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Can Post-2016 Politics Become More Respectful?

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton speak during the second presidential debate ...

Credit: Associated Press

Above: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton speak during the second presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis on Oct. 9, 2016.

Can Post-2016 Politics Become More Respectful?


Carl Luna, director, Institute for Civil Civic Engagement

Carolyn Lukensmeyer, executive director, National Institute for Civil Discourse


Experts say the 2016 presidential election was one of the nastiest in modern American politics. Rude tweets and name-calling have become standard ways to simply dismiss political opponents without engaging in a substantive debate.

That lack of political civility has affected nonpolitical relationships too, said Carolyn Lukensmeyer, executive director of the University of Arizona's National Institute for Civil Discourse. She recently got an email from a minister about to officiate a wedding concerned because the two families are caught up in political bickering.

"The public now understands that a chasm has been opened up between ordinary people, not just politicians," Lukensmeyer said. "We have to do something about this in our own hometowns."

Lukensmeyer will be in San Diego Tuesday and Wednesday for the sixth annual "Conference on Restoring Civility to Civic Dialogue," organized by the University of San Diego's Institute for Civil Civic Engagement. She has worked with more than a dozen state legislatures running workshops on how to govern while still respecting your political opponents.

The most receptive states have been those with political leaders who are supportive of rank-and-file members participating and an equal number of Republicans and Democrats attending, Lukensmeyer said. But one of the most important predictors, she said, is whether the legislators themselves can identify what is keeping them from treating each other with civility and respect.

"The attention is going to people who are being uncivil," she said.

Lukensmeyer and Institute for Civil Civic Engagement director Carl Luna joined KPBS Midday Edition on Monday to discuss how they are trying to create a more respectful political atmosphere.

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