Civility in Politics

April 9, 2010 | NeW Staff

Today I stumbled across a column in The Washington Post I found particularly interesting.  Author Michael Gerson argues,

The most basic test of democracy is not what people do when they win; it is what people do when they lose. Citizens bring their deepest passions to a public debate — convictions they regard as morally self-evident…Democracy means the possibility of failure.  While no democratic judgment is final — and citizens should continue to work to advance their ideals — respecting the temporary outcome of a democratic process is the definition of political maturity.”

I found this argument, while not new, very insightful.  In the midst of the ongoing health care debate and economic turmoil, it’s an important thought to keep in mind.  Resorting to extreme actions often causes one to lose sight of the actual issues at hand.  Not only are the issues lost in such a situation, Gerson further argues this is a sign of democratic decline.

Is there any historical context for Gerson’s claims?  What events come to your mind?

It’s a worthy notion to encourage civility in politics.  However, theparty in the majority will use civility as a political tool to deflectcriticism and avoid debate which also serves little purpose.  Unfortunately, both sides of the aisle have a poor track record in this area and it seems that a change in culture and attitude is the only way to bring about true civility in politics, an admittedly difficult change to manage. 

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