A much needed dose of civility
Incivility in the political arena in The United States of America has been around since our nation was founded. At its least there were political cartoons smearing elected officials, at its worst men have shed blood in the case of the famous duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton. In the 236 years since, little has changed. Both Republicans and Democrats take any opportunity they can get to ruin the other party’s credibility. The prevalent example of this is during campaign seasons when donors to the campaign will pay for ad space on television with the specific goal of tarnishing whoever they are opposing. I believe I speak for a majority of the American people that there needs to be a change.
Political incivility doesn’t just ruin the public’s perception of politicians it is also a colossal waste of money. According to The New York Times the Republican super PAC “Restore Our Future” raised a grand total $142,655,346, 90 percent of which was spent on attack ads while a Democrat super PAC “Priorities USA Action” raised a grand total of $66,482,084 with 100 percent spent on attack ads. I personally feel that this money could be used elsewhere for a greater purpose. Another example of incivility is perpetuated though the mass media. Two of the greatest “offenders” in the eyes of the public are Fox News and MSNBC. Both devote an obscene amount of time blowing seemingly insignificant events out of proportion. One example of this is how the suffix “gate” is attached to supposed scandals, recently after former Secretary of Defense Hillary Clinton suffered a fainting spell many called it “concussiongate” claiming she used it as an excuse to avoid testifying about the Benghazi incident.
What can the possible end result of all this quarreling back and forth be? Many would be soothsayers want this to be the end of the modern two party system if not the government in general, but as I have stated earlier incivility has been around since before we were born and will continue long after we have left. I believe the American people will become more dissatisfied with their elected officials more so than they already are. I often hear a fellow citizen tell me “what’s the point in voting. It’s not like my vote matters in the first place.” It saddens me in many ways as I feel voting is the greatest right we as American citizens can exercise. Countless scores of Americans have died on battlefields thousands of miles away to guarantee we can still have this right. This is why I believe already dismal turnout rates for elections will continue to fall. Another effect this will have on the citizens of the United States is it will add to the lack of interest that is already prevalent today. Often have I heard people say they have voted for someone just because the name sounded nice or they wrote in Chuck Norris because they thought it would be funny. And these attack ads that we all loathe will only continue to get worse for when we forget to have respect for our opponent is when we truly become despicable.
My solution for the problem is simple. We bring civility back to where we need it most. I’m not saying all elected officials are uncivil, but the ones who stand out are most often the loudest drowning out the other. This wouldn’t mean an end to debate it would just mean an end to the senseless arguing.
Why stop there? We should not only look at Capitol Hill, but also at ourselves. If we took time out of our day to treat everyone we came in contact with decency and respect it could go a long way.