Does incivility serve some purpose? If a situation persists, however perplexing, it must serve a function. What might it be?
We have what appears to be a contradictory situation. Politicians, political elites, and party activists are increasingly polarized, moving farther apart from one another. Yet public opinion polls clearly show that Americans loathe the divisiveness. And, the values of most Americans are not polarized. There is widespread agreement among Americans, which means our polarizing politicians are becoming less and less representative of our actual views.
Yet the culture of incivility persists. Why? Could it be that incivility is fun? I don’t mean to be facetious. We don’t throw out the divisive elements from Congress. So, at some level, we must want them there. Perhaps verbal duels have replaced the lethal pistol duels that used to take place between political adversaries. Does incivility make for high quality reality TV?
Incivility is certainly an easy way to make a career in politics. Rather than developing an educated and nuanced view, a candidate only has to take sides and deliver the scripted rhetoric. It’s a convenient shortcut to a political career.
What do you think? Is incivility simply fun?
Is there a way to stop enjoying it so much?
Please, “Comment” below.
(Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an online experiment in civil dialogue on American values.)