me something. Will dissent still be "patriotic?"

Posted by: Maureen at November 7, 2008 3:22 PM

I'll see their hate mail and raise them a double batch of warm fuzzies.

Some people will need time. Meanwhile, just keep being you.

Posted by: Paperotta at November 7, 2008 4:14 PM