Civility in America
Return to What You Shoul Know About


In the Beginning Politics Lacked Civility

Federalists painted Jefferson "a crafty, fanatical, “contemptible hypocrite.”
and attacked his moral character, alleging he was an atheist and
a coward during the revolution.

"Callender...a political hack." exposed
Hamilton's affair with married Maria Reynolds
whose husband colluded in the seduction.
Blackmail and rumors of financial improprieties led some lawmakers to investigate but
Congressman William Branch Gail of Virginia eventually excluded that the President fire Hamilton
 but even this leaser resolution did not pass.
 Federalist felt this was a partisan attack.
Hamilton was privately frustrate and felt the House was made-up of ...
"1 bank directors 2. Holders of bank stock 3. Stock jobbers 4. Blind devotees
5. ignorant persons who did not comprehend [the resolutions]
6. Lazy and Good-humored persons...." p286

U.S. Civility Improved

Adolph Ochs bought the NYT in 1898 and responded to his many Yellow Journalism
 competitors with
the campaign
"All The News That's Fit To Print."
More congenial media
lasted 100 years.


Civility Declined
 in 1987 when Ronald Reagan's FCC eliminated the Fairness Doctrine.
Opposing sides reporting no longer required.
Soon Rush Limbaugh, who had popularized conservative talk radio, had few restrictions.

Talk Radio and Identity Politics Flourished.

Increased Political Contributions
occurred when
Citizens United v. FEC increased money available
 for sponsoring new sources of both
intended and unintended Fake News.

Trash Talking Went Public in Sports

when Mohamed Ali practically invented this
 early 1960's genre as a boastfully Cassius Clay.
Athlete interviews had been formal, cordial, and boring.
Ali changed everything with his elite out-of-ring talk—
which was rivaled only by his in-ring dominance.

Larry Bird
and others soon followed suit.

Banning Earmarks in 2011 increased polarization
as cooperation to “bring home the bacon” ended. source

See Avoiding Effects Of Groupthink



Many Affected

 U.S. Supreme Court Job Approval Ties Record Low

Trend: Do you approve or disapprove of the way the Supreme Court is handling its job?

It's Political

Trend: Supreme Court Job Approval, by Political Party


Individual Behavior Norms Are Expanding



Legality of Behavior Norms Also Up




Attitude Toward Abortion Unchanged

Public views of abortion: 1995-2018


It's About Relegion



It's a Personal Liberty and Relegious Liberty

There is a substantial partisan and ideological divide on abortion, with Democrats much more likely than Republicans to say it should be legal in all or most cases. This gap is even larger between liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans: Nearly nine-in-ten liberal Democrats (88%) say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, compared with only about three-in-ten self-described conservatives in the GOP (27%)



Some Feel

Roe v. Wade Poisoned Our Politics

Michael Barone

New York Post

Today’s “partisan chaos” is a direct result of Roe v. Wade, said Michael Barone. The all-out war over Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court would not be so heated if people on both sides didn’t think Roe might be at stake.

In 1973, 16 states with 41 percent of the nation’s population had already liberalized their abortion laws, and America would have had different laws in different regions, depending on the democratic process. But then seven justices delivered “an unusually sweeping” ruling that made abortion legal in almost all circumstances—and the country’s defining wedge issue.

While public opinion on cultural issues like same-sex marriage has shifted markedly this century, “opinion on abortion has scarcely budged.”

It’s hard to win converts on such a fundamentally moral issue about “the way people live their lives”: Pro-choicers, who are largely secular, think their “personal autonomy” is at stake, whereas pro-lifers, who are mostly religious, believe abortion amounts to “extinguishing human lives.”

Rather than settle the abortion debate, Roe inflamed it because neither side believes it can afford any compromise. As a direct result, every Supreme Court nominee battle has literally become a matter of life and death.






Engagement with “Fake News” on Facebook is Declining
The National Bureau of Economic Resources measured the diffusion of fake news stories on Facebook and Twitter between 1/15 and 7/18.
False content rose steadily on both Facebook and Twitter through the end of 2016 but dropped by  measurably from Facebook but not for twitter.