The 2020 U.S. presidential election is over. Yet a large swath of our nation — including the sitting president — is refusing to accept the outcome. We are a nation deeply divided, perhaps even more so than we thought on Nov. 2.

President-elect Joe Biden should be commended for immediately appealing for national unity and bipartisanship, and for attempting to combat the deluge of divisive rhetoric spouting from the White House. However, the roots of our runaway division are complex and decades-old. Acute levels of partisan enmity in our electorate, divergent realities spun by dueling media ecosystems and a deep investment in the status quo of many political elites make it impossible for any lone president to heal our divide. It is simply beyond the reach of executive leadership.

Yet it is the defining issue of our era. Extreme levels of polarization and contempt are not only toxic to our personal health, relationships and communities, but they also impair our ability as a nation to unite against the existential crises threatening our survival. When extreme natural disasters like COVID-19, wildfires and hurricanes fail to unify and are instead used as partisan weapons, reunification seems a pipe dream. 

So, what is our torn and weary nation to do? 


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