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Tribal advocates keep up legal pressure for fair political maps; 12-member jury sworn in for Trump's historic criminal trial; the importance of healthcare decision planning; and a debt dilemma: poll shows how many people wrestle with college costs.

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Civil rights activists say a court ruling could end the right to protest in three southern states, a federal judge lets January 6th lawsuits proceed against former President Trump, and police arrest dozens at a Columbia University Gaza protest.

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Wyoming needs more educators who can teach kids trade skills, a proposal to open 40-thousand acres of an Ohio forest to fracking has environmental advocates alarmed and rural communities lure bicyclists with state-of-the-art bike trail systems.

National Civility Month: Can a Respectful Tone Ever Return to Politics?

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Thursday, August 17, 2023   

August is National Civility Month, and finding common ground in politics without name-calling might seem like an insurmountable task.

A South Dakota expert said a lot of factors led to this point, but some brave steps could ease the tension.

David Wiltse, associate professor of political science at South Dakota State University, said researchers have noticed a rise in "negative partisanship." Influenced by what they see on social media, he said people's enthusiasm for their own political party is outweighed by a desire to demonize those aligned with the other major party.

"What's driving your partisanship is more of a sense of how different and how corrupt or evil your opposition is," Wiltse explained.

Wiltse noted politicians pick up on these cues, leading to extreme rhetoric on the campaign trail, especially for primary elections. But he argued it is up to the political elite to put a stop to it. Just like voters becoming more isolated from people with different viewpoints, he said members of Congress do not spend as much time around each other working on solutions as much as they used to.

But it is not just about leaders fostering an environment to reestablish relationship-building among federal lawmakers. Wiltse suggested politicians calling out members of their own party, to tone down hateful or inaccurate rhetoric, could help turn the tide.

"It's not as if every single politician is behaving this way," Wiltse acknowledged. "It's just you've got enough who really are fueling this incivility and really trying to use that as their pathway to power."

He cited the late Sen. John McCain in his 2008 presidential bid as an example of bravery that still might work today. The Arizona Republican confronted his own supporters for spreading inflammatory comments about his opponent, Barack Obama. Wiltse added while McCain's bid for the White House was not successful, his effort in addressing some of the nasty behavior appeared to be effective.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Carnegie Corporation of New York.


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