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Working to Overcome the 'Culture of Contempt'

Wikimedia Commons / Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ
Arthur C. Brooks

Arthur C. Brooks has spent the last two decades immersed in public policy analysis as the President of the American Enterprise Institute, and as an author, and opinion writer for the New York Times. While Brooks has in the past been registered as both Democrat and Republican, these days he says he identifies as independent. His latest book, called “Love Your Enemies: How decent people can save America from the Culture of Contempt” explores the great political divide that currently exists in this country. It describes what he calls an “outrage industrial complex” that’s actively working to create a “culture of contempt” that leads to seeing people with whom you disagree as not just wrong, but in some ways worthless as people, or even bad, or evil.

In a recent op-ed in the Times he says political scientists have found that our nation is more polarized than it has been at any time since the Civil War. And that one in six Americans has fully stopped talking to a family member or close friend because of the 2016 election. But, alongside that, the nonprofit More in Common found in 2018 that 93 percent of Americans say they are tired of how divided we have become as a country. And that large majorities say privately that they believe in the importance of compromise, reject the absolutism of the extreme wings of both parties, and are not motivated by partisan loyalty. So how did we get here, and what can each of us do to reverse this division and find common ground to stand on together?


Mr. Brooks will be in southwest Florida next week for the Naples Next Ideas Festival. He’ll be giving the morning keynote on Monday, March 18th at Naples Grande Resort.