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Article on Perceived Decrease in Civility Doesn’t Mention Trump and Rude MAGAism

South Dakota News Watch’s fourth report on its July Mason-Dixon polling results is a spectacular exercise in not talking about the elephants in the room. In discussing the opinion of 79% of respondents that civility has declined over the last five years, Bart Pfankuch manages to avoid making a single mention of the one of the primary causes of that perceived lack of civility: the daily and highly visible practice and affirmation of incivility by Donald Trump and his MAGA Republican fanatics.

Reporter Bart Pfankuch prefers instead to give former Senator Larry Pressler, who in demeanor represents the anti-Trump, time to blame reporters for incivility:

Pressler said the news media has exacerbated the incivility in politics because reporters often tend to seek out conflict to report on, placing lawmakers in a position where any perceived misstep is highlighted or overanalyzed. Working with members of an opposing political party or agreeing across the aisle is now seen as weakness or a lack of conviction, whereas in the past the ability to work in a bipartisan fashion was celebrated, Pressler said.

“Each party is afraid to socialize with the other…so you’re constantly on guard when you’re around members of the other party, and that’s really unfortunate,” he said [Bart Pfankuch, “As 2022 Election Approaches, Vast Majority of South Dakota Voters See Civility Declining in America,” South Dakota News Watch, 2022.09.21].

Former USD prof Matthew Moen blames “both sides”:

“Compromise is really the lifeblood of how the American system is structured, and compromise and conciliation are now seen as vices and not virtues by many partisans on both sides,” he said.

A lack of collegiality in Congress may also be due to fundamental changes in how lawmakers behave, Moen said, as they spend less time in Washington, less time working together as a group, with more time and energy devoted to fundraising or pushing political agendas not tied to real issues and problems.

“What we all feel uneasy about is that the lines are shifting, and the boundaries are moving partly because the political leadership is willing to move them with an eye toward national public policies and national politics rather than with an eye toward solving intractable public policy problems with their colleagues,” he said [Pfankuch, 2022.09.21].

Banker Jason Herrboldt says leaders need to model civility:

“The burden of leadership is very real, and we as leaders need to raise the bar on ourselves because people are listening,” he said. “It should be a wake-up call and lead us to do more and to raise the bar on how we are interacting with each other, because people are always paying attention and taking cues from leaders” [Pfankuch, 2022.09.21].

But the entire article namby-pams around the obvious and specific conclusion of Herrboldt’s advice that indicts the limp both-sidesism of Moen’s assessment: Republicans picked as their leader Donald Trump, a man who throughout his campaign and his time in the White House and to this day persists in modeling the most uncivil comments imaginable and exhorting others to uncivil behavior. His Republican followers ape his incivility to the point of threatening their own Republican Senator with armed insurrection.

Sure, reporters may lean toward conflict and horserace stories over policy analysis. Congress critters son’t spend enough time living and working with each other in Washington (or, as Pressler mentions, flying home sitting next to colleagues from the other party) to break down barriers and promote civil, practical conversations. And yes, leaders in all organizations have an obligation to model the civil behavior that greases the gears of civilization.

But discussing a perceived decline in civility in America without discussing the chief exemplar of uncivil behavior, Donald Trump, and his millions of F-bomb-flag-waving Republican minions is like talking about monkeypox and not talking about anonymous sex with multiple partners.


  1. Donald Pay 2022-09-22 10:16

    Sorry, but civility in South Dakota politics took a big hit in the 1970s. Janklow was a mini-Trump, and the Oahe Irrigation Project brought out the worst in many SD leaders, even mild-mannered George McGovern. Pressler was an exception, mostly, except when he was putting labels on everything and everybody. About all he said for a time was “liberal” this and “liberal” that.

    I never had much trouble with the really conservative folks. We got along fine, uniting on a number of issues. It was the goddamn elite in both parties that were the most uncivil back then. Sure, the bi-partisan elite sat around an talked about how to screw over everyone else. They got along just fine while they kicked around the little guys. That isn’t my idea of civility.

  2. Joe 2022-09-22 10:52

    My folks called him Larry Press Release.

  3. cibvet 2022-09-22 11:37

    America’s ugliness has always been simmering but somewhat restrained. trump gave permission slips for
    magas to unleash their foulness on everyone with no quarter given.

  4. leslie 2022-09-22 12:02

    Adversarial zealousness. Our court system’s doctrinal foundation.

    Republicans weaponized this. Incivility, yes, a by-product. Over 3-4 decades. Benefits the wealthy constituents.

    Trump learned from Sen McCarthy’s liar-lawyer Roy Cohn. Perfected w/3000 lawsuits to escape paying for anything. We saw this MAGA trainwreck nominating Trump coming miles away.

    Letterman made a fool of him nightly for years. Called him a racist.
    Watch all five minutes!! Captures everything currently.
    Also for grins if you like, (May 21, 1992) (1986 @ 3:00-4:17)

    Both-sides disinformation ignores that Republican GOP, billionaires, and corporates are the actual perpetrators.

