Politics Is Uncivil

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Has all political decorum, all spirit of civility abandoned our government? It's a question that has been incessantly posed since the earliest days of the republic, when George Washington worried that the "ill-founded jealousies and false alarms" of partisanship would wound the young nation's politics. The latest people to muse on the topic are ABC News correspondents Jonathan Karl and Gregory Simmons, who wonder if political civility has "reached a new low" in the halls of government.

While the bulk of their article consists of salacious bits of anecdote (notably when Al Franken is called out for muttering under his breath at Mitch McConnell speech, and, of course, when Dick Cheney tells Patrick Leahy to F*** himself), the most interesting tidbit the article dredges up comes from the stark results of the Civility Project:

Seeking to restore [decorum], the bipartisan Civility Project sent letters to every member of Congress and each governor -- 535 in all -- asking them to sign a pledge to be civil. Two months later, only one, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) has agreed.

Those results may not be comforting to those hoping to temper pervasive partisan rancor, but they are, at least, further evidence that online petitions are extremely ineffective.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.