Aspen Ideas Festival: 'Listening to America'

Panelists take questions at the Aspen Ideas Festival.
From left to right: Charlie Sykes, Melissa Block, James Fallows, and Joshua Johnson discussed the best ways to "Listen to America" during the Aspen Ideas Festival.
Ian Wagreich | Aspen Ideas Festival

Joshua Johnson hosts the daily call-in program 1A, out of Washington D.C.

If anyone knows about the political dialogue in America right now, it's him.

"There's so much polarization and yelling and screaming," Johnson said at the Aspen Ideas Festival.

That's why he invited three other journalists to join him on stage to discuss dealing with difficult dialogues.

James Fallows has traveled the country, talking to members of communities with economic problems.

His central message is that looking at local politics is much more effective than focuses on national issues coming out of D.C.

There, he said, you'll find "much more constructive, practical-minded ... future orientated discourse."

His work has made it's way into The Atlantic and Marketplace.

Melissa Block is an NPR news host who also spent some time traveling around the country talking to community leaders.

"On of the through lines, people are much more complicated than we might otherwise believe," said Block.

Her series, titled "Our Land," can be found here.

Charlie Sykes is a conservative commentator and a former host of Indivisible, a national talk show that attempted to bridge the political divide.

Sykes was dubbed the "Lord of Darkness" by Johnson for his pessimistic outlook on civil discourse.

"All the trends in lack of civility are going to get worse," said Sykes.

Sykes, Block, Fallows and Johnson took audience questions about how to ensure that political conversations are productive and courteous.

To hear the full discussion use the audio player above.

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