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Video: Convergence live: Digital information and political polarization

Video: Convergence live: Digital information and political polarization

From newsfeeds to comments sections, misinformation and conflict are hard to avoid while scrolling. Engaging with one another in unproductive ways and residing in deep echo chambers fuels dangerous polarization among Americans.

How can online discourse change to decrease toxic polarization instead? Convergence President & CEO David Eisner moderated this spirited conversation between Harvard Fellow and journalist Heidi Legg and first amendment attorney Ari Cohn.

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silhouettes of people arguing in front of an America flag
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'One side will win': The danger of zero-sum framings

Elwood is the author of “Defusing American Anger” and hosts thepodcast “People Who Read People.”

Recently, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito was surreptitiously recorded at a private event saying, about our political divides, that “one side or the other is going to win.” Many people saw this as evidence of his political bias. In The Washington Post, Perry Bacon Jr. wrote that he disagreed with Alito’s politics but that the justice was “right about the divisions in our nation today.” The subtitle of Bacon’s piece was: “America is in the middle of a nonmilitary civil war, and one side will win.”

It’s natural for people in conflict to see it in “us versus them” terms — as two opposing armies facing off against each other on the battlefield. That’s what conflict does to us: It makes us see things through war-colored glasses.

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Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump shaking hands

President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands at the 2019 G20 summit in Oasaka, Japan.

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Trump is a past, present and future threat to national security

Corbin is professor emeritus of marketing at the University of Northern Iowa.

Psychological scientists who study human behavior concur that past actions are the best predictor of future actions. If past actions caused no problem, then all is well. If, however, a person demonstrated poor behavior in the past, well, buckle up. The odds are very great the person will continue to perform poorly if given the chance.

Donald Trump’s past behavior regarding just one area of protecting American citizens — specifically national defense — tells us that if he becomes the 47th president, we’re in a heap of trouble. Examining Trump’s past national security endeavors needs to be seriously examined by Americans before voting on Nov. 5.

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Caped person standing on a mountain top
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It takes a team

Molineaux is the lead catalyst for American Future, a research project that discovers what Americans prefer for their personal future lives. The research informs community planners with grassroots community preferences. Previously, Molineaux was the president/CEO of The Bridge Alliance.

We love heroic leaders. We admire heroes and trust them to tackle our big problems. In a way, we like the heroes to take care of those problems for us, relieving us of our citizen responsibilities. But what happens when our leaders fail us? How do we replace a heroic leader who has become bloated with ego? Or incompetent?

Heroic leaders are good for certain times and specific challenges, like uniting people against a common enemy. We find their charisma and inspiration compelling. They help us find our courage to tackle things together. We become a team, supporting the hero’s vision.

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Donald Trump

Former President Donald Trump attends the first day of the 2024 Republican National Convention at Milwaukee on July 15.

Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A presidential assassination attempt offers a time to reflect

Nye is the president and CEO of the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress and a former member of Congress from Virginia.

In the wake of an assassination attempt on an American presidential candidate, we are right to take a moment to reflect on the current trajectory of our politics, as we reject violence as an acceptable path and look for ways to cool the kinds of political rhetoric that might radicalize Americans to the point of normalizing brute force in our politics.

Even though the motivations of the July 13 shooter are yet unclear, it’s worth taking a moment to try to reset ourselves and make an earnest effort to listen to our better angels. However, unless we change the way we reward politicians in our electoral system, it is very likely that the opportunity of this moment to calm our politics will be lost, like many others before it.

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People standing near 4 American flags

American flags fly near Washington Monument.

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A personal note to America in troubled times

Harwood is president and founder of The Harwood Institute. This is the latest entry in his series based on the "Enough. Time to Build.” campaign, which calls on community leaders and active citizens to step forward and build together.

I wanted to address Americans after the attempted assassination of former President Donald Trump. Consider this a personal note directly to you (yes, you, the reader!). And know that I have intentionally held off in expressing my thoughts to allow things to settle a bit. There’s already too much noise enveloping our politics and lives.

Like most Americans, I am praying for the former president, his family and all those affected by last weekend’s events. There is no room for political violence in our nation.

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