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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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"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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If Americans are going to combat polarization, they need to begin from a clear understanding of what it is, writes Talisse.

Political polarization is about feelings, not facts

Talisse is a philosophy professor at Vanderbilt University.The Conversation

Politicians and pundits from all quarters often lament democracy's polarized condition.

Similarly, citizens frustrated with polarized politics also demand greater flexibility from the other side.

Decrying polarization has become a way of impugning adversaries. Meanwhile, the political deadlock and resentment that polarization produces goes unaddressed. Ironic, right?

Commentators rarely say what they mean by polarization. But if Americans are to figure out how to combat it, they need to begin from a clear understanding of what polarization is.

My forthcoming book, "Overdoing Democracy," argues that polarization isn't about where you get your news or how politicians are divided – it's about how a person's political identity is wrapped up with almost everything they do.

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