When freedom-focused protests like the one taking place in Iran erupt, we feel inspired and energized. And there was a period when protests like these had a decent chance of having a positive impact. Consider the fact that “by the early 2000s, two in three protest movements demanding systemic change ultimately succeeded.” But, sadly, times have changed. Social media is part of the story. So are rising nationalist attitudes. But there’s another factor that Americans would be wise to note: polarization. “Polarized societies, in moments of turmoil, become likelier to split over mass protests. This can bolster even despised governments, helping them to cast protesters as representing a narrow interest group rather than the citizenry as a whole.” The more we hate each other, the more susceptible we are to minority rule, which is why so many political leaders are determined to divide us. It’s in their interest. They can only succeed when citizens view everything through a polarized lens. Max Fisher in the NYT (Gift Article): Even as Iranians Rise Up, Protests Worldwide Are Failing at Record Rates.