E Pluribus Unum? | Hidden Brain The tone of American politics can be so nasty that it may sometimes feel like our democracy is falling apart. Historian David Moss says it's more resilient than we think.
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American Democracy: "Productive Conflict," Or A Dumpster Fire?

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American Democracy: "Productive Conflict," Or A Dumpster Fire?

American Democracy: "Productive Conflict," Or A Dumpster Fire?

American Democracy: "Productive Conflict," Or A Dumpster Fire?

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/575942968/576607656" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

It may feel like political divisions are deeper than ever before. But historian David Moss argues our democracy has been tested many times — and has proven resilient. Anadolu Agency/Getty Images hide caption

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Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

It may feel like political divisions are deeper than ever before. But historian David Moss argues our democracy has been tested many times — and has proven resilient.

Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The tone of American politics can be...nasty. It doesn't take a seasoned political analyst to see that. But is this nastiness really worse than in previous eras, and if so, what does that mean for our democracy?

Historian David Moss takes the long view. He argues that our political systems are much more resilient than we realize, and that conflict, however bitter it may seem, can be productive.

In his new book, Democracy: A Case Study, Moss points out that there have been many moments in our history when panicked Americans wondered if the nation would survive. And yet, the United States is still here.

Furthermore, Moss says, many of the most intractable conflicts have resulted in innovations and compromises that still impact the way our government works today.

This week on Hidden Brain, history and the lessons it holds for our modern political conflicts.

Hidden Brain is hosted by Shankar Vedantam and produced by Maggie Penman, Jennifer Schmidt, Rhaina Cohen, Parth Shah, and Renee Klahr. Our supervising producer is Tara Boyle. You can also follow us on Twitter @hiddenbrain, and listen for Hidden Brain stories each week on your local public radio station.