Whatever happened to civil discourse?

My state of Colorado has found itself in the unenviable position of being a battleground state this year.  For the last six months or so, we have been assailed from every direction by attack ads that are getting increasingly ugly with each passing day.  When I say “every direction”, it isn’t just the usual suspects like TV ads, phone calls, and pollsters knocking on the door (although it has been all of those, in horrifying abundance).  Unfortunately, our politicians have manufactured enough of a clue to turn my beloved technology against me.  Now in addition to the traditional forms of media, I get political ads on Facebook (nonstop), Twitter, YouTube, Hulu… about the only bastion left untouched by political ads has been Netflix.  I would give anything for a device that allowed me to scan my completed mail-in ballot to turn off the stream of election-related advertisements and propaganda.  Anyone that creates such a device has a million-dollar idea on their hands!

The interesting thing is the lack of civility this year.  In years past, I remember strong disagreement but most of those advertisements and brochures took a fairly factual approach.  Not so this election year.  Instead, each advertisement has ominous music, damning sound-bytes from each candidate, opposing advertisements accusing each side of flat-out lying… it’s just ugly.  In this mix is a large amount of attack ads that focus on running down a certain candidate for being “anti-woman”, “anti-choice”, or accusing the person of the egregious concept of wanting to overturn Roe v. Wade.  When our mail-in ballots arrived a few days ago, my wife and I voted for the pro-life candidates being accused in these ads.   I find it very amusing how badly the attack ads backfired, and I hope other people are feeling (and voting!) the same way.

My point in all of this is that I would rather see civility return to the political discourse in our country.  It is possible to disagree with someone without resorting to the underhanded, sensationalist means that gripped this election year.  The Knights of Columbus (of which I am a proud member) has created an online petition to call for this very thing: Civility in America.  It may well be too late for this election cycle, but this idea is a sound one… stand up and call for our politicians to behave in a more civil way and focus on issues and policies and not individual attacks and mudslinging.

Head on over to the Civility in America site and sign the petition today, and don’t forget to vote this year!

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