We Fix Politics By Building Community
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We Fix Politics By Building Community

Ben Sasse's book "Them" reveals that our breakdown in community is fueling our partisan politics.

We Fix Politics By Building Community
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Most books or documentaries about politics get you fired up and angry at the other side. Maybe it is dirt on a president or a dark past with a particular party. But I believe one book actually analyzes what the cause is of our political divide. That book is "Them" by Nebraskan senator Ben Sasse. He is a Republican, but he actually has a lot of criticism for Republicans and conservatives in his book just as much for Democrats and liberals. But the point of his book is not who is right, it is about what is causing this friction and hatred among Americans over politics. Without spoiling too much of the book, I would like to share his main theme for the book: community.

This is not meant to sound old-fashioned, but we used to have more thriving communities in America. Families were more intact, people were close to each other, and politics didn't dominate the landscape so much. This is not ignoring the issues of that day or saying that they were perfect, but they had strengths that our communities are lacking today. Loneliness is on the rise, which is actually something I talked about in one of my earlier articles about investing in friendships. As everyone knows, loneliness leads to depression and anger. We want to belong and have social connections with people. Sasse uses the term "tribes" to describe how we belong. This makes sense when we consider ancient hunter-gatherer societies and even early farming communities.

There are many causes of the loneliness epidemic which are described in the book, one of which is technology. I won't go into too much detail, but technology has become so advanced that we can create replicas of human-beings that do not have the flaws like normal human beings do. As a result, people are increasingly choosing technology to replace their actual friends and family members. The problem is that a robot will never give you the same closeness of a relationship with an actual human being. An example is the accessibility of pornography and how men can get fake girlfriends that seem real. If you want a good example, look at the otaku of Japan. We are bombarded by new technology that distracts us from the real people in front of us and the potentially fulfilling relationships that can actually make us happy.

Notice that I have not mentioned Republicans and Democrats the entire time except for the beginning. This issue cuts across partisan lines. The way politics ties in is that due to a lack of communities, we seek other ways to belong. Politics has become that new way. How has that worked out for us? Politics unites people against something and creates hatred. How often do you see politics cause love, unity, and true strength? It rarely, if ever, does. What adds to the anger is the way our news media is designed. The majority of news sources are not interested in giving food for thought or truth, they are interested in marketing and retaining their audience. The way to do that is to run stories that confirm what your audience believes and cause the opposing side to hate you more. Sad to say, conservative and liberal media sources do this (not saying every single media source). Ironically, technology does have one benefit in this area, which is that more independent media sources are more accessible.

The damage has been done by this trend. We see violence between Americans on the Internet frequently. We have forgotten about our national identity as a people. When our founding fathers created the Constitution, they did not agree on everything. There were very different visions for the future. But they agreed on certain fundamental principles and established the country so that we could be united on important points. One of those points is that regardless of your background and personal identity if you are a citizen of the United States, you are an American. It didn't matter if you were German or French. It didn't matter if you were Catholic or Presbyterian. They also agreed that our country should be a place where you have freedom of speech and religious liberty to choose what you believe and debate ideas for the advancement of society.

Again, I do not want to spoil the entire book. I highly recommend that every American read it to keep the bigger picture in mind when it comes to politics. Reading the book provides all of the detailed analysis and research Sasse cites. It also gives suggestions on what the future will be and what we should do. I have a few ideas myself as to what we should do now. One, limit our news consumption and research a news source that actually enriches your knowledge, rather than turn your face red with anger. This isn't necessarily news, but I suggest watching the Rubin Report on Youtube. They are insightful interviews with people on the left and right. Second, balance our use of technology and spend time with the people in front of us. Everyone that has taken a break from technology has not once said that it made their life worse. Third, start seeing your fellow citizens as part of your community, ignoring their political party. And if you do talk about different ideas, be open-minded and ask questions. Don't assume you know everything.

Perhaps you already do these things and I commend you for it. I just think we need to stress more of these actions, rather than finger pointing, in order to start fixing our problems. What I think is neat is that these are actions we can take in our everyday lives. Let's stop making excuses and start taking the right steps.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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