Political Discourse in America
January 7 is the 14th anniversary of the beginning of President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial in the U-S Senate. He was the first president to be impeached by the House since Andrew Johnson in 1868. It was a major political development dissected, moment by moment, by 24 hour news channels and talk radio. Politicians and pundits alike spoke in ever coarser tones about the issues surrounding the trial. And our political discourse hasn’t exactly improved since then. In fact, we saw moments when the major players in the so-called fiscal cliff negotiations, just over the last week or two, struggled to communicate effectively with one another. We’ll consider what it might take to raise the level of discourse in our politics – and whether major issues and ideas can be debated thoughtfully and respectfully by people with wildly divergent views. We’ll also explore what led to the coarsening of our political discourse particularly in the last 20 years, and whether our perception that it was more respectful in the past is really true.