The absence of civility in American politics is nothing new. By the time of Abraham Lincoln’s election in 1860, the American party system had broken down over the issue of slavery. Our politics throughout the 1850s and 60’s was rife; but the root cause of the Civil War was slavery, not incivility.

Americans’ hostility toward each other is not exclusive to the 19th century. Unemployment and low wages during the Great Depression made farmers want to “shoot the banker,” while others yearned for a “revolution” to displace greedy capitalists.

Today’s Republicans are taking it to new heights. Just the other day I read that a candidate in a non-partisan race in Montana “couldn’t get a job at Dairy Queen.” This is a slap in the face to working class people who rely on these jobs to put food on the table. When did the GOP start hating the working class? Why should working class people support a party that uses their employment as a way of degrading others trying to take a stand for their best interests?

Watching uncivil debates and believing unimaginative attacks actually lowers trust in government and also causes viewers to find opposing viewpoints less credible. This behavior is what is tearing our country apart.

A recent PBS poll showed that 79% of Americans said they are concerned or very concerned that the negative tone of national politics will prompt violence. These numbers prove the concern is prominent across the political spectrum.

If we can listen to each other with humility and praise accomplishments, rather than attack them and side with country rather party the American experience and dream will enrich us to become better people and ultimately make America great again. 

Andy Boyd

Bozeman