Originally published October 1, 2012 at 11:15 a.m., updated October 1, 2012 at 3:14 p.m.
Carl Luna, political science professor, Mesa College
Restoring Respect Event
State Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher said he left the Republican party and became an independent in part because of the lack of civility and respect in politics.
Fletcher will speak on a panel about the importance of restoring respect and civility to our civil discourse. The panel is part of a community initiative taking place this week at the University of San Diego.
"Politics has always been rough, there have always been unsavory characters," he said. "My frustration, as it relates to civility, is a lack of willingness to say we can sit down and negotiate in good faith, that we may view things differently but we have a common good, which is advancing our city or state or country, and that's what I really think we're missing."
He said politics has lost the notion that we can agree to disagree without hating each other.
As the November election approaches, the American voter is fed a diet of negative ads that may start by being merely distasteful, but become nastier and more unpalatable as the electorate is subjected to the same hit pieces again and again.
Much of the campaign-season rhetoric seems to be about how terrible the other guy is, rather than what good ideas and strong leadership a candidate is offering. Compromise is seen as a dirty word in some circles, and outright lies have become common. And, while there is frequently talk of bipartisan cooperation, there is very little action.
Fletcher told KPBS he thinks incivility is worse today than it has been in the past because we're lacking the optimism that we can solve problems.
"What you see now is a campaign that exists not to put people in place to enact good policies, but a campaign that exists to perpetuate a campaign," he said. "That gets done by driving people to the ideological extremes and punishing those that sit down and work in good faith for solutions."
Claire Trageser contributed to this report.