Quora Question: How can US politics become less acrimonious?
I think there are several components to this very good question. It may be that many of these will have to be addressed together before any real progress can be made. However, even if the political climate can be improved we must always remember that what is at issue are deeply held and divergent views about how life ought to be lived so a certain amount of acrimony will probably always be present.
Having said that here are a few of the components that, in my opinion as a philosopher and educator, need to be addressed.
Individual knowledge: The basic principles of government and economics are necessary to any well-informed political discourse and these basics are sorely lacking. Whether or not school curricula can be improved to address this problem, ultimately, individuals need to begin to recognize that they are responsible for their own education in these areas. Individuals need to read the central documents of American political literature including the Constitution, the Federalist Papers, the Anti-Federalist writings, and other relevant documents.
Individual discourse: The basic principles of good dialogue are also required in order improve our politics. Not only does that include some basic principles of reasoning and the ability to recognize logical fallacies, but as important, is the ability to engage in civil discourse. This video outlines a good way to do this:
Take "the Other" to lunch
Political Pressure: Having laid a foundation of individual knowledge and discourse it will then be possible to bring political pressure to bear on elected officials. One effective tactic is to give no attention to political demagogues; simply don’t show up at their events. Cut off their “oxygen supply,” so to speak. Encourage others to do this. For well-educated voters, this should be an easy tactic.
Join together: Political action can be more effective when individuals join together. There is nothing inherently wrong with lobbying government through interest groups. If you don’t like the message that a particular interest group is promoting, join or create another to get the counter message out.
Discourage gratuitous partisanship: There will always be partisanship but it should be possible to discourage partisanship for the sake of partisanship. One possible group which can help with this is called No Labels: Stop Fighting. Start Fixing.
Finally, remember that people of goodwill are going to disagree about political issues. That makes them human, not evil. Not everyone will agree with your political outline. Let’s learn to listen, learn, and engage with the process.
Urban Confessional: A free listening project might be another good resource.
KEVIN J. BROWNE
Philosopher / Educator