“Politics is important because we’ve got to have good policies that permit all the other institutions to function in a way that empowers people,” Koch said at the end of our 51-minute conversation. “We’ve got people so hyped on politics now that it seems like they think that’s all there is. You know, ‘If the other side wins, it’ll ruin the country and destroy us forever.’ Both sides are saying that, and feel that, and think this is the most important thing. Well, it is important, but it isn’t going to make any difference unless we all learn to work together and help each other and move toward a society of equal rights and mutual benefit.”

Koch expressed hope that America can begin to lower the temperature, turn down the volume of bitterness and elevate a public discourse that he feels has become overly coarse. He sees this as vital to prevent society from taking a turn for the worse.

“Let’s get together and make that happen so we can start helping each other, rather than hurting each other,” Koch said. “This is crazy! Are we going to have a civil war? I mean, this is madness. We see the results of that: We see that in countries where that’s going on, where people are killing each other. I mean, this is crazy, and we’ve got elements of that from both sides. So let’s get away from that!”