The public is noticing a breakdown of civility in Washington since Trump took office. According to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll, about 70 percent of Americans believe the tone in Washington has gotten worse since November, and only six percent say the tone has improved.

Cornell Clayton

According to Cornell William Clayton, co-editor of “Civility and Democracy in America” and a professor of government at Washington State University, Trump cannot expect his critics to tone down their rhetoric while he frequently engages in such personal attacks against them.

“It’s just so unusual to hear a politician so focused on the kind of personal vendettas he’s focused on,” he said.

Clayton said the problem in Washington is less that politicians are engaging in uncivil rhetoric and more that they have proven incapable of compromise on major issues. The prospect of working with Democrats on health care has become a worst-case scenario for Senate Republicans, but a bipartisan agreement could reinforce the importance of working toward the common good.

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