“The tone of certitude on the issues and the dehumanization of opponents are not only unproductive but dangerous.”
“Talking in pejorative sound bites like ‘Obamacare’ rather than debating the issues has replaced any sort of semblance of civil political discourse.”
“Way too many conspiracy theories, and not enough responsible people to denounce them.”
“While the fact is that a lot of important work was done last session—all of which required some bipartisan cooperation—the nature of the public debate on serious issues of the day is more shrill than meaningful.”
“Emotional political rhetoric has been constant through history, but the difference is today’s accessibility to guns and the disposition to use them against politicians.”
“The right wing asserts that mainstream Democrats are attempting to subvert the country for proposing matters that Republicans recently proposed themselves. Political discourse is degraded and
the future of the country threatened.”
“Many of us have been threatened with assassination!”
“The quality of that discourse is uneven these days.”
How would you characterize the quality of political discourse these days?
Republicans (30 votes)
Better, improving (volunteered): 7%
Why ask (volunteered): 3%
“The quality will continue to increase as the public becomes more involved and better able to see through the demagoguery.”
“But better than it was in the violent and polarized era of the civil-rights movement, Vietnam, and Watergate.”
“It is good when the public is engaged and debating public policy. But unfortunately, both sides are guilty of manipulating the debate and twisting the facts to the detriment of a curious public.”
“It lacks civility and is much more emotional, and deteriorates into personal attacks and insults far more often than not.”
“We live in a reality-TV world that is fueled by a news cycle driven by online content that changes multiple times a day. Power is linked to visibility, and the only way to get visible is to say something controversial or outrageous.”
“No matter what side of the aisle you’re on, you hear lots of heightened rhetoric from people.”
“People aren’t calling the president a Nazi or putting up signs that say ‘Bush lied.’ On a congressional level, it’s no better, no worse than times past.”
“I can’t resist asking: What does this question have to do with the Arizona shooting? The motivations of the mentally ill shooter are yet unknown, except, of course, to the ‘I-haven’t-talked-to-the-shooter-but-am-certain-the-tea-party-is-to-blame’ sheriff of Pima County. Shouldn’t we get the facts—just a few—before we focus on political discourse as the cause?”
Democratic Congressional Insiders Sens. Sherrod Brown, Ben Cardin, Thomas Carper, Frank Lautenberg, Barbara Mikulski, Mark Pryor, Jon Tester, Tom Udall, Mark Warner; Reps. Jason Altmire, Robert Andrews, Tammy Baldwin, Xavier Becerra, Howard Berman, Lois Capps, Michael Capuano, Dennis Cardoza, James Clyburn, Gerry Connolly , Jim Cooper, Joseph Crowley, Elijah Cummings, Diana DeGette, Rosa DeLauro, Eliot Engel, Anna Eshoo, Sam Farr, Chaka Fattah, Bob Filner, Alcee Hastings, Rush Holt, Mike Honda, Steve Israel, Jim Langevin, John Lewis, Zoe Lofgren, Nita Lowey, Carolyn Maloney, Ed Markey, Jim McDermott, Jim McGovern, Jim Moran, Gary Peters, Collin Peterson, David Price, Silvestre Reyes, Linda Sanchez, Jan Schakowsky, Allyson Schwartz, Jose Serrano, Adam Smith, Pete Stark, Bennie Thompson, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Henry Waxman, Peter Welch, and Frederica Wilson.
GOP Congressional Insiders Sens. Lamar Alexander, John Cornyn, Jim DeMint, John Ensign, Lindsey Graham, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Johnny Isakson, Richard Lugar, Jeff Sessions, Olympia Snowe, John Thune, David Vitter; Reps. Michele Bachmann, Brian Bilbray, Marsha Blackburn, John Boehner, Charles Boustany, Kevin Brady, John Campbell, Eric Cantor, John Carter, Tom Cole, Mike Conaway, Charlie Dent, David Dreier, Jo Ann Emerson, Jeff Flake, Scott Garrett, Bob Goodlatte,Kay Granger, Doc Hastings, Darrell Issa, Peter King, Jack Kingston, John Kline, Christopher Lee, Dan Lungren, Kenny Marchant, Kevin McCarthy, Patrick McHenry, John Mica, Candice Miller, Sue Myrick, Devin Nunes, Mike Pence, Tom Price, Dave Reichert, Mike Rogers of Michigan, Phil Roe, Paul Ryan, Aaron Schock, Pete Sessions, Adrian Smith, Pat Tiberi, Fred Upton, Daniel Webster, and Joe Wilson.
This article appears in the Jan. 15, 2011, edition of National Journal.