Our most recent event featuring Scott Widmeyer, Frank Sesno, Kelly Johnston, and Robert Fersh, focused on addressing how to talk about politics in a way that does not give way to anger, and trying to have a more civil and respectable conversation with people of differing viewpoints.
All speakers agreed that we are in a more uncivil political climate today, in a different way than we have been before. The speakers talked of the change in media coverage from being simply about facts to a partisan coverage about political events occurring. The good and bad influences that social media has had on this climate, giving more people the ability to express their opinions while the anonymity of social media has led to more uncivil discussion. They talked of the changes that are perpetuating and magnifying these effects that we are experiencing in politics today, elite practices, money-driven politics, and citizen disengagement with politics.
Not only did the speakers touch upon what causes incivility but also what we can do to fix it, and the steps that we can take to minimize these effects and move in the direction of civility. If there continues to be no action by elites and citizens on this rising issue, there will be no progress in politics. All Americans regardless of their political ideology should practice civility. The role of money in politics has also created a disconnect between politicians and their constituents, which makes things difficult for citizens, to feel as if their voices are being heard, and the elite who no longer hear the voices of their constituents. It is the fault of both elites and the people of the United States for this uncivil climate, both sides need to address their role in incivility and do what they can to remedy the situation.
Some solutions the panel suggested regarding today’s incivility included utilizing a ‘green’ checkmark on Twitter to indicate that the user utilizes civility when engaging on Social
Media, as someone that can be relied on to use only civil language. Another solution the panelists suggested was talking to people that don’t share the same opinion as you do! The easiest way to understand where someone comes from and why they possess the ideas that they do is to listen to why they have those opinions. You don’t have to agree with these individuals but understanding them could go a long way in helping with becoming more civil with one another. It’s easier than we think it is to make change, we get disillusioned of the system that we have in the United States, but if there is a push from the American people for politicians to make a change (both with campaign finance reform and civility in politics), that change will happen. A satiation that occurred at the event itself was an outstanding example of the importance of civility and communication.
Towards the end of the event, a man upset about the comments made about President Donald Trump stood up and expressed his displeasure at the opinion that one of the panelists stated. What was talked about can expressly be applied to the situation that occurred. You have two men that disagree on something, and while you can be upset about these differing opinions, it’s necessary to respect the opinion that is different from your own. Part of what we are experiencing today lies in the idea that one person’s beliefs are superior to others. Everyone will see their opinion in that way, and it is our job to understand why other people feel the same intensity of rightness about situations, people, and politics while at the same time those opinions don’t match. In order to make progress, we must understand where other people are coming from and make strides to respect (even though we don’t always agree with) other people’s feelings and opinions.