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Jeff Blum
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220 followers
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"Mentally tough people often voluntarily choose the hard path, the road less traveled. They will go out of their way to experience failure so they can turn their focus into looking for ways to turn obstacles into opportunities. [...] It takes confidence to look failure in the face and keep moving forward, because if we are confident in ourselves and our ability, we look at our struggle as part of the fine-tuning process."

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"Success can be very misleading because it is often not what really fuels us. It is a success that is based in complacency because we are too scared of failure to pursue the type of work that would provide value and meaning."

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"Weak people try to cover up the pain and delude themselves rather than intelligently looking for way to produce real change. Don’t hope for a life with no pain; hope for a life with good pain. We all know that not everything that feels good is actually good. In the same way, not everything that feels painful is necessarily bad."

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"Reminding yourself of what could go wrong is not pessimism. It’s being smart. You will encounter rude bosses, conniving colleagues and unruly customers. Why not prepare for them?"

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"Victimhood has become very popular. It’s now possible to be offended and insulted for just about anything. It feels self-righteous to cast ourselves as a victim, but as cartooonist Tim Kreider points out, outrage is one of those things that will eventually devour us from the inside out."

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Our national political polarization is by now so well established that the only real debate is over the nature of our cultural, political, and religious conflict. Are we in the midst of a more or less conventional culture war? Are we, as Dennis Prager and others argue, fighting a kind of “cold” civil war? Or are we facing something else entirely?

I’d argue that we face “something else,” and that something else is more akin to the beginning stages of a national divorce than it is to a civil war. This contention rests fundamentally in two trends, one political and the other far beyond politics. The combination of negative polarization and a phenomenon that economist Tyler Cowen calls “matching” is leading to a national separation so profound that Americans may not have the desire to fight to stay together. Unless trends are reversed, red and blue may ultimately bid each other adieu.

First, let’s deal with negative polarization. [...] Americans tend to belong to their political “tribe” not so much because they love its ideas but rather because they despise their opponents.

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These trends would be troubling enough, but combine them with “matching” and you get a nation whose citizens increasingly lives separate lives — living in separate locations, enjoying separate media, and holding separate religious beliefs.

As Cowen relates in his important book, The Complacent Class, Americans now have an extraordinary ability not just to meet, interact, and maintain relationships with people of our own social and political class but also to form extraordinarily precise and insulated subcultures. The Internet brings all of human knowledge to our smartphones, but rather than using it as a tool for outreach and understanding, we’re using it to find and live with people just like us. In other words, we’re sorting.

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You can overlay the electoral map with any number of additional maps, including church-attendance maps and even maps of television ratings, and you’ll see clear political and cultural divides.

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Put all these trends together and you can discern the reason for the “politicization of everything.” It’s easy: It’s often the path of least resistance, and it gives people a sense of larger purpose. When you live, work, and speak with people of like mind, it’s virtually inevitable that common expressions of shared views will leak into sports, corporate policy, and even debates about superhero movies. Americans have choices, and millions have chosen ideologically closed enclaves. Why wouldn’t they continue to extend that choice beyond the realms of politics and religion?

A civil war results when the desire for unification and domination overrides the desire for separation and self-determination. The American civil war is a classic example. There were grounds for separation — North and South were culturally different on a scale that dwarfs modern divides between red and blue — but the North did not consent. [...] Here is the core American question. As we continue our own “big sort,” will the desire to separate trump the desire to dominate? Or can we instead choose to tolerate?

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...as our sorting continues, our ability to persuade diminishes. (After all, how can we understand communities we don’t encounter?)

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