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Civic Ed
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"To sustain the moral posture that democracy demands, we must refuse to see partisan affiliation as the defining trait of our fellow citizens," argues Robert Talisse.

Democracy demands moral citizenship. Is it too much for us?

Talisse is a philosophy professor at Vanderbilt University.

Democracy is hard work. If it is to function well, citizens must do a lot of thinking and talking about politics. But democracy is demanding in another way as well. It requires us to maintain a peculiar moral posture toward our fellow citizens. We must acknowledge that they're our equals and thus entitled to an equal say, even when their views are severely misguided. It seems a lot to ask.

To appreciate the demand's weight, consider that a citizen's duty is to promote justice. Accordingly, we tend to regard our political opposition as being not merely on the wrong side of the issues, but on an unjust side. Citizens of a democracy must pursue justice while also affirming that their fellow citizens are entitled to equal power even when they favor injustice. What's more, citizens are obligated to acknowledge that, under certain conditions, it is right for government to enact their opposition's will. This looks like a requirement to be complicit with injustice. That's quite a burden.

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Civic Ed
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"Thanksgiving provides a setting in which we can do more than struggle to suppress our political differences," argues Robert Talisse.

Civility & Thanksgiving Part 1: Why you should leave politics off the menu

Talisse is a philosophy professor at Vanderbilt University.

An internet search for "surviving Thanksgiving politics" returns more than 10 million results. The major news venues have run autumn columns on navigating political debate over Thanksgiving dinner for several years running. The advice offered is sensible: Remain calm, listen respectfully, seek common ground and so on.

But many of the most recent columns offer an additional tip. Noting that Donald Trump's presidency might have made Thanksgiving civility impossible, they suggest skipping the holiday altogether.

Something strange is afoot when America turns to journalists for advice in surviving a holiday devoted nearly entirely to eating good food. Politics has rendered Thanksgiving something to be dreaded. Given the purpose of the holiday, this is tragic. Can anything be done to save Thanksgiving from our partisan divisions?

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Big Picture

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"To keep American democracy healthy, people all across the country will have to do more than engage with different ideas online," writes Robert B. Talisse.

Partisan divide creates different Americas, separate lives

Talisse is a philosophy professor at Vanderbilt University.

When people try to explain why the United States is so politically polarized now, they frequently refer to the concept of "echo chambers."

That's the idea that people on social media interact only with like-minded people, reinforcing each other's beliefs. When people don't encounter competing ideas, the argument goes, they become less willing to cooperate with political opponents.

The problem goes beyond the online world. In my new book, " Overdoing Democracy: Why We Must Put Politics in its Place," I explain that in the United States, liberals and conservatives do not only differ politically.

They also live separate lives in the physical world.

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