A former Clinton administration official studied how to facilitate more constructive arguments among Americans. These are his conclusions.

Earlier this month, amid a particularly trying stretch on social media, I joked that I would soon be launching Ad Hominem, “a new journal of non-ideas founded in response to apparent massive popular demand. Issue One: You’re Trash.” While there never was a golden age of argument, the impersonal hyper-connectedness of the internet and the near omnipresence of our access to it have transformed the civic experience for those who remember something different.

“We have gotten habituated to penalty-free trashing of each other,” says Eric Liu, a former speech writer and policy adviser in the Bill Clinton administration.

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