  5. Ron Jon 2022-09-22 12:44

    The behavior of President Trump and the weaponizing governmental power by conservative-wannabees to punish anyone not holding the right position is disgusting, just as it is when the far left advances their agenda using the same means. In my opinion, Trump was copying the far left and that struck a cord with many people who thought they were not going to take it anymore. The rationale is “If they’re asses, we’ll be bigger asses.” The hardest thing for me to take is the jettisoning of conservative principles and then have those people claim they are the true conservatives when they are far from it.

  6. grudznick 2022-09-22 17:41

    This blogging place is the perfect location to blog about decreases in civility, what with all the out-of-state name-callers and such, you know. In-state ones, too. As the voice-of-civility amongst us all, grudznick sometimes has to plug his nose when reading all the lack of civility and rudeness.

  7. grudznick 2022-09-22 18:03

    Indeed, Lar. However our deep, manly affection for each other remains strong, despite what some may perceive as sort of a one-sided decrease in civility and increase in rudeness. I still love you, man.

  8. larry kurtz 2022-09-22 18:25

    grud has been nothing but condescending and belligerent since the Blogmore days yet still has the temerity to expect us to bathe in its aphorisms and repartee. How truly Trumpist.

  9. Arlo Blundt 2022-09-22 19:00

    Donald has it right. We’re seeing the same thing happen up in McPherson County over the Summit pipeline. Lifelong Conservative Republican landowners pitted against a Party elite who are out for a big payday at their expense. This kind of dispute, a lot like United Family Farmers in the fight against Oahe, brings out the true colors of the Republican elite. They are more interested in retirement in Scottsdale than preserving traditional farming and representing the interests of the people.

  10. leslie 2022-09-23 01:25

    oh please…ronjon “the far left advances their agenda using the same means….copying the far left and that struck a cord with many…”

    please back it up.

  11. Runs_With_Fire 2022-09-23 01:58

    Putin and the Russian empire must be proud of their accomplishments. They can’t take on the United States in a conventional war as they would get obliviated, this is obvious. So how do you as a Russian bring down a Nation? Divide and conquer, sow seeds of hatred, pit countrymen against fellow countrymen, emphasize what makes you different and villainize the other sides values and beliefs. Sow the seeds of hatred toward anyone and everyone that has a view different from you.
    United we Stand, Divided we fall. We are all Americans, in our core beliefs a vast majority of us all want the same thing for our country we just have different ideas on how to reach to reach those goals. To Putin I say f#%k Putin and everyone who loves him and his ideology. I am an AMERICAN first and everything else comes after that.

  12. M 2022-09-23 06:14

    Newt (I always want to say neuter) Gingrich started the outlandish incivility with encouragement from Rush Limbaugh. They verbally attacked and abused women, Family Planning, NPR, Sesame Street….yeah can you believe that and anything else sacred to me. These assaults WOKE me up and I’ve been a political junkie since.

    The Republicans own the incivility that brought Trump and his fascist followers to power.

    The only decent governor this state has had was Mickelson Jr and claiming McGovern was not civil are fighting words for me.

  13. David Bergan 2022-09-23 08:22

    More importantly… who are the voices today leading us toward increased civility? Is at-one-ment the prime directive of this website?

    Kind regards,

  14. Donald Pay 2022-09-23 08:49

    I’m not a big believer in civility in some instances, anyway. “Please” and “thank you” work with teachers and parents. They don’t work with politicians who get campaign checks from giant nuclear waste companies. For politicians, you need at least a 2×4, the balls to swing it and the accuracy to hit the politician where it hurts most. I’m sorry, if you are putting some polluting pig factory in my backyard, I ain’t gonna play nice with you. I’m gonna be Negan.

  15. John 2022-09-23 09:30

    Leslie’s spot on. “Adversarial zealousness. Our court system’s doctrinal foundation.” The “goal” in the US judicial system is to adversarially win, at nearly all cost. The goal of the UK judicial system is a search for the truth. Both have flaws, the greater flaws on the US side of the Atlantic.

  16. leslie 2022-09-23 09:48

    i suppose ronjon will reply w/this kind of response. Young Amanda takes no quarter.

    Meanwhile Noem is an active groomer of young people. The “Bro” wedding party flyer who called out Girls Stater extraordinaire Ms Howard is just one glaring example. Another off hand: Dusty/Red Head Russian Spy trio (includes felon Republican) Erickson at the Black Hills church camp.

    M said it so well!

  17. leslie 2022-09-23 10:31

    finally, incivil Trump, mouth piece for Rush Limbaugh, Rupert Murdoch, Newt Gingrich, Steven Miller, “yuppie Two Shirts” Bannon, Vlad Putin and Adolf Hitler, will likely end this way, kinda like covid:

    “Keeping Trump from the White House again is a real benefit to the country. He’d have to agree to that in any plea deal….Will he continue to agitate and attempt to grab press headlines? Of course, but the Republican Party and his followers, at some point, have to move on. Donald Trump has had his moment. In the end, the country will get past Donald Trump.”–but-hes-not-going-to-jail/

    there are not really “both sides” but rather, the truth. Noem, Thune, Rounds, Dusty and the GOP do not deal in truth.

