David Gray Adler has penned a fine essay about "too much yelling" that I hope all who comment on this site will read and heed.
If I could, I would make Adler's insights required reading, in hopes he appeals to the professed patriotism of some who seem to think poisonous rhetoric contributes to self-governance. I'll admit it: I'm disheartened by the name-calling and off-the-topic attacks and I think Dr. Adler's prescriptions may help.
Adler, a presidential scholar, is the Cecil D. Andrus Professor of Public Affairs at Boise State. He also has taught at Idaho State and the University of Idaho.
"Presidential Power, government accountability and the challenges of an informed — or uninformed — electorate," appears in the summer newsletter of the Idaho Humanities Council.
Adler summarizes the constitutional origins of shared powers, the rise of presidential authority and the decline of the civic engagement critical to making the republic function as the Founders intended.
Adler discusses the Tea Party and Occupy movements, both aiming to "take back our government" and "restore our Constitution," but says incivility undermines their efforts.
"But while the intentions and motives have been laudable there has been a general lament about the quality of civic dialogue, in particular, an absence of civility, which undermines influence and deters growth in the numbers of those who would engage in protest," writes Alder. "In recent years, frankly, the quality of public debate has been disappointing. As a nation, we have witnessed too much yelling, too much incivility, and too much demagoguery."
Adler offers "five modest suggestions to improve the quality of our civil discourse."
Here they are:
1. Stop Political Labeling.
3. Citizens Must Be Fair To One Another.
4. Avoid the Politics of Destruction.
5. Avoid Ideological Rigidity.
Please, follow the link and read Adler's thoughts. They begin on Page 1, at the top left on the PDF, and jump to Pages 4, 5 and 12.
My birthday's next week. A very nice gift would be a resolution on the part of contributors to this blog to carefully consider the thinking of one of Idaho's most distinguished scholars. You've been paying his salary for years; take a look at what you're getting for your money.
You can follow Idaho Statesman Politics on Twitter.