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What we can do about political polarization

The committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol is holding another primetime hearing Thursday night. It comes at a time of high tension in the American political landscape.

A new University of California Davis study found that one in five Americans think that political violence is at least sometimes justifiable “in general.” The researchers found that distrust of American democratic institutions is contributing to feelings of alienation.

More than half of respondents said there will be another civil war in this country in the next several years.

Last month at the Aspen Ideas Festival, we hosted a panel conversation about the roots of political polarization and what can be done to find common ground.

“There are these signs all around us of what is remarkably enduring about the American ideal that holds us all together,” said Lauren Leader, CEO and co-founder of the non-partisan group All in Together. “In the January 6th hearings, there was this extraordinary group of patriots that believed in our constitution and believed in the core principle that we are a representative Democracy and no one person has the right to overturn the will of the people.”

The panel also examined the role of social media in amplifying the most polarizing content and how people can constructively engage with those they fundamentally disagree with.

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Chris Remington