State GOP to Engage in Civil Discourse

By Curry, Lenny | The Florida Times Union, January 15, 2013 | Go to article overview
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State GOP to Engage in Civil Discourse


Curry, Lenny, The Florida Times Union


Byline: Lenny Curry

Believe it or not, civil discourse in American politics hasn't changed very much since our nation was founded.

Our discourse has been marked by such low lights as a lethal pistol duel between a sitting vice president and a former treasury secretary.

Then there was a public caning by one member of Congress beating another to unconsciousness.

Since then, there have been so many examples of printed attacks in newspapers, mail and other media that they would be impossible to count.

But what has changed is the basis of political disagreements and the speed in which they become public.

Between our nation's founding in 1776 until the "modern" information age began in the mid-20th century with the widespread adoption of television, the primary method of political discourse was through printed media, such as newspapers, mail or other written correspondence.

Even in the bitterest of public disputes, political activists used to have the luxury of time to thoughtfully consider their positions.

PISTOL DUEL

Even in the case of the pistol duel when Vice President Aaron Burr fatally shot Alexander Hamilton, the two men exchanged polite letters for several days before both men determined that further debate would be a waste of time.

Now we live in the world of Twitter and YouTube where the slightest provocation can result in an immediate and blistering reply transmitted around the world in a matter of moments.

Even the more thoughtful and reasoned print media now reads more like the sports page, featuring a running play-by-play on political maneuvering and the day's "political winners and losers."

The results are predictable, heated and generally unproductive.

I'm personally guilty of engaging in these very things myself. So if there are fingers to be pointed, start with me.

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