Is the lack of civility in American politics a reflection of a general lack of civility in America? How do we address this problem (if you see it as a problem)?

Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent-The lack of civility in American politics is a reflection of a general lack of civility in America and it does need to be addressed at the highest levels in both the Republican and Democrat parties.

Way too many political figures have failed to uphold the rule of law and have betrayed the citizenry they represent, and their actions and inactions have been allowed to spill over into society, which is   reflected in a large percentage of their constituents and the public in general.  People are mad, disillusioned and desperate for solutions to unsolvable problems, and incivility is a result of their anger and frustration with a political system gone awry.

In order to address the problem, the platforms of both political parties need to be revamped and revised to reflect the true meaning of civility and what it entails.  Current political modes of operation obviously allow and condone divisiveness, animosity, misconduct, improprieties, lying, bad manners, squabbles, accusations, and refusal to acknowledge and follow the requests and concerns of the American people. The sidestepping of major issues both at the domestic and international level has become a burden too great to bear for Americans and without a complete overhaul of the political system, problems associated with civility will continue to escalate.

When political parties are forced through pressure from voters to submit to reorganization, top leaders in both parties must be required to address civility as a major issue, assess what true civility entails and apply it to their platforms.  Experts in ethics and communication need to be brought into the picture as well to help offset the political mindset of the back and forth battle for power between the parties-a battle that has involved power rights, not stability.  In addition, both the Republican and Democrat National Committees must lay out the ground rules for the character and behavior of their current and future leaders.  They must be subject to detailed knowledge of the Constitution, strict adherence to the Constitution, rules of decorum, and allegiance to the citizens of America.

A neutral plan has to be developed to bring politicians together to represent and connect with the citizens they are elected to serve.  With national party ground rules, leaders in either party would be required through their party platforms to meet together and accept differing opinions, cut the bickering, hatred and recrimination and admit that there are merits in sound opinions and policies presented by the other side. They can agree to disagree, move on, compromise and accomplish the business of the people.

Other proposed changes should come in the form of term limits for both the House of Representatives and the Senate, and even the presidency should be under consideration for limited duration.  With short periods of service in the House and Senate, members would not be allowed to monopolize their positions, gain power, campaign and be influenced by interests other than the people of their respective states.  Members of both bodies should also be required to reside in their home states or districts to interact and get to know the people that have supported and voted for them.  Part of their terms of service should be major time spent in state with little time spent in Washington, D.C.

Civility can only be restored through the balance of political power, which can happen with the elections and appointments of those not only qualified but committed to the betterment of the country, which must include a strong bond of trust with their constituents.  Citizens have a responsibility to return to the values that promote and foster civility and must not allow politicians to destroy what belongs to them.  Those values must be shared and used as an example to others.  That’s what the founders intended over two hundred years ago and the same principles still apply today.

Sheffield, Jamaica Correspondent-If the head of the stream is dirty, the entire river will fare badly.  The same applies in life, especially with regards to the political affairs of the world.  Too many Americans lack civility as a consequence of mimicking what is exhibited on the political scenes.  A typical example: Donald Trump is out of control.  He says whatever comes to mind, without meditating on the repercussions.  He’s an angry, quarrelsome and impolite man.  Yet, that might not be the manner in which he portrays himself in his daily affairs, but that’s his disposition during his political campaigns.  Truly, many youths would love to possess what he has, and so they might idolize him, even imitating his impolite and rude ways. Clearly, as a consequence of American politics and the lack of civility therein, people are now reasoning that if politicians (who should know better) aren’t doing better, why should they? I see this as an issue.  One that needs to be corrected. American politics only teach division, discrimination, tactlessness and a lack of courtesy.  How can we address this problem?  Love.  Love will move these politicians to respect each other.  Love will move them to civility and warmth.  In turn, Americans will learn by example.

Gastonia, NC Correspondent-I firmly believe the wrestling match that has taken the place of our normal election process is a direct reflection of the death of civility in American culture, and I place the blame for that loss squarely on the shoulders of the Internet.

Human nature is by and large an ugly thing, kept in check only when we have time to stop and think a moment before we open our mouths or put pen to paper.  (For you youngsters, pen and paper used to be how we communicated with each other over long distances.  Ask your grampa.)  But now, thanks to the “comments” sections on online news stories, message boards, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and whatever else those with more words than brain cells are using to communicate these days, that deliberative process has been short-circuited.

Now, if you get halfway through a news story or editorial and come across something with which you don’t agree, you can just stop reading, scroll to the end and bang out your screed while the blinkered self-righteousness is still in full effect.  I’ve lost count of the number of comments I’ve read written by someone who quite obviously didn’t read to the end of the piece, and in fact there’s even a piece of Internet slang that indicates one didn’t bother: “tl/dr” (too long/didn’t read)

Think about that for a moment.  If, in conversation, someone said, “I know absolutely nothing about this issue, but I’m going to tell you what I think,” you’d be well justified in walking away.  However, thanks to the Internet, we’re exposed daily to such people.

Now translate that to what Donald Trump says about his foreign policy advisors.  He mumbled about talking to “people,” then brightened and stated firmly that he’d talk to himself, because he knows a lot of stuff about things.  This, boys and girls, is the man making a serious charge for the highest office in the most powerful country on Earth.  Is it any wonder the world community is greeting our current election cycle with a piquant mix of snickering and dread?

 

Owatonna, MN Correspondent-One definition of “civility” is “the formal politeness that results from observing social conventions.” I’m not sure that “formal” politeness is as important now as it may have been 100 years ago, but the phrase “observing social conventions” is the key to determining whether politics is reflecting a general lack of civility in America.

To me, social conventions consist of individuals acting in a non-aggressive, non-confrontational, respectful manner toward others, especially strangers, in a public setting.  As social conventions become increasingly casual and non-standard, individuals are left without clear guidance in terms of what are appropriate social conventions.  If parents or teachers don’t provide guidance, children grow up making their own rules based on what their peer groups adopts as acceptable behavior.  These rules tend to become more relaxed, informal, and impolite when no authority is present to insist on a standard of civil behavior.

If we carry this idea to politics, I posit the argument that since few people or groups have a vested interest in insisting on civility in politics, politicians as a group have realized that they can cross the line into incivility with little or no consequence.  Lying and making unkeepable promises has always been a hallmark of political campaigns.  Mudslinging and negative campaigning have become standard in recent decades.  Now it seems that name-calling, insults, and other boorish behavior are the next steps down into the abyss.

In this era of 24-hour news and depth of coverage that rarely goes beyond sound bites, politicians seem forced to speak and act in an uncivil manner because the more outrageous their behavior, the more news coverage they garner, which hopefully translates into more votes.  The poster boy for this behavior is currently Donald Trump.  Time will tell if he ushers in a new, even more, uncivil era of politics, or if he turns out to be just another outrageous news item that the media milk for all they can until the country stops paying attention.

I don’t see incivility in politics as a problem since neither the president nor Congress has much power.  The real power belongs to the so-called “one percent” of the wealth in this country.  This group hides behind all politicians in order to manipulate legislation and the media and, therefore, increase their wealth and power.  Until voters realize this and overthrow the political status quo, lack of civility in politics will be a mere sideshow, another form of reality television.

 

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