Author: Robert McLeod

In Defense of Decency

Contemporary political discourse seems to be largely consumed, if not deranged, by our endless culture war. Many of us recoil at the daily skirmishes, even as we hunt for our next fix of outrage. Through our dismay, we might yearn for a distant future in which disagreements are more civilized and decent people of all stripes can work together to solve society’s challenges. It’s tempting to imagine that only zealots could disagree with such anodyne ideals. And indeed, nearly 80 percent of Americans are disturbed by the lack of civility in politics. But a glance at Twitter paints a more dispiriting picture. Within this bizarre simulacrum of society, hostility towards high-minded ideals like civility is not limited to the fringe—at least not the fringe as we tend to conceive of it. Instead, for some mainstream journalists and activists, a politician’s history of civility with adversaries can amount to a stain on his record. This mindset seems to be informed by a fear that engaging the “enemy” with decency betrays weakness or disloyalty to the cause. Such failures are …