MINOT, N.D. — Politics is the art of persuasion. Or so the old saw goes, though it can be hard to discern the truth of that saying at a time when politics seems to have become the art of destroying those who disagree with you.

Is anybody trying to change minds anymore? We tend to think of electoral politics as the process through which a candidate wins over voters, but in reality, it’s become an exercise in getting your people to the polls while convincing the other side’s people to stay home.

At the personal level, millions and millions of Americans make the sum total of their contribution to the debates at the heart of our democracy some indignant social media posts and meme-sharing. Actions not calculated to win over hearts and minds, but to advertise the poster’s feelings, while often disparaging the views of others.

Is it any wonder that our politics have become intractable? Our political institutions dysfunctional?

I was thinking about this over the weekend while having a back-and-forth on Twitter with Katrina Christiansen, the candidate for the U.S. Senate currently running unopposed for the Democratic-NPL’s endorsement.

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