cover image Them: Why We Hate Each Other—and How to Heal

Them: Why We Hate Each Other—and How to Heal

Ben Sasse. St. Martin’s, $28.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-250-19368-1

Republican senator Sasse (The Vanishing American Adult) provides here a common-sense, politically moderate interpretation of America’s social and political ills. Drawing from his experience growing up in rural America, Sasse ruminates on the deterioration of community bonds, growing social isolation, and the effects of these trends on American life and political culture. He opines that the collapse of traditional social bonds and community structures in recent decades has created a vacuum that has been filled by “anti-tribes”—associations and groupthinks characterized by being “against” ideas, political movements, or groups of people. Sasse also draws from his political career and select social science research (particularly Robert Putnam’s Bowling Alone, about the decline of American civic life) to hypothesize that Americans have become politically discouraged and that growing political antagonism and “partisan tribalism” have poisoned our political scene, partly because of the relatively new phenomenon of “polititainment”—political news that values entertainment over facts. Sasse doesn’t hesitate to criticize his fellow conservative Republicans. The solutions he proposes—pulling oneself away from screens to form connections with one’s family and neighbors, for instance—are overwhelmingly social and personal, rather than political. Sasse’s philosophical musings are unlikely to convert many skeptics. (Oct.)