- - Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Cal Thomas’ column, “After Trump acquittal, what’s next?” (Web, Feb. 3), ends by unambiguously pronouncing that a win by President Trump in the 2020 election “will send the left and most of the media into another deep depression.” Such judgments reflect how America’s Jacobin divide between the populist left and populist right is getting deeper, with only an indefinable chance of being healed in the foreseeable future. The chasm is too simply too large.

Both of these political-identity groups, on the left and right, look warily at each other. The dynamic worryingly corroborates the notion that unforgiving partisanship erects a shield around the mind, deflecting the opposition’s arguments. Supercharged confirmation bias influences the executive function of the mind: What affirms our ideologies is embraced and all else is dismissed as bogus.

There’s no evidence that human instinct can prevail in pushing back against polemical tribalism — in government or the public at large. In this context of marginalization of “the other,” the philosopher Michel Foucault presaged current perils and a possible fix. He counseled that free thought presents an immense setback for authoritarians who seek to control the narrative — an antidote for uncompromising agenda setting on both sides of the divide.

KEITH TIDMAN

Bethesda, Md.



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