It’s not you, it’s me

A new look, rethinking our relationship to politics, and 5 links worth your time  

If you’re one of our loyal readers, you may have noticed that we have a new logo, a new website, and our branding has changed from “Civil Squared, a project of the Center for the Study of Liberty” to just “Civil Squared.” Why the name Civil Squared? Well, when civil discourse is multiplied exponentially that is when the most effective solutions to our country’s challenges can emerge. So, we’re on a mission to equip and inspire one civil conversation at a time! If you’re one of our new readers, welcome! We’re so glad you’re here. If you like what you see, please share this newsletter and recommend that others sign up, too! 

If you’re a Seinfeld fan (or unlucky at relationships), our headline will ring a bell (but check out our second link below, if not). George Costanza—the most morally bankrupt of all the morally bankrupt characters on Seinfeld—claims to have invented this “routine” in order to avoid having to be honest when he breaks up with women. In this episode, while sitting across the table from his girlfriend at his favorite diner, he gets dumped, and when he wonders why, she tells him, “It’s not you, it’s me.”  

George forgets all about the end of the relationship and becomes obsessed with the fact that someone else is using his line. 

It might be time to say “goodbye” 

I recently talked with Professor Chris Freiman about his new book, Why It’s Ok to Ignore Politics. That might seem like exactly the wrong book to discuss in the days before a big election, but I’m pretty sure we all need it. 

Like George Costanza, when it comes to politics, we’re getting pretty good at being self-centered and, consequently, not treating the person on the opposite side of the table with respect. Dr. Freiman asks us to consider whether we want to prolong our unhappy relationship with politics.  

Our political self-righteousness and self-indulgence is doing damage to our connections with other people. As Dr.Freiman puts it, if you watched a television show that encouraged you to think people who disagreed with you were “stupid” and not fully evolved and that our country would be better off if they died, you’d have a moral obligation to stop watching it.  

That’s exactly what’s happening in the United States, yet we’re not turning off the show. Many of us are wallowing in our own outrage and turning up the volume instead. 

A healthier relationship

This week, our five links include articles to help us examine our unhealthy relationship with politics.  We’ve also got an episode of EconTalk with our upcoming Civil Squared Live guest, Russ Roberts, on our “uncivil agreement.” I hope you’ll find something that interests you, and I also encourage you to consider the possibility that, when it comes to our political behavior, George Constanza might be right: “It’s not you, it’s me.”  

5 links worth your time

  1. Civil Squared Live: A Conversation with EconTalk’s Russ Roberts – On Thursday, October 29th at 12:30 EDT, Civil Squared Live is back with a real-time, virtual conversation with Stanford University’s Russ Roberts, host of the popular EconTalk podcast. We’ll ask Russ to share the best things he’s learned from his interviews about what curious individuals can do to improve our lives and communities. Bring your questions because Dr. Roberts is ready to answer them! This event is held in partnership with our friends at The Library of Economics and Liberty. All are welcome, but advance registration is required.
  2. It’s Not You, It’s Me, Merriam-Webster Words at Play – In case you’re wondering about the history of this “much reviled, often-used excuse,” Merriam-Webster has everything you need to know. It is not, in fact, the “oldest line in the book,” and you can watch the Seinfeld clip here, too.
  3. Political Ignorance Is Bliss, Reason – Our guest on the Civil Squared Podcast this week, Professor Chris Freiman of William & Mary, takes a hard look at how politics makes us treat one another. He suggests that “paying less attention to politics” will be “better for you, your relationships, and society,” and now might be a really good time to make a few changes. 
  4. Reading Too Much Political News Is Bad for Your Well-Being, The Atlantic – Arthur Brooks warns us of the dangers of “reading and sharing political outrage” and “using every opportunity to fulminate about politics.” We may become “less happy, less well-liked, less accurate, and less informed.”  
  5. Lilliana Mason on Uncivil Agreement, EconTalk – Our upcoming Civil Squared Live guest Russ Roberts interviews political scientist Lilliana Mason (University of Maryland). Mason’s book raises the concern that “our partisan commitments are beginning to swallow up the rest of our identities.” 

Photo by Deagreez on Adobe Stock