  18. larry kurtz 2022-09-23 13:52

    In many ways Russia does still represent the wild frontier we just don’t have anymore in the United Untied States. Mass and school shootings, the Trump virus and climate extremes truly have made us crankier and less civil while Russia pushes our buttons.

    Desperation is building ever greater in the Republican Party as the poor slobs pick through the wreckage wrought by their own hands so expect things to get way worse before we Democrats make it better.

  19. Donald Pay 2022-09-23 21:47

    I actually think civility has increased over the last 50 years for a lot of people. Think of how we treat people with disabilities today, compared to 50 years ago. While race relations could use much more work, we no longer can treat people of color with uncivil behavior, such as refusing to serve them, and refusing rent to them (although it probably still happens). That happened all the time in South Dakota. There were No Indians Allowed signs up until well into the 70s. Fifty years ago we treated girls and women uncivilly. They didn’t have the right to have their own credit card, couldn’t engage in school sports equally with males, or allow them to control their own bodies. Of course, even today there are some who think treating people with respect is too woke for them. I have no trouble treating those creeps with the disrespect they deserve. If that is uncivil, they deserved every ounce of it we can give them.

  20. V 2022-09-24 06:40

    Donald Pay, you don’t see discrimination because you aren’t around the people who experience it every day. Trump made fun of everyone publicly, a handicap journalist, women’s looks constantly, Mexicans, native veterans, blacks, the poor, etc. His verbal attacks have had a profound effect on anyone other than wealthy white men, who he just enriched.

    Do you think taking away women’s rights is civil? Our bodies are not ours anymore, there’s talk of taking our right to vote and slavery is on the ballot in a few states.

    Sorry but I needed a punching bag today Donald and you said the wrong thing to me. Unless you’ve experienced hatred directed at you because of your gender or color, please don’t say it’s gotten better. I’ve seen people flip from civility to hostility real fast and all it takes is a spark of encouragement from a fascist to light up a prairie fire.

    Just compare the demeanor between Obama and Trump and you have extremes, with absolutely nothing in common…. nothing. Trump was the end of civility and until his mouth is locked up, we all have to suffer.

  21. John 2022-09-24 09:12

    The “elephant in the room” . . . what a loaded phrase. Also consider that US demographics and population settlement is part of the reason that US citizens are yelling at each other. Over half of all folks in the US live within 200 miles of one of the 3 coasts. Yet, the dirt in the middle is over-represented in congress.

    Consider this video excerpt largely drawn from the book, “The Accidental Super Power”. ‘Why the US is Too OP [overpowered]: Also consider their shorter video on, “Why 80% of Americans Live East of This Line”.

    Back on September 1st, this community had good discussions on the worker shortage and the US and South Dakota NEED for immigrants. “Wholestone Farms Will Need Immigrants to Make Its Bacon”.
    Peter Zeihan notes the US has a shortage of 300k workers per year, the situation is getting worse, and may culminate at 900k per year within a generation. His keynote talk to the Engineering and Construction Contracting (ECC) Association was on September 8, but it was posted September 23.
    The anti-immigrant stunts of red state governors are counter-productive, duh. Instead, the Federal government ought to consider opening an immigrant resettlement centers in the states with demographic holes of absent workers. It’s hypocritical, even insane, how most of us are the products of immigrants, yet now too many want to pull up the ladders and slam the doors shut on immigration our nation needs to supply workers.

  22. Donald Pay 2022-09-24 10:02

    V, Yeah, granted we have a lot of people out there who ain’t civil toward people. I’m just saying, it’s better than it was. I am old enough to remember when want ads listed jobs for men and jobs for women, and when my mom couldn’t get a credit card on her own.

    Liz, my sweetie, is Lakota, so when we were in South Dakota I saw how she experienced things in her life. It’s one of the reasons we moved out of South Dakota. It’s amazing how just crossing the South Dakota border on your way out increases the civility of people. I suppose because we live in a progressive city that does make people here more likely to be civil. There’s something about majority conservative areas that make life difficult, and civility decreases because most people are under a lot of economic and other stress.

    I know discrimination happens every day, but it is looked down on by most people. Yeah, there’s a group of troglodytes, mostly in the Trump wing of the Republican Party. They need to be sent to re-education camps. If they can’t get themselves under control, they all need to be beaten into some sense. I tell you, I’m uncivil when it comes to hate.

    I’m not much of a whiner about stuff that happened to me in South Dakota. But when it happens to others I get incensed. Believe me, I’ve seen this stuff up close and in-person. I have worked with people of color and disabled people as an employment specialist. I saw discrimination against those folks in hiring. It’s why I won’t ever shop at HyVee.

  23. All Mammal 2022-09-24 10:53

    This is enough proof to validate what V is saying. It makes me sob like a baby. The students shown on our Memorial mall had just participated in an anti abortion protest. Beware: may cause anger and an urge to fight or cry. We definitely need civility so Putin’s subversion tactics do not render us so weak we self detonate. Get Putin’s KGB style misinformation out of the heads of the MAGAts and repair the moral decay we see everyday. Start with correcting the behavior in this video. Which did not happen, by the way. This kid stated he did nothing wrong. He is white and had every right, basically. I want to tan his hide myself.

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