Can Joe Biden ‘Heal’ The United States?

As a result, Americans today see their opponents as untrustworthy, dishonest, unpatriotic, threatening and even harmful to the nation, according to recent polling by the Pew Research Center. Bitter partisanship has rendered Americans unable to treat their opponents as democratic partners.

Research shows that momentary exposure to political messages that slightly oppose our own typically intensifies animosity toward rivals. And when opponents attempt to correct us, we commonly double down and escalate. That’s why even fact-checking Trump’s tweets amplifies divisions: When Twitter marks a Trump tweet as misleading, research finds, Republicans grow more inclined to believe it, while Democrats grow less inclined.

Listening can heal only when our divides lie within democracy’s mutual ground – the basic principle that, despite their differences, citizens are political equals. Today’s bitter partisanship has eroded this mutual ground in the United States.

In order to heal, Americans must recover the democratic mutual ground. Doing so would require rehabilitating people’s views of their fellow citizens. That is, Americans would need to see other Americans as people first, independently of their partisan affiliation.

This isn’t easy. Partisan division is a feature of our everyday social environments, with Republicans and Democrats often living entirely different kinds of lives.

If we already define ourselves and others in terms of partisan loyalties, the road to healing does not run through more political dialogue. Instead, Americans would need to do things together that have nothing to do with politics, engaging in activities that in no way express our partisan loyalties – volunteering with a community organization, for example, or joining a bowling league.

Yet opportunities for this kind of nonpartisan interaction have dwindled. And how do you heal a nation through bowling, anyway? You can’t, of course. Meanwhile, all the big stuff Americans do as a nation, from voting to raising families, is tinged with partisanship.

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This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

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Bruce Wilds 2 months ago Contributor's comment

When it comes to the election, a great number of people are angry and pissed off over various issues. Some Americans are hanging on to the hope that Trump may still prevail. Expect a huge spike in emotions when the reality hits those that are wrong. The article below focuses on this subject.