Nudging News Producers and Consumers Toward More Thoughtful, Less Polarized Discourse

We appreciate the seven recommendations for new producers and consumers put forth by Darrell West and Beth Stone of Brookings that, if followed, would lead to news consumers being better able to understand the implications of policy generally and personally. Better information when combined with a willingness to understand that information is a powerful means to more thoughtful, meaningful discourse and, consequently, better decisions.

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Restoring Civility

Recently, Thomas J. Donohue, CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, gave an important speech about restoring civility. His remarks are important:

. . . Most of our rights in a free society also carry responsibilities. This is especially true when it comes to speech. I strongly believe that the right to speak carries with it the responsibility to listen. . . to give others a fair hearing . . . to be open to different points of views. In my view, it’s the stubborn refusal to listen that is the cause of much of the incivility and dysfunction we see in Washington and across our country today. Restoring civility in American life must begin by reaffirming our commitment to everyone’s right to speak — and everyone’s responsibility to listen. . .

What Obama and the Tea Party Have in Common

George Will makes an important point about the critical difference between a parliamentary democracy and our system that puts in place structures to protect the rights of the minority — in this case, the Senate conservatives.

Whether you agreed with Ted Cruz or not, he was exercising a very important, albeit messy, constitutional right to express a minority view. Liberals should take note, because this is a right they may need the next time around. George Will is pointing out something really hopeful about our system, which seems dysfunctional at the moment: people don’t reach for common ground because they want to — but because they have to. We just aren’t very good at it right now. That is why there is the Common Ground Committee. org, to shine the light on efforts to do this that are successful. This gives Americans hope, which is critical to regaining faith in democracy — so badly needed these days.

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An imam and pastor spread tolerance

Sometimes common ground is actually not the right goal. Rather, bringing about tolerance and understanding among those of opposing views is the place to focus because how people view those that differ rather than the differences themselves is the problem. These two gentlemen found common ground in the need to address exactly that problem. Our political leaders in the US, for sure, need to find common ground on the challenging issues the nation faces. But they would be well served to also take a page out of the book being written by Mr. Wuye and Mr. Ashafa and work on finding, demonstrating and promoting the respect necessary for working together. Read the article

The Groundswell for Increased Civility

The politesse movement to get more civility into our contentious public debates is not about being “nice.” It’s about getting some long overdue work done. Read more