We live in an age of political polarization. As political beliefs on the left and the right have been pulled closer to the extremes, so have our social environments: we seldom interact with those with whom we don't see eye to eye. Making matters worse, we are being appealed to-by companies, products, and teams, for example-based on our deep-seated, polarized beliefs. Our choice of Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts, Costco or Sam's Club, soccer or football, New York Times vs. Wall Street Journal is an expression of our beliefs and a reinforcement of our choice to stay within the confines of our self-selected political community, making us even more polarized. Letting it bleed into these choices in every corner of our lives, we take democracy too far and it ends up keeping us apart. We overdo democracy. When we overdo democracy, we allow it to undermine and crowd out many of the most important social goods that democracy is meant to deliver. What's more, in overdoing democracy, we spoil certain social goods that democracy needs in order to flourish. A thriving democracy needs citizens to reserve space in their social lives for collective activities that are not structured by political allegiances. To ensure the health and the future of democracy, we need to forge civic friendships by working together in social contexts in which political affiliations and party loyalties are not merely suppressed, but utterly beside the point. Drawing on his extensive research, Talisse sheds light on just how deeply entrenched our political polarization has become and opens our eyes to how often we allow politics to dictate the way we see almost everything. By limiting our interactions with others and our experience of the world so that we only encounter the politically like-minded, we are actually damaging the thing that democracy is meant to preserve in the first place: the more fundamental good of recognizing and respecting each other's standing as equals.
Can we have too much of a good thing? In this compelling book, Robert Talisse argues we can - that democracy can suffer when we make every issue a political issue, and every moment a political moment. An incisive and highly readable book that proposes novel solutions for the polarized times we live in. * Michael Patrick Lynch, Professor of Philosophy, University of Connecticut and author of Know-it-All Society * In his fascinating book, Talisse argues that the American social fabric is now being eroded by a new tendency to overdo democracy.The only solution for this problem, Talisse is right to claim, is to put democracy back in its proper place. Our tendency to politicise everything needs to be contained for democracy's sake. * Fabienne Peter, Professor of Philosophy, University of Warwick * It's always possible to have too much of a good thing - even for democracy. Robert Talisse reveals how our culture became saturated with politics nearly to the point of self-destruction. Exemplifying the use of philosophy to illuminate real world problems, Talisse shows that sustainable democracy requires thinking of our fellow citizens as people first and politicos second. To a culture rapidly overdosing on politics, this book offers both a diagnosis and a cure. * Regina Rini, Canada Research Chair in Philosophy of Moral and Social Cognition, York University * Political saturation, polarization, radicalization ... With precision and wit, Robert Talisse shows how politics today are tearing America apart - and how a revival of civic friendships can save our democracy from itself. * Leif Wenar, Chair of Philosophy and Law, King's College London *