Lessons in civility

Civility in a Partisan Era

UWL series aims to bring civility back in politics.

UWL series aims to bring civility back in politics

A Washington, D.C., correspondent at the “National Review” will kick off a new UW-La Crosse lecture series that aims to bring some civility back into political discussion.
John McCormack, a fellow at National Review Institute, will speak on “A Crisis of Civility: How the left and the right are damaging political debate in America” at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, April 4, in the Student Union Theatre, 521 East Ave. N. The presentation is free.

The talk is the inaugural presentation of the UWL Political Science and Public Administration Department’s new series, “Civility in a Partisan Era,” says department chair and series co-leader Tim Dale. The series will continue in the 2019-20 academic year.

“It is probably clear to anyone who follows politics that we are living in a particularly contentious time,” says Dale. “The political divide makes it increasingly difficult for many to imagine how we can have a productive conversation with people who have different opinions from our own.”

Dale says the series intends to bring these conversations to a wider audience on campus while inviting nationally recognized speakers to share the conversations.

A healthy democracy requires this type of discussion, notes Dale. “Despite the partisan divide, civil conversations are necessary in a democracy,” he explains. “This speaker series aