WE SEEM TO be living in a time when people, Republican and Democrat, believe all facets of politics are imperfect. It’s just a fact; the people surveyed don’t expect any higher standard or any better to come of it. Yet, we can’t let our divisiveness threaten democracy.

Social scientist Arthur Brooks said there is a difference between anger and contempt. In his latest book, he wrote that anger is an emotion that occurs when we want to change someone’s behavior and we believe we can do so.

Contempt attempts to mock, shame and permanently exclude from relationships by belittling, humiliating and ignoring. Anger isn’t ruining our politics. Contempt, that dismissive attitude we hold against those who don’t share our views, is the bigger danger.

Contempt impairs our cognitive abilities and judgment, damages our self-esteem and makes us unhappy. Instead of having contempt for those we disagree with, we need to try and understand the world they live in. Think of them as equals, as family, not as inferior enemies.

Brooks is president of the American Enterprise Institute. He is calling for a reinvigorated Congress to move the American people back to a compromise-based politics and away from the “winner take all” system that’s rapidly embittering the country.

Whether they are liberal or conservative, most people have five moral intuitions: fairness, care for others, respect for authority, loyalty to one’s ideology and purity or sanctity. Brooks sees liberals embracing redistribution while conservatives favor merit.

The late Stephen Hawking once said “We are all different, but we share the same human spirit. Perhaps it’s human nature that we adapt and survive.”

For the sake of civility and the preservation of democracy, people need to meet in person, face to face. There is a problem with impersonal discussions taking place on social media, he wrote. We become tribal. We need interaction with people who hold different perspectives.

When something happens, get the facts before you make an assumption. Don’t jump to conclusions or rush to judgment, Truth matters and treating others the way you want to be treated will help you bypass getting into trouble with someone.

With today’s digitized and hyper-connected participatory democracy, we find ourselves debating mostly with people we don’t know and have no reason to respect. Contempt for these abstract people comes a lot easier than civility toward “flesh and blood” participants.



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POLITICS HAS always been a nasty, cutthroat sport. But unlike 20 years ago, one charismatic person with a cause can start a firestorm by going on a 24/7 news channel or social media and incite a revolution.

One has to wonder what our world will be like in five, 10 years if the current trend continues. While we’re constantly reminded of the political turmoil here in America, it isn’t limited to our country.

How about in Canada where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been accused of trying to sway a judicial ruling? Of course, Trudeau has denied wrongdoing.

There are always going to be disagreements and anyone with a grievance can find a bully pulpit to make accusations and a faction that will rebel against whoever is currently in high office.

French President Emmanuel Macron is dealing with violent protests against a fuel-tax hike. There are escalating tensions nearly everywhere. How can America be expected to mediate those situations when our people are so prone to resisting authority?

Then, there is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who is facing bribery, breach of trust and fraud charges. He is up for re-election in April. Opponents seeking to oust Netanyahu want to raise suspicions and rile the voters, plant seeds of doubt because it is “win at all costs.”

How about the crisis in Venezuela? Opposition leader Juan Guaidó is challenging corrupt President Nicolás Maduro. Venezuela, a once rich country, is being destroyed by violence, unrest, chaos and economic problems. This hot mess will take a long time to end.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has her hands full with the Brexit separation from the European Union deal. Most of our European allies also are overwhelmed by political challenges. Then, you may be aware that India and Pakistan are flirting with nuclear war.

Would Americans want to trade our problems with those mentioned above? After two years of investigations, Democrats still haven’t found sufficient cause to impeach President Donald Trump, but they refuse to stop looking, regardless of the damage they are doing to democracy.

Despite comments from House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi warning of overreach and investigation fatigue, members of her party have pressed ahead saying “Just because nothing is there doesn’t mean we should stop looking.”

It’s a case of reaching a conclusion before gathering the facts. The goal is to keep the political press writing about potential scandals and causing government gridlock until the 2020 general election.