This post is part of an ongoing series that highlights discourse about civility from around the Web. We glean the links in this segment from as broad a cross-section as we can manage of blogs, newspapers, magazines, and other online venues, from the United States and around the world.
This week’s links include two calls for civility from the state of Tennessee, a call for humility — not civility — from Minnesota, a conservative perspective on civility and civic engagement, and a discussion of the civility situation in Australian politics, and the creeping allure of political polarization.
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Now — the list:
One of the reasons people do not engage in political dialogue is not just the lack of information; they’re turned off by the negative intensity of what passes as political talk in today’s coarse cultural landscape. Talk shows thrive on conflict; the greater the conflict, the more people listen. It’s the motivated and involved that write the reactions to the columns you read, but they often do so quickly without taking time to soften their choice of words or better formulate their criticism.
Leaders of all parties must tolerate climates in which party members can question them. This is especially true for an opposition after a decisive election result. Political scientists say moderate members generally do better in marginal electorates. This means strong defeat is more likely to push an opposition party further left or right as members from safe seats are often more extreme, because they do not have to appeal to the broader middle.
And by moderation, I mean a respect for the centre, for civility, for reason, for robust and free debate, and for opponents – and, in Australia today, a commitment to human rights. A healthy respect for moderation would surely ensure a more healthy respect for our Parliament, which all politicians crave.
My purpose in speaking up is not to embarrass or chastise anyone. I love Clarksville and I love serving our community. I simply want us to be able to put the petty stuff aside, move forward, and deal with the big issues that face a growing city like ours.
Civility’s Overrated. Humility, On the Other Hand …
Editorial, posted at TwinCities.com, June 26, 2013
We’re not even calling for civility.
There’s nothing wrong with disagreement. It’s essential, in fact. We elect our leaders to express their beliefs and hold to them passionately when judgment says they must. Anger and raised voices can be part of the give-and-take that makes better public policy.
We should, though, expect a bit of humility from those in the public realm — along with some insight on what’s appropriate, and what’s not.
It may be a stretch for us to love each other, given our different backgrounds and philosophies. But we can certainly extend respect to every member of this chamber. We can demonstrate to the people in our districts that differences can be settled peaceably. Because we are so often in the spotlight we can become role models for a gentler method of resolving conflicts. Now let us proceed with our important work.