Our politics feel divisive not because of a raging battle in middle America but because there is a vast gap between (1) what Americans believe; (2) what the mass media tell us Americans to believe; and (3) what politicians actually decide, no matter what Americans believe. Even with their differences according to region, class, race, and ethnicity, Americans are generally moderate and mostly generous in spirit, though the media tend to emphasize and even promote the extremes. And the politicians vote along with the rich and the special interests. We thereby end up with a very biased view of our own country. America can be much better than it is today if public policies begin to follow American values, not the values that corporate-driven media pretend to be American values.
For that to happen, though, the public will have to exercise a new and higher level of political responsibility. Special interests dominate our politics not only because they have more money but also because much of the general public has disengaged itself from public deliberations. Yes, the politicians and corporate interests typically strive to keep the public in the dark, but much of the public allows this to happen by not working hard enough to stay informed.