Robert Alexander at RealClearPolitics:

In order to move beyond this “polarization pandemic,” we must start with civility. Our politicians must set a better example for all of us. Tolerance is a key feature of healthy democracies and is most likely to prevail when people of different backgrounds, ideas, and experiences talk to one another and get to know one another. When we see people as people and not as “the other,” we are far more tolerant, cooperative, and respectful of each other. We need fewer silos and more playing fields where more Americans can engage with one another.  


Research experiments by scholars James Fishkin and Larry Diamond on “deliberative democracy” show great promise. They find that when members of different parties are encouraged to get to know one another and are informed on issues from multiple perspectives, their opinions often soften and they view one another more positively.  


Creating deliberative democracy opportunities throughout the country would be an excellent means to stem our current toxic political environment. Such an investment in our civic infrastructure is warranted and should be embraced by all who are concerned about the future of the country. It is my hope that students of the future expect much more civility from our politicians than what currently exists. Our civic health depends on it.