Mason believes the implications of such shallow divisions between people could make the work of democracy harder. If your goal in politics is not based around policy but just defeating your perceived enemies, what exactly are you working toward? (Is it any surprise there is an entire genre of campus activism dedicated to simply upsetting your perceived political opponents?)
“The fact that even this thing’s that supposed to be about reason and thoughtfulness and what we want the government to do, the fact that even that is largely identity-powered, that’s a problem for debate and compromise and the basic functioning of democratic government. Because even if our policy attitudes are not actually about what we want the government to do but instead about who wins, then nobody cares what actually happens in the government,” Mason said. “We just care about who’s winning in a given day. And that’s a really dangerous thing for trying to run a democratic government.”
She suggested a solution: Spend some time talking to your neighbors, friends, and loved ones about things besides politics.
“The problem is not a policy-based problem, because on average we’re relatively moderate in these policy attitudes. Talking to each other about political stuff is sort of the worst solution ever, because all that’s going to do is activate our political identities, which cause us to dislike each other. The better thing to do is if your next door neighbor is of a different political orientation than you, to talk about their dog, or what’s going on in their family,” Mason said. “In general, the best way to get through this polarization is to start thinking of each other as human beings.”