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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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