Hans Zeiger in Law & Liberty: “In Search of Civility”
JMC president Hans Zeiger reviews Mónica Guzmán’s I Never Thought of It That Way:
In King County, Washington, 74 percent of voters cast a ballot for Hillary Clinton in 2016. In Sherman County, Oregon, 74 percent voted for Donald Trump. After discovering this, Seattle-based journalist Mónica Guzmán connected with the publisher of an e-newsletter in Sherman County. Together, they decided to organize what they dubbed “Melting Mountains: An Urban-Rural Gathering.” King County voters rode a bus down to Sherman County on a mission to ask questions.
During their gathering, Sherman County residents and King County residents engaged one another in a series of structured conversations, starting with the question, “What’s your favorite childhood memory?”—a question borrowed from author and social entrepreneur Michael Hebb and intended to ensure that participants “saw a person before they saw an opponent,” according to Guzmán. The result of this experiment was not just constructive conversation—but meaningful friendship.
It also served as an inspiration to Guzmán as she wrote her book I Never Thought of It That Way: How to Have Fearlessly Curious Conversations in Dangerously Divided Times, published in 2022.
Guzmán offers a needed exploration of how we might relate better to one another in a society that is increasingly polarized, siloed, and sorted. In a time when public discourse takes the form of “Ranting to our people, who get it, while raging at those people, who don’t,” Guzmán holds on to the “conviction…that the barriers between us are lower than we think.”…
Hans Zeiger is the president of the Jack Miller Center and comes to the organization with a background in state and local elected service, and has written and spoken extensively on topics related to American history and civics. Hans previously spent a decade in the Washington State legislature, including service as chair of the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee and ranking member on the House Higher Education Committee. He gained a reputation as a bipartisan collaborator, being named by the National Institute for Civil Discourse as co-recipient of the Gabrielle Giffords Award for Civility in State Governance in 2015. Following his legislative service, Hans was a member of the County Council for Pierce County, Washington State’s second largest county.
Hans led the Chapman Center for Citizen Leadership at the Seattle-based Discovery Institute from 2012 to 2020. He was an adjunct professor of political science at Seattle Pacific University. He was also a Leadership Fellow of the Henry M. Jackson Foundation and a Rodel Fellow of the Aspen Institute.
He previously served as a public affairs officer in the Washington Air National Guard. He deployed in support of Operation ALLIES WELCOME, taking part in the resettlement of Afghan refugees in 2021.
Hans holds a bachelor’s degree from Hillsdale College and a master’s in public policy from Pepperdine University. He also studied American politics at Claremont Graduate University.
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