Data from a recent Pew Center poll suggest that political differences are creating a great divide in American society. Indeed, differences over partisan politics are even stronger than those based on race, class, and education. The area of greatest disagreement is over the role of government – voters are fundamentally divided about what government should do and how well it is achieving its goals.
Mark DeMoss, concerned about the increasingly harsh tone of public discourse, launched the Civility Project in January 2009. The Republican businessman and political adviser enlisted Democratic lobbyist and former Clinton aide Lanny Davis to help him. Together the two friends wrote to all 100 United States Senators, all 435 members of the House of Representatives, and all 50 state governors, asking each to sign a pledge promising, "I will be civil in my public discourse and behavior. I will be respectful of others whether or not I agree with them.
Amy E. Black is associate professor of political science and chair of the department of Politics and International Relations at Wheaton College (IL). Dr. Black earned her Ph.D. in Political Science at M.I.T. In 2000-2001, Dr. Black served as an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow, working in the office of Representative Melissa A. Hart.