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"To sustain this democracy, we must work to make space for the complex and contradictory identities within us and within each other," writes Pritchard.

The poverty of partisan identity

Pritchard is the director of strategic communications for Essential Partners, which fosters constructive dialogue where differences are driven by values, views and identities.

"Unless democratic habits of thought and action are part of the fiber of a people," the American philosopher John Dewey wrote on the eve of World War II, "political democracy is insecure. It can not stand in isolation. It must be buttressed by the presence of democratic methods in all social relationships."

Today, many of our social relationships have been stripped of those methods. Democratic habits are imperiled, if not lost. And many advocates, pundits and politicians point to "identity politics" as the cause.

Identity politics, the criticism goes, have corrupted our public discourse, our politics and our civic life. We read that identity is divisive, rancorous and dangerous. You can find this sentiment in op-eds, newspaper columns, Twitter threads and stump speeches. There's too much identity, the thinking goes, and not enough open debate.

I disagree. We don't have too much identity in our political lives. We have too little.

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Opinion
True
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We can and must embrace our diversity as the operating system of our nation, write the leaders of the Bridge Alliance.

Diverse people must be in every room where decisions are made

Molineaux and Nevins are co-founders of the Bridge Alliance, a coalition of 100 democracy strengthening organizations. (Disclosure: The Bridge Alliance Education Fund is a funder of The Fulcrum.)

As we look to history, it has always been the mystics and scientists, innovators and outliers who saw the future most clearly and acted to push — or call — society forward, to awaken from our slumber of the way things are and envision a better future. The stories of their personal transformation inspire us to be better individually and collectively. With this inspiration, we can and must transform our nation into a more perfect union.

As co-founders of the Bridge Alliance, we are inspired and challenged by the problems facing our country. Our 100 member organizations work daily to protect the ideals of our American Dream so we can create healthy self-governance that has never fully existed before. Our members work to harness the tension of our differences as we enact our inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, balancing individual and community needs.

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Adults of all ages agree: There's little confidence in elected leaders

But in general, young adults have a lot more trust issues than their elders

Sixty percent of young adults in the United States believe other people "can't be trusted," according to a recent Pew Research survey, which found that younger Americans were far more likely than older adults to distrust both institutions and other people. But adults of all ages did agree on one thing: They all lack confidence in elected leaders.

While united in a lack of confidence, the cohorts disagreed on whether that's a major problem. The study found that young adults (ages 18-29) were less likely than older Americans to believe that poor confidence in the federal government, the inability of Democrats and Republicans to work together, and the influence of lobbyists and special interest groups were "very big problems."

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Big Picture

Survey: Elected women outperform men, but a woman is unlikely to beat Trump

People favor an increase in female candidates and some think they often do a better job in office than men — but they are less certain that a woman can defeat Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election.

That is among several intriguing results of a survey released Thursday by All in Together, a nonpartisan political education nonprofit that urges women to participate in civic life and politics in particular.

The survey of 1,000 registered voters was conducted Aug. 2-9 and has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.

More than half of respondents (58 percent) said that more female candidates has "been a good thing for the country." Also, 42 percent of women and 23 percent of men said that women in elected officials do a better job that men.

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