A Call for Civility in American Politics

Just a little more than a year ago, a gunman shot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D) at a meeting she was holding with constituents in Tucson, Ariz. Even though the shooter did not appear to be motivated by a political agenda, the intimate portrait of Giffords that emerged prompted many who engage in what now passes for political "conversation" to reassess the increasing tendency toward demonization of those whose beliefs or experiences have led them to hold positions different from our own. When we routinely deride the intelligence and character of those with whom we disagree, the people at the receiving…