Online incivility is an epidemic that currently shows no sign of abating. We’re talking about full-out attacks unleashed with the goal of harming their targets personally and professionally.
American political discourse has been particularly incendiary. Politicians, political candidates and pundits, even supporters, have played roles in this degradation. And the fanatical finger-pointing at the the other side’s perceived wrongs has increased the seeming intractability of political discourse. Yet, given the right tools with which to proceed, a rational discussion of the serious national and international political issues facing us is possible, and an important step in this direction is having facts at our disposal – facts such as the actual statements being made by our political leaders.
To help track exactly what is being said and by whom, I suggested in yesterday’s New York Daily News article Gabrielle Giffords shooting highlights need for civility the creation of a Political Civility Report Card to serve as a central repository of reckless or outrageous statements negatively affecting the political process.
To avoid exaggeration or fabrication of information, this report card would contain fact-based examples with links to reliable and original sources, so the authenticity of the material could be verified if necessary. Furthermore, the information would be provided by the public – basically anyone interested in the political process – and ultimately serve as one factor among several that help voters rate their elected officials’ effectiveness as leaders.