Studies have shown that there is growing ideological consistency between the two parties and also growing partisan antipathy. Many have attributed this political divide to be one of differences between rural and urban America. One of the courses I took in my junior year was with a professor named John Stilgoe who conducted extensive research on the environment in small town and rural landscapes. Despite the economic reasons for the rural-urban divide, there could also be an interpersonal divide due to a lack of face time with these separating groups. When train travel was the most popular method of transportation between long distances, individuals would unintentionally be exposed to the diversity of landscape and people en route to their destination. With each stop, they would see the buildings of that township and possibly even meet people as well. Now, with the convenience of air travel, we forego this in between space as “flyover-land” and are no longer exposed to the diversity of the people in our paths even over short distances, for example, along the Northeast Corridor.
My proposal attempts to utilize popular transit lines by adding an additional private car to the trains operating these routes. I still wanted to cater to dual desires and experiment with opulence and exclusivity so I imagined the private car to be luxurious like Pullman cars in their heyday.
The experience would allow someone to travel to their intended destination but with the added immersive game. The game would be a surprise each time but would always be centered around getting the passengers to talk to each other and understand each other’s stories well. It could be cooperative, for example, passengers would work together to determine the validity of various facts about the United States and the rest of the world and the reward for completely correct answers is a free ticket somewhere else. For a riskier approach, a game could be to force a cooperation game between two halves of passengers, such as the prisoner’s dilemma. At the end of the experience, each passenger (if introducing themselves was not a part of the game) will introduce themselves to the rest of the car and give a little background of their story. It’s not really known how to combat ideological consistency, self-selecting confirmation bias, and partisan antipathy, on a larger scale, but I’m interested to see how people survey on the way out of this experience.