Karen McKim

Karen McKim
August 30
I have conservative values: I want to conserve things like our traditions of self-government, liberty, justice, religious freedom, voting rights, Medicare and Social Security, good public schools, clean air and water, sustainable management of our national resources, and safe communities. Because I do not want to sacrifice those things to increase the profits and power of international banks and oil companies, most would call me a liberal. Also blogging at karenmckim.wordpress.com

Karen McKim's Links



The Progressive magazine's Matt Rothschild recently visited Fort Atkinson to poll its residents about Tuesday's recall election. Fort Atkinson is a town of about 13,000 between Madison and Milwaukee. Its biggest employer is health care; its crown jewel is the Fireside Dinner Theater , wh… Read full post »

I was fascinated by the speech patterns of a fellow bed-and-breakfast guest this past week. A certified Master Gardener from Minnesota, he was visiting Wisconsin with his wife and another couple to see a few noted gardens and attend a plant auction in a nearby Amish community.

As my husband… Read full post »

MARCH 24, 2012 9:56PM

The loyalty of liberals

As the civic life of America dissolves into partisanship and dysfunction, I cannot think of anything more worthy of study than Americans’ civic values.

Jonathon Haidt’s recently released book, The Righteous Mind, Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion, is worth reading for… Read full post »

It's been said that Democrats have a harder time articulating their values than Republicans do. The Obama Administration's response to the Trayvon Martin killing is, I think, an excellent example of a characteristically gray Democratic response. Obama has, as yet, said nothing. His press secretary sa… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
MARCH 11, 2012 4:46PM

Spring in Wisconsin: The things we do with friends

On February 14, 2011, after word had spread about the surprises in Governor Walker’s draconian budget, I went to Wisconsin's Capitol square by myself to see what was going on. Over the next few weeks, I went many times again, always alone, to participate in the growing protests. I didn’t… Read full post »

Although I am trying (within reason) to keep this blog circling around the topic of interpersonal political communication, the post below focuses on a single, specific issue. I originally wrote it as a response to a post by OS blogger Jonathan Wolfman, who had asked whether there was a difference betRead full post »

I had taken a poisonous viper from the zoo and inexplicably brought it home. It was darting around, hiding under the bed, then the dresser. It bit me once and did not inject enough venom to hurt. But it was sure to bite again and harm me or someone else if… Read full post »

FEBRUARY 14, 2012 4:26PM

Data entry for a ton of democracy

I spent last Friday afternoon feeling the weight of democracy in my hands. The voice of the people was handed to me in half-inch-thick stacks of 50 petitions demanding the recall of our governor. Approximately 50,000 hours of data entry are needed for the more than a million signatures turned in… Read full post »

FEBRUARY 5, 2012 11:58PM

Useful insincerity

The first steps in conflict-resolving communication often involve disguising or feigning certain emotions—that is, insincerity.  None of the experts (at least in the methods I’ve studied so far) explicitly uses the term 'insincere,’ but that’s the way it feels before you&… Read full post »

These are the books and other resources I've found helpful so far in learning about interpersonal political communication. I intend to update and add to this list as my study progresses.

Please let me know, in the comments section, about any other books or resources you can recommend.

Political messRead full post »

My nephew, a soldier who identifies as a devout Christian, was posting pro-war messages on Facebook. His words and photos revealed that he was eagerly anticipating the joy of seeing action and engaging in camaraderie with his buddies during their Excellent Adventure in Iraq.

At around the same time… Read full post »

DECEMBER 28, 2011 10:53PM

Small progress is still progress

A single exchange of political speech with family or friends rarely creates a sudden, major change of heart for either participant. However, a single exchange can have a small effect and might lay the groundwork for later movement.

One of my younger sisters commemorated Memorial Day 2010 with a Face… Read full post »

“Forty states have passed voter-suppression laws since the 2008 elections, but yours in Wisconsin are the worst,” Sandy told us—nothing we didn’t already know. Representing Organizing for America (OFA, Obama’s campaign), she was giving a presentation to a Sunday afternoo… Read full post »

I had stopped by the Occupy encampment in Madison, Wisconsin several times in the past few weeks to participate in a march or to drop off sidewalk chalk or a donation. I had not until Saturday night participated in a General Assembly. I’m going to continue to donate chalk and ten-dollar… Read full post »

OCTOBER 23, 2011 4:56PM

Why I am not a Democrat

I first heard the term ‘tipping point’ several years ago when I saw a science professor stand a book upright and tap it lightly. It rocked and returned to its upright position. This illustrated equilibrium, he said. Then with a tap not visibly harder, the book teetered and fell. He had… Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 23, 2011 6:45PM

Tidbit: The value of questioning

I'm continuing to read in interpersonal communication, in an effort to pull together 'how-to' for use in talking politics with our fellow citizens--particularly those who are in the sway of the corporate infotainment industry.

I had read about the value of questioning in persuasive communication, wh… Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 14, 2011 3:17PM

"Most stupidity isn't really stupidity."

“Well YOU were the one who brought it up!” My lunchtime conversational partner was irritated by my request that he define “government-run health care,” which he opposed.

"No," I said, "I didn't bring it up. I am genuinely unaware of any proposals for anything I would call 'g… Read full post »

This post contains few of my own words. Today in my quest to learn the skills of interpersonal political communication, I’m reading Parker Palmer’s  Healing the Heart of Democracy (2011), and I felt the need to share some good passages, which cannot much be improved by my comments. I… Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 11, 2011 3:29PM

Antagonism? You think?

Synchronicity strikes again. In recent weeks, I’ve felt a growing determination to discover how we can talk politics to friends and family who do not share our views. Separately, I’d signed up for a church discussion group about Karen Armstrong’s Twelve Steps to a Compassionate LifeRead full post »

“If you’ve been to jail for freedom, then you’re a friend of mine,” hundreds of voices sang in unison. Ben Manski, organizer of last month’s Democracy Convention, introduced speaker after speaker by noting how many times he or she had been arrested.

I share Pete Seege… Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 5, 2011 9:37PM

The Night the Rain Came In

When I felt the water soaking through my socks that drizzly Saturday afternoon, my first thought was that it couldn’t be a spill. No one had been in the kitchen since breakfast. My husband was away on a football weekend, my daughter at summer camp. My son and I had… Read full post »

This puzzling "devotion" was shared with me on Facebook. This UCC minister must have jet lag from the trip she describes, because UCC folks are not normally that crabby.

She writes that she dreads people who tell her they are spiritual but not religious; "Such a person… Read full post »

AUGUST 29, 2011 11:31PM

The Right Material for the Job

I was lost in thought, fretting about my job, on what should have been a relaxing Easter afternoon at my in-laws’ tidy home. A comment from my father-in-law about something he read in his father’s diary from the early 1900s  jerked me back into the after-brunch conversation.

Read full post »

AUGUST 27, 2011 7:33PM

Waiting for my mother to die

Today my body contains no muscle or blood. I can feel nothing but still air inside my skin. The tears come in single file, no more than one each minute. I want this stillness. I want to be so still that I halt time, make all things stop right now. I… Read full post »

The last coherent thing my mom said to me, as she slipped away into Alzheimer's, was "I hope I die soon." She said it repeatedly for a period. That was eight years ago.

A few years before that, she was a gracious woman, living a gracious life. Donating to children's charities,… Read full post »