All the calls for a “return” to civility in Washington are ludicrous because they are harking back to a past that never existed.
The human tendency to romanticize the past and grumble about the present is both understandable and inevitable. Yet it can severely distort our historical perspective. By all means, let’s have more civility in public life, and let’s all strive to lower our political blood pressure. (For the record, I thought President Obama delivered a boffo performance in Tucson.) But let’s also stop propagating the myth of an Edenic past in which Americans hashed out their thorniest differences without venom or rancor. As Billy Joel once sang, “The good old days weren’t always good, and tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems.” The Way We Weren’t – Duncan Currie – National Review Online.
While this author only goes back to the 20th century to disprove the myth, what the historically uninformed need to do is go back to the Founders and read some of the extremely vitriolic things they had to say about each other in the course of their political debates. In particular, the exchanges between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson make the “vitriolic tone” of today seem like a Sunday School picnic.
As with most things coming from the Left, this concern has no real grounding in fact. It is rather little more than cynical posturing for political advantage. Somehow I missed this concern for “civility” when Pelosi was running the House as a personal fiefdom for the last 4 years!