Tag Archives: civility

Civility isn’t dead after all!

For the past few years I have been presuming that collegiality and civility have died a slow, painful death, that they have been replaced by rancor and hatred for those with opposing points of view.

Then I read an editorial in the Dallas Morning News that told me to hold on, that it ain’t so.

The editorial talks about two justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett and Sonia Sotomayor, who spoke to the National Governors Association. They talked about how the justices can differ, but they do not see each other as enemies.

The editorial states, in part: Civility and compromise are values in our democracy that, as of late, are buried in bitter arguments or smothered in misinformation.

Barrett is a deeply conservative member of the high court; Sotomayor is an equally fervent progressive jurist. The editorial notes: “When we disagree, our pens are sharp. But on a personal level, we never translate that into our relationships with one another,” Sotomayor told the crowd at one event.

The DMN editorial takes particular note of the extraordinary friendship forged long ago by two justices, the late Antonin Scalia and the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Their friendship became a talking point around the country as to how people with widely divergent points of view can retain personal affection.

The editorial is posted here: Two Supreme Court justices are reminding us how to act like adults (dallasnews.com)

Barrett said: “We don’t speak in a hot way at our conferences,” Barrett said. “We don’t raise our voices no matter how hot-button the case is.”

I am heartened to hear the words of two jurists who have told the world what goes on behind closed doors at the nation’s highest court. May their secret be repeated in other governmental chambers — such as the Congress — where the principals do raise their voices and speak ill of each other.

Recalling a more civil time

I spend a good bit of time these days — when politics enters my noggin — thinking about how it used to be on the national stage.

I recently watched a YouTube video of a young U.S. senator-elect talking to David Letterman about his campaign for the Senate and how he didn’t run “negative ads.”

He lamented how the tone in 2004 had degenerated into what it became and he vowed to change it once he took office.

Barack Obama on His Multiracial Identity | Letterman – YouTube

Barack Obama didn’t succeed in changing the political tone. Indeed, he would have higher aspirations eventually and when he ascended to the presidency in 2009, he ran smack into a Republican obstruction machine operated by the GOP Senate leader, Mitch McConnell, who declared his intention would be to make Obama “a one-term president.”

It didn’t work out the way McConnell wanted … but that’s all right with me.

What also didn’t work out the way President Obama wanted was the tone of debate. It only worsened during his two terms in office and then it spiraled out of control when his successor got elected in 2016.

Who’s to shoulder the bulk of the blame? The current fire-breathers happen to be the MAGA cabal among congressional Republicans. I’ll go with that.

They need to be removed from the political stage. Which is what elections are designed to do. They are designed to cleanse the political system, to remove the toxicity from the fabric of our government. Will they do so in 2024? I damn sure hope so.

Then, perhaps, we can return to some semblance of civility where we can, as the young senator said prior to taking office in 2005, restore a climate where we can disagree over policy without condemning the other side.


‘Civility is gone’?

It took Joe Manchin a long time to state the obvious.

The West Virginia Democratic U.S. senator declared that “Civility is gone” after Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer criticized Senate Republicans over their obstruction of plans to increase the debt ceiling.

Spoiler alert, Sen. Manchin: Civility has been MIA for a long time on Capitol Hill.

‘Civility is gone’: Manchin slams Schumer broadside against GOP (msn.com)

A single tirade by Schumer doesn’t signal anything new regarding the state of play between the governing parties.

Manchin reportedly buried his face in his hands and then walked off the Senate floor on Thursday after Schumer unloaded on GOP caucus members.

Look, I wish we could rediscover civil discourse as much as the next guy. Yes, even as much as Sen. Manchin. However, the major culprit in killing political civility — to my way of thinking — happens to be the Republicans who have sought to obstruct rather than govern.


Hoping for return to civility

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

What do I wish at the end of this bizarre presidential campaign season?

A lot of things, to be candid. One of them happens to be a standard by which we don’t call attention to simple gestures that we used to take for granted.

Former President Obama wrote this on Twitter:

Michelle and I hope that the President, First Lady, and all those affected by the coronavirus around the country are getting the care they need and are on the path to a speedy recovery. Obviously, we’re in the midst of a big political battle right now, and while there’s a lot at stake, let’s remember that we’re all Americans. We’re all human beings. And we want everyone to be healthy, no matter our party.

Donald Trump’s hospitalization, along with first lady Melania Trump’s affliction with the COVID-19 virus, brings to mind the expressions of concern that have come from Joe Biden, among others. Then we have President Obama offering his own good wishes to the man who despises him.

