Sen. Ben Sasse's new book goes on sale Tuesday, propelled by accompanying praise from filmmaker Ken Burns, Gens. David Petraeus and Michael Hayden, and Garry Kasparov, the former Russian world chess champion.
"Them: Why We Hate Each Other — And How To Heal" explores the lonely isolation of the growing tribalism and alienation that separates us as individuals and neighbors and now even denies us a shared sense of truth.
Both of the dominant political parties "feed and profit" off those divisions, Sasse said during a telephone interview Monday, "and it's being swallowed whole by cable news."
"Twenty years ago, 14 percent of Americans believed the other political party was evil," Sasse said. "Now, it's 41 percent."
"And political tribes are much better at anti than pro," he said.
When "I Love Lucy" dominated TV screens half a century ago, 70 percent of the American TV audience shared the experience and talked about it the next morning at the office water cooler, Sasse said.
Now, the TV audience is fragmented into small slices and there is not any broadly shared experience, he said.
Cable TV news networks such as Fox and MSNBC appeal to distinctly separate tribal audiences and deliver messages to viewers who agree with them.
"We don't have anything in common," Sasse said.
Americans are increasingly tribal, isolated and lonely, he said.
If you expand your social-media friends from 200 to 500, "you're not any happier," Sasse said. "You're happier if you get to know your neighbor two doors away."
Neighborhood and community is at the heart of his appeal.
Sasse said he wrote the book between the hours of 4 a.m. and 7 a.m., Monday through Saturday, from last December until late April, in Nebraska and in Washington.
The new book follows on the heels of "The Vanishing American Adult," which made the New York Times bestselling list.
And what's next?
Nothing's in the works, Sasse said.
But he's been thinking a lot about cyber and China, he said.