Civility breakdown undermining America’s democracy, expert tells audience

Mon, 2017-11-13

by Jim McLean, Kansas News Service

Progressives deride supporters of President Donald Trump as willfully ignorant reactionaries, even racists.

Fans of the president respond in kind, dismissing liberals as snowflakes and worse.

The escalating war of words is a clear and present danger to American democracy, said Carolyn Lukensmeyer, executive director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse, in a presentation sponsored by the Topeka-based Sunflower Foundation’s Advocacy in Health speaker series.

“Civility is an essential ingredient in a free democracy,” Lukensmeyer said Wednesday to an audience at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. “Our system is dependent on the capacity to absorb, assimilate and productively deal with difference.”

Incivility leads to certain groups of people being treated as “others to the point we don’t respect them as human beings,” she said.

Lukensmeyer, who holds a doctorate in organizational behavior, is a former White House consultant and chief of staff to former Ohio Gov. Richard Celeste, a Democrat who served from 1983 to 1991.