This kind of once-common outreach has been plowed asunder by the venom, vitriol and venality of the past four years. It has sickened me beyond belief. Yes, I have been sucked into it at times and I do regret some of the hyper-angry rhetoric that has poured forth on this blog.

I want a return to civility. They call it “comity” in the halls of power. It’s just another word for civility and courtesy. There has been so little of it coming from the White House and, yes, from Capitol Hill.

Joe Biden spent 36 years in the Senate before becoming vice president during the Obama years. He says he wants to restore our national “soul.” Part of what has been missing from our political discourse has been the common touch of decency that used to be commonplace.

You’ll recall when the gunman opened fire in 2017 on Republican members of Congress practicing for the bipartisan baseball game. House GOP Whip Steve Scalise was nearly killed by the lunatic. When he returned to the House floor, all the members stood and applauded. Leading the applause was House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, who said in that moment “we were all Italian.”

One of many fond hopes I have for a Biden presidency if it comes to that after the election is that we can set aside the hatred and the view that our foes are our “enemies.”

Jeb calls for a return to ‘civility’ in political life … yes!

Jeb Bush has been in the fight for a long time. The former two-term Florida governor has had his share of wins and losses.

On Presidents Day, the Republican offered a wish for the country: a return to a more civil tone as politicians argue over policy matters.

Hmm. Yeah. Don’t you wish? I certainly do.

Bush, who lost to Donald Trump in the 2016 GOP presidential primary contest, laments the hostile tone we’re hearing these days from the president and others in the arena.

He noted something interesting about his late father, the 41st president, George H.W. Bush. According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: George H.W. Bush, he said, could have claimed credit when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. Instead, he stepped back and let the German people celebrate the accomplishment, he said of his father.

Try for just a moment to imagine how the 45th POTUS would handle such a monumental event. Imagine Donald Trump “stepping back” and letting “the German people celebrate the accomplishment.”

It wouldn’t happen, any more than one can expect a return to political civility for as long as Donald Trump is in the arena.

Still, Jeb Bush’s call is worth noting. It’s also worth wishing it can come true.

Yearning for a return to civility

I am a fan of civil political discourse, and of compromise when it can produce a common good, and of political adversaries remaining friends when the battle of the day has concluded.

Thus, I am yearning for a return — please pardon my borrowing a phrase coined by a former U.S. president — to a “kinder, gentler time” in American political life.

The late George H.W. Bush sought such a return when he took office in 1989. It was there, then it was gone.

It’s gotten much worse since Donald Trump entered political life in the summer of 2015. Indeed, he helped foment some of the intense anger even before then, feeding the Big Lie about President Barack Obama’s citizenship status, becoming the de facto godfather of the “birther” movement.

OK, he’s now the current president. The House of Representatives has impeached him. Trump is now getting ready to stand trial in the  Senate.

I won’t venture off the conventional wisdom trail here. I believe he will survive the trial. He will stay in office. Trump then will run for re-election and he will feed the intense anger that will continue to simmer and boil until Election Day 2020.

It’s my desire for a return to political civility, collegiality and comity that makes me yearn for his defeat next year. Trump has shown an unwillingness to bridge the divide among disparate Americans. Indeed, he seeks to widen it.

Thus, as he campaigns for re-election I fully expect the president to keep reminding us of the impeachment drama that is playing out at this moment. He will continue to hurl epithets at his foes. Trump will attach sophomoric nicknames to them. The president will seek to fuel the rage at the system that got him elected in the first place.

What if he wins? Oh, my! We’ll get four more years of practically everything I have just described. There likely will be a new wrinkle or three thrown in for good measure.

I’ll try to do my part to dial it back by refraining from some of the harsh rhetoric I have spouted in this forum since Trump crashed onto the political scene. Trump is a lead-pipe cinch, though, to test that pledge with what he is likely to say out loud over the course of the next year.

Take note: I haven’t hurled a single epithet at him in this post.

Hey, it’s a start. My hope springs eternal that we’ll be able to return sooner rather than later to a kinder, gentler political era.

Civility likely to require long-term rehab

If we look ahead for a moment to the November 2020 presidential election, then we need to ponder what I consider to be the worst possible outcome: the re-election of Donald John Trump.

The president might win a second term. What in the world is going to occur then? How will the next Congress deal with a president who labels Democrats to be everything short of spawns of Satan? He won’t work with Democrats because they are continuing to insist on searching for answers to that still-nagging Russia electoral interference issue.

For their part, Democrats won’t be pleased, either, with the prospect of working while Trump is still in office. How in the world will they react? Will they keep saying and doing things that sets Trump off on endless Twitter tirades?

Imagine the president traveling overseas after the 2020 election and behaving as he did at Normandy during the commemoration of the D-Day landings of June 1944. He sat in front of those 9,000 headstones where U.S. servicemen are buried and called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a “disaster.”

