With polarization driving differences over race, ethnicity and cultural values to new heights, the capacity on the left for the kind of full-fledged empathy for working class Trump supporters described by Sosnik and Begala is at a low point. Indeed, Shanto Iyengar and Sean Westwood, political scientists at Stanford and Dartmouth, found in a 2015 paper that partisan identity is now more polarized even than racial identity.

“If you go back to the days of the Civil War, one can find cases in American political history where there was far more rancor and violence,” Iyengar told my Times colleagues Emily Badger and Niraj Chokshi in the Upshot. “But in the modern era, there are no ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ — partisan animus is at an all-time high.”