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How has America become so polarized? Has negative partisanship opened the floodgates for disinformation and propaganda in our politics? How is cancel culture related to information warfare? How can those who believe in free government fight back? In this Conversation, Jonathan Rauch, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, shares his perspective. Drawing on his new book, The Constitution of Knowledge, Rauch argues that to understand contemporary polarization, we must focus on deliberate campaigns of disinformation conducted by political actors who benefit from the weakening of institutions through the diffusion of falsehoods and conspiracy theories. Considering the phenomenon of cancel culture, Rauch argues it should be understood as a systematic attempt to weaken the expression of opinions and civil debate upon which American government rests. Though alarmed about the spread of disinformation, Rauch suggests we may be seeing the beginning of mobilization against cancel culture. He calls on those who believe in America’s constitutional government, civil society, and pluralism to stand up on behalf of those institutions.
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