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Agreeing to disagree is impossible without conversation

President Trump is not and has not committed treason. Likewise, there is no coup afoot in the country. The nation is just trying to adjust to the “Age of Trump,” which has turned so much on its head.

The degree to which one is a naked partisan can be gauged by your reaction to those two statements of fact. If you get angry at the statement of fact that President Trump is not and has not committed treason, you are really no different from those who think a coup is afoot in the country.

The great problem we have in our nation today is insularity of thought. It is no wonder that college campuses and coastal cities have churned out the most protestors against Donald Trump. They happen to be the most insular places in the nation, according to the highly regarded researchers at Pew. It is more likely for a conservative in the rural South to encounter a liberal than it is a liberal on a college campus or in New York City to encounter a conservative. Even so, as Pew notes, it does not take a lot of work for conservatives to avoid encountering a liberal.

That insularity makes it much easier for both sides to attribute malice to the other side. I listened to a technology podcast a few weeks ago and one of the speakers lamented the fight over health care. He said it used to be a lot easier in this country to deal with the other side when you knew both sides wanted the same thing, but through different means. Now, he said, the GOP simply wanted people to not have health care so they really are terrible people. I nearly ran off the road I laughed so hard.

It takes a great deal of insularity to conclude Republicans really want people to not have health insurance or to die. In fact, neither political party in this country is malicious. Both just have different visions for what is best.

As both sides have become convinced the other is out to destroy the nation, the partisan rhetoric in the country has gotten far worse. I am growing more worried that it will inevitably lead to violence.

Just consider the current rhetoric. On one side you have noted left-wing pundits claiming the Republicans are a criminal enterprise in league with the Russians to impose an authoritarian dictatorship on the nation. If you truly believe this, how can you not possibly take up arms to fight back? On the other side, you have noted right-wing pundits claiming the Democrats are engaged in an unconstitutional coup to overthrow the lawfully elected American government. If you truly believe this, how can you not possibly take up arms to defend the Constitution?

Truthfully, I think the people spewing this on both sides do not really believe it. They are just trying to keep their own sides motivated and engaged for mid-term elections. But others will believe it if it is repeated enough.

The hardest and most necessary thing this country needs right now is to understand that the people you disagree with are not malicious in their intent. Unfortunately, that is easier said than done.

Tenured college professors, increasingly isolated in bastions of liberalism, have begun more aggressively pushing away conservative voices, so ideas are no longer able to compete. Ideological warriors on both sides work hard to only encounter those they agree with. And few are willing to break bread and agree to disagree on politics while finding so much about life they have in common.

Erick Erickson is a Fox News contributor and radio talk show host in Atlanta.

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