Ideas argued persuasively, in good faith, with facts, reason and a principled goal in mind are essential to a healthy democracy. And yet in these divided times, the work of crafting opinion can be a perilous and counterproductive enterprise. Human nature is enough on a good day to foil compromise and forward momentum. Today we face so much more.

Too many local news outlets —  which once informed, united and grounded us — have faltered. Social media feeds and blaring partisan cable news channels funnel us into bias-confirming domes. Our debates are fogged and hardened by disinformation sown by those with bad intent — some foreign, some with deep pockets lined with dark money — who seek to wield division, ignorance and confusion in order to game our democracy and seize their best advantage. We seem to have become incapable of seeing each other — our differing life experiences and values — with nuance and compassion. And too many politicians eagerly pump the bellows to inflame and leverage these divides — some real and substantive, some artificial and manufactured — to curry donors’ favor and secure cushy seats at the public trough.

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