I finished reading Ben Sasse‘s book Them: Why We Hate Each Other – And How to Heal this past Thursday. I picked up this book because one of my research interests is the process of othering or creating The Other.
The author, Ben Sasse, is the newwest Senator from NEbraska, having just been elected in 2014. Sasse frames his argument for how we’ve gotten to the current state of othering within an s discussion of loneliness as a central condition and a need for tribes to surround ourselves. He points out one of the biggest problems resulting in othering is a result is the current state of politics.
The book discusses this concept of politics with the introduction one of my favorite new words: polititainment. Sasse uses this term to describe how the talking heads on tv, particularly on Fox News and MSNBC, create a false political dichotomy of extreme rights and extreme lefts that cannot work together and/or meet in the middle, which exists solely for personal profit and fame of the talking heads.
Part of his solution offering is to look at things in a new way. On the surface, this is a good offering. However, as his initial discussion involves the issue of loneliness, the discussion deviation into the area of discussing how people need to adapt to a new and changing sharing economy and the reduction of personal ownership appears to create more potential for othering and separating people rather than bringing them together.
Sasse ends his discussion of his particular concept of othering by offering up a pair of definitions to differentiate between politics and civics. He defines politics as being “about the use of power” and civics as being “about who we are as a people” (245).