Just suppose, too, that Pelosi keeps her speakership after the 2020 election. How is she going to react to more verbal trashing from the president?

Oh, and then there’s the Senate, which might flip from Republican control to Democratic control.

Imagine that scenario, with Democrats possibly controlling both legislative chambers while Republicans keep possession of the keys to the White House.

Civility? It’s a goner. I continue to hope we can find it. Somewhere. Somehow.

It’s gone for as long as Donald Trump remains in an office for which he is totally unqualified … and I’ll say it again: for which he is unfit.

2019 won’t see a return of civility

Civility and Politics Political Cartoon

Only the most naïve Pollyanna who ever lived is going to hold out hope that the new year, the new Congress and the looming presidential election is going to signal a return of political civility.

It ain’t gonna happen, man. You don’t need me to tell you the obvious.

Democrats who took control of the U.S. House of Representatives are loaded for bear. The president of the United States, who has hurled insults the way he might toss pebbles into a pond, has opened himself up to an aura of recrimination. Democrats are in no mood to go easy on Donald Trump. The subpoenas will be flying out of committee chairs’ offices quite soon.

A brand new House member has tossed an f-bomb at Trump, declaring the Democrats’ intent — she says — to impeach him.

The government is partially shut down because Trump wants $5 billion to build The Wall along our southern border. He’s accusing Democrats and the handful of Republicans who oppose The Wall of being for “open borders” and for coddling illegal immigrants at the expense of protecting Americans from the hordes of murderers, rapists, drug dealers and human traffickers he says are pouring into this country.

Is this how you make America great again? Is this how you unify a divided nation? Is this how you reach out to those who voted against you, and in Donald Trump’s case that’s more of them than those who voted for him?

I have tried to hold out a flicker of hope for a return to more civility. That hope is all but extinguished. The flicker has been blown out by all the angry hot air that’s been expelled by politicians who call their opponents “the enemy” or “evil” or any other vicious epithet you can imagine.

My hope once sprang eternal. No more.

Obama speaks fundamental truth about a statesman

I feel the need as the year winds down to share with you this video of Barack H. Obama eulogizing the late John S. McCain.

It’s about 19 minutes long. You need to set aside some time to watch it. I am gripped and saddened by the unspoken truth that the former president speaks about his former rival and how it reflects on the present day.

President Obama speaks at length about the differences he and Sen. McCain had between them. He speaks of when the two of them would meet in the Oval Office just to chat, “about policy . . . and about family.”

He tells us that even though the two of them held profoundly different world views that they both understood that “we are on the same team.”

I want to bring this to your attention yet again just to remind us all of what is missing in today’s discourse. The current president and many of our congressional leaders cannot seem to accept that they, too, are supposed to be on the same team. Have you heard Donald J. Trump say anything remotely like that? Or, for that matter, have you heard it from many of his foes on Capitol Hill?

The poison that has infected the current climate needs to be cleansed, wiped away. Will it disappear any time soon? Not likely.

I just hope there’s a residual sense of what Barack Obama recalled about John McCain left that it can someday be revived and returned.

Civility needs a boost after hours

I have taken my share of shots at U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over the years. I dislike the Republican’s obstructionism, his policies, the way he runs the Senate, his partisanship … whatever.

However, he did not deserve to be harangued, harassed and hassled while he was dining with his wife in a Louisville, Ky., restaurant.

In the name of political civility, why cannot we let these public officials — even those in leadership positions — enjoy some private time with their loved ones?

McConnell was called a “traitor.” Other diners clapped. Yet another bystander reportedly grabbed the senator’s to-go box and dumped its contents on the sidewalk.

This kind of thing has been happening of late. I find it unacceptable.

Keep it civil

Look, I’ve been railing against the lack of civility in our public discourse. This kind of activity against congressional leaders — mostly against Republican leaders — runs totally counter to those of us out here who bemoan this uncivil behavior.

I will post this commentary on my blog, which then will appear on social media platforms. Some friends of mine — notably those on the left/progressive side — are going to take umbrage at my comments.

They might say that “this is war” in the current public political debate. To which I’ll respond: No … it isn’t “war”; those of us who’ve been to war know the difference between the real thing and a political disagreement.

Mitch McConnell and his wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, did not deserve to be treated so shabbily. If we are going to lament the lack of civility in our current political climate, then many of us need to start behaving in a manner that promotes it.

I will keep calling for a more civil discussion for as long as I am able. What happened to Sen. McConnell and his wife is counterproductive in the extreme.

Those who want change in Washington can act in a different manner. They can vote.