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Review of How Contempt Destroys Democracy

The following is a review of my book How Contempt Destroys Democracy written by Brendan Bartholomew, a self-described liberal. (Full disclosure: Brendan and I are acquaintances due to me interviewing him for my podcast about his work.)


This is the wake-up call we need


"How Contempt Destroys Democracy" is a stunning shot in the arm for liberals like me, who have become entrenched in our anger as we imagine we're watching our country get ripped away from us. I hope this book impacts you and the world as much as it's affected me.


If you're anything like me, you're deeply concerned about the rise of the far right. But read "How Contempt Destroys Democracy" and you'll begin to understand how political polarization and divisive tribalism which we liberals play a part in are making things much worse.


Elwood's work has slowly, subtly shifted my view of the conservatives I've harbored so much anger towards. He does a brilliant job of helping me understand my own culpability in America's divisions, explaining how the loudest, most extreme voices in the room consistently pull both sides farther from the center, and thus make their own side increasingly terrifying to the other side.


For many, including myself, there's a deeply ingrained conviction in the righteousness of our own stance and the perceived wrongness of the opposing side. If you're one of my fellow liberals or leftists, you may rest assured Elwood doesn't advocate for abandoning your beliefs, values, or loyalties.


Rather, he encourages us to see that we're caught in a feedback loop with "the other side," and he does an amazing job of describing not only the feedback loop's mechanisms, but also its broader implications for individuals and society.


I felt saner and less afraid for the future after reading Elwood's first book and his latest one. I also feel like I might be better able to engage with conservative acquaintances, coworkers, and family members in constructive ways.


This was a review by Brendan Bartholomew.

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