It seems like most political debate in our country fails to “achieve disagreement,” but instead just reinforces the barriers that we have already constructed between ourselves and others. One of my favorite quotes from the episode is when Jonathan Rauch said “When I see someone who won't compromise, I see someone betraying the core purposes of our Constitution, which is to force compromise.” I think it is clear that that is how this country was designed, with a separation of powers so that people would have to compromise in order to get anything done. To quote Ronald Reagan, “my 80 percent friend is not my 20 percent enemy.”
I liked what Blankenhorn had to say about the relationship between civility and doubt. If you have even a slight amount of doubt about a belief of yours, that naturally leads you to be civil to someone with an alternate viewpoint because you see the value in their beliefs. They might have an insight or a perspective that will help you understand the issue better. But if you don't have any doubt about your stance on an issue, someone with an alternative viewpoint is completely useless to you. Nothing can be gained by talking to that person, so you are less likely to treat that person civilly.
More information about text formats