Alexandra Pelosi Believes America Is “Purple”

By Allie Waxman

Certain we’re not as divided as we think, the filmmaker behind Outside the Bubble explains what liberal Americans can do to realize a more unified America.


HBO: What’s the most challenging thing about interviewing people you might disagree with?

Alexandra Pelosi: This may sound very surprising to you: I never had one ugly moment. Everybody was very respectful and very open to talk. Cable news leads us to believe that everyone in America is divided, that everything is us versus them. But when you actually go to visit people in their homes, nobody is as hardcore as they would appear on cable news. Everyone was very polite. People invited me to dinner; they invited me to spend the night. Every conversation is more nuanced than you think. Cable news wants you to believe that America is red versus blue. I would argue America is way more purple than it looks.

HBO: The film emphasizes the importance of getting outside our bubbles and listening to others. Were there any conversations that made you, personally, reconsider issues in a different way?

Alexandra Pelosi: Absolutely. It’s really easy to sit home in a liberal bubble and say climate change is the most important issue. If you live in Port Arthur, Texas, and you don’t have any food to feed your family for dinner tonight, global warming is not the most important issue; getting a job and feeding your family is. It’s much harder when you go and you meet people that are suffering to dictate what’s important.

HBO: What would you say to people who are interested in bridging the divide?

Alexandra Pelosi: Make some friends in the red states. You don’t even have to leave your state, there’s red in your own communities. You also need a balanced media diet. I believe that if everybody spent their next vacation in a community in America with people they didn’t agree with, they’d probably leave feeling a little more comfortable about the country they live in. If you spend time with people, you understand where they’re coming from and you respect them more than if you’re judging from a distance.

HBO: Do you hope both sides of the divide watch this film? What do you hope viewers will take away from it?

Alexandra Pelosi: I don’t think that red America needs to watch the film because that’s how they feel, although they rarely get represented. I think liberal America needs to watch to understand the America they live in. There are more of them than there are of you. Donald Trump is our president: He did win. There is a large part of this country that doesn’t agree with us on key issues and we have to respect that.