...Institutional change in the American political system has incentivized party candidates, leaders and office holders to stake out more, rather than less, extreme positions...
Some researchers argue that, as political polarization has grown, civility in American politics has diminished:
More “emotionally extreme” rhetoric exhibiting lack of mutual respect on televised political talk shows may increase political polarization “by helping partisans think even less of their opponents than they already did.”
During the time period that polarization has risen, uncivil discourse on the floor of the House of Representatives has increased, as measured by words ruled out of order and demands that something spoken on the floor be removed from the record.
The Senate is characterized by more civility than the House, but incivility in the Senate too has grown as political polarization has increased.
While “[i]ncreased party polarization...receives much of the blame for a perceived decline in the civility of American public debate,” we lack the needed research to show whether polarization produces incivility, incivility produces polarization, or—as seems most plausible—there is a reciprocal relationship between the two.
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