How does a democracy get anything done when the electorate is heavily polarized? On the issues that seem to most divide Americans—gun-ownership, abortion rights, and the significance of race in politics, to name a few—it feels like everyone’s opinions are already made up. But savvy politicians know that what seem like solid voting blocs can be split into pieces using wedge issues. In today’s issue, Abdallah Fayyad looks into the history of wedge issues, and finds that, while they do divide us, they can be powerful forces for social change.

Join us on Monday, December 11, at 1:00 p.m. EST, for a conference call with The Atlantic’s Adam Serwer. We’ll talk about his essay “The Nationalist’s Delusion.” (If you want a crib sheet, check out his annotation of the article.)

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