Liberals, take heart: the antidote to the Trump Hotel cocktail hour will be springing up in early 2018, only blocks away. The Eaton Workshop is branded as a progressive, Resistance-type clubhouse (but inclusive, provided you’re liberal), catering to the needs of far-left activists, journalists, and changemakers. Eaton’s lobby will be decorated with memorabilia of the two most recent elections, aimed to dig at the question of how we got into this whole political mess.
Eaton, which will have 209 rooms, is the first of its kind in Washington D.C. A second location is supposed to open in Hong Kong in mid-2018, and locations in San Francisco and Seattle are expected to follow. Bloomberg calls it “a hotel with an agenda,” and mentions that “the brand will weave a liberal philosophy into every aspect of the guest experience, some more obvious than others.”
The hotel will host fireside chats, a free lecture series, a writer’s residency, and windows displaying rotating art exhibitions. It will include activism kits and allow guests to use amenities such as co-working rooms and holistic wellness treatments (like Reiki). A radio station and music venue will also be present, if all goes according to plan.
Eaton sounds like a figment of an NPR listener’s dreams, provided they replace bedside-table Bibles with copies of Mother Jones or Hillbilly Elegy (for those who want to try to understand the other side, or give off the aura of tolerance––and this is my suggestion, not theirs).
For those wondering, no, Eaton is not a joke.
Frankly, Eaton sounds fun, cosmopolitan, and tactically quite smart. I am curious about how they’re going to screen people and keep out the inevitable gun-toting, MAGA hat-wearing trolls. But it makes sense to attempt to capitalize on increasing tribalism. After all, there’s a market for safe spaces on college campuses, and many safe space objectors claim they’re foolish since they don’t prepare students for the cruel, uninviting real world. But what if safe spaces could exist in the real world, and you could pay to join?
Don’t get me wrong: safe spaces are an idiotic concept if a society truly values liberal ideas. Escaping our bloated partisan bubbles and engaging with dissimilar people will ultimately be the key to a happier, more prosperous and understanding society.
But we also create safe spaces every day, in little ways, whether we realize it or not: are our spouses of similar political persuasion? Do we joke to our children that they should be a libertarian, or a conservative, just like us, hoping they grow up to have a lot in common with the people who raised them? It’s natural to want the people around you to share your fundamental values and at least some of your interests.
The creators of Eaton are smart, because they’ve realized that our political bubbles matter to us, and that they can make money off of those preferences. And since free association is a core part of our society and constitutional guarantees, liberals are more than welcome to stay there. But at some point, savage partisanship and our inability to see the other side’s points will take a toll on us. That point might be coming sooner than we think.
Instead of continuing to burrow deeper into our cozy echo chambers, we should be attempting to leave them.
Liz Wolfe (@lizzywol) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. She is managing editor at Young Voices.
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