Don’t get me wrong. I met a few less attractive types along the way—people who would openly assure me of the vast global conspiracies that control the White House—and I spent enough time on the Breitbart comment pages to have my faith in humanity weakened a time or two. But these instances were far outnumbered by the many points of commonality I found along the way. As Sam Adams, an openly gay mayor who worked closely with Portland’s evangelical community, told me, we’ve all fallen into a trap: “If we disagree, we must hate each other. If the media portrays us, certain aspects of us or certain individuals hating each other, then that must be true for everybody … There are things we don’t agree on as a liberal Democrat and as an evangelical leader … We can agree to disagree on gay marriage and disagree on abortion but we probably agree on eight of 10 things that are important to society.”

We loathe the other side far more than we used to – polls show that most Americans now believe the other political party threatens the nation’s well-being, and a stunning number of us now disapprove of our children engaging in mixed marriages – not racially mixed, not religiously mixed, but politically mixed. But the odd thing is that while we are far more politically polarized, we are not more issue polarized than in the past. It is counterintuitive in this age of anger, but on the issues, we still tend to be a fairly agreeable and moderate people. As Morris Fiorina, the Stanford political scientist, has observed, “on most issues, attitudes continue to cluster in the middle rather than lump up on the extremes.”