Book Forum

The Three Languages of Politics

September 23, 2019 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM EDT

Hayek Auditorium, Cato Institute

Featuring the author Arnold Kling; in conversation with Russ Roberts, John and Jean De Nault Research Fellow, Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, and Podcast Host, EconTalk.

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When it was first released in 2013, Arnold Kling’s The Three Languages of Politics was a prescient exploration of political communication, detailing the “three tribal coalitions” that make up America’s political landscape. Progressives, conservatives, and libertarians, he argued, are “like tribes speaking different languages. As a result, political discussions do not lead to agreement. Instead, most political commentary serves to increase polarization.”


Now in its third edition, with new commentary on political psychology and communication in the Trump era, Kling’s book could not be any timelier, as Americans — whether as media pundits or conversing at a party — talk past one another with even greater volume, heat, and disinterest in contrary opinions. The Three Languages of Politics is an accessible, precise, and insightful guide to how to lower the barriers coarsening our politics. Kling offers a way to see through our rhetorical blinders so that we can incorporate new perspectives, nuances, and thinking into the important issues we share and must resolve together.