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BAPB* No. 11: Not as bad as you think, missing persons, and football

*Bouncing Around Paul's Brain

We don't know what those we disagree with are thinking, but it's not as bad as we'd guess.

I'm still digesting it, but strongly recommend reading the Defusing the History Wars: Finding Common Ground in Teaching America's National History, a new report from More in Common. The report uses surveys, interviews and in-depth analysis to address this key research question: How do your opinions on teaching US history compare to what those who vote the other way expect from you? It finds a huge gap between perception and reality. Contrary to the views of Republicans, Democrats don't hate America or its history. Contrary to the views of Democrats, Republicans don't want to only teach great man and White history, they want kids to understand the triumphs and tragedies of our country. One surprising but encouraging finding, at least for me, is that the differences in opinion are not defined by race, but by ideology, particularly the extremes on both end of the scale.

In a gigantic flashing warning sign for Democrats, independents generally agree with Republicans that Democrats are extreme, while independents have a somewhat more charitable take on Republicans than Democrats doi. You can also check your own perceptions with the Perception Gap Quiz. I don't align with either party but was surprised at how far my perceptions of both differed from their own views.

The report emphasizes how much Republicans and Democrats agree about teaching American history. We agree that we've had amazing accomplishments and made serious mistakes, that traditional history is important and that we can celebrate historical figures and our fundamental documents. We agree that we should teach children about the wrongs of the past without holding them personally responsible.

Yet we still hate each other. Three-fourths of Democrats describe Republicans as brainwashed, hateful, racist, and arrogant. Republican views of Democrats are similar, though they are less likely to see their opposites as racist.

I'm not going to dive any further into implications and ways we can address the perception gap for now, but Amanda Ripley's column in the Washington Post is a good start on how to think about this important topic.

Missing Persons Report

One result of Sen. Raphael Warnock's (D-Georgia) re-election is that Vice President Kamala Harris will disappear from the news for the next two years. For the last two years her name as only appeared next to the words "tie-breaking vote in the Senate." Now that Senate Democrats have a vote to spare, she'll sink back into the obscurity of the world's weirdest job. She won't be the first former Senator to be disappeared by a President.

College football prediction

Last week's predictions were back to the fair (6 of 10 winners picked correctly) and the dismal (3 of 10 games predicted correctly against the line). This week it's all or nothing, with just the Army-Navy game on the schedule. It's the only one I watch all year, because it is the only proximation we have to college football, as opposed to the cynical media event we get on most Saturdays. Navy is a 2.5-point favorite, but I like Army to win it. It will be close and make you feel better about America either way. If you ever get a chance to attend a service academy game, I can strongly recommend.

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