Peter T. Coleman is a Professor of Psychology and Education at Columbia University, where he holds a joint appointment at Teachers College and The Earth Institute and teaches courses in Conflict Resolution, Social Psychology, and Social Science Research.
1. See the way out.
We know from studies of how civil wars end that two things matter most for motivating people to choose a path out of war: sufficient misery and a clear sense of a way out.
The good news is that a recent study found that about 93% of Americans—what they call the Exhausted Middle Majority—today are fed up and want out of the current political polarization trap. However, these miserable masses also need a clear sense of how to get out, a promising alternative for moving on with their lives that is not too costly.
One of the most powerful sources of how to get out is when we see people, particularly those on the other side of the divide, finding and choosing more constructive ways to engage politically. Like when I see Democratic Congressman Derek Kilmer and Republican William Timmons, who co-chair The Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, working tirelessly together to make Congress more effective, efficient, and transparent for us all, they give me hope that there is a way through.
“93% of Americans today are fed up and want out of the current political polarization trap.”