Sasse says the digital revolution is "undermining" Americans' sense of local community

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska, says the digital revolution that fundamentally changed the economy is also "undermining" the country's overall sense of community. 

"We're living through a digital revolution which is undermining 'place.' I think the biggest problem in America right now is loneliness. And the good news is it's fixable, but it requires friendship. It requires more attention to place and family and shared vocation and work and neighborhood and worshipping communities," Sasse said on "Face the Nation" Sunday. 

In his new book "Them: Why We Hate Each Other — and How to Heal," Sasse argues that politics alone can't solve the country's problems. He said Sunday that the issues Americans are struggling with have been "decades in the coming" and aren't the fault of one specific figure or political ideology. 

"President Trump can't fix this. He didn't cause this. Politics can't fix this. Politics didn't cause this, but it's true that our political tribalism is filling that vacuum, that loneliness that's coming from all these other institutions," he said. "We have a decline of the nuclear family structure, a lot the last 25 years, and politics is a place people look to try to find meaning in the absence of these other communities that actually can make you happy."

Sasse said social media is partly responsible for the decline of a sense of community.

"It turns out if you go from 200 to 500 social media friends or 500 to 1000. You don't get happier. But if you know the neighbor who lives two doors away from you, statistically you're more likely to be happy," Sasse said. "We need to attend to those kind of things. It's a big deal."

A fix for the country's issues? Sasse suggests rediscovering "plural vocations."

"Work is statistically one of the most significant drivers of whether or not people are happy. And part of that is because we like to do stuff together. We like to have shared projects," said Sasse. 

He added that it was now the responsibility of politicians in Washington to explain to the American people that the days of "lifelong jobs" are gone.

"We shouldn't be lying to the American people about it. We should be thinking about what does it look like to help people get back to work, back to meaningful employment, back to shared labor with their neighbors when they're 35 and 40 and 45. We can't say, "I politician am going to protect your jobs forever." Because it's not true."

  • Emily Tillett

    Emily Tillett is a politics reporter and video editor for CBS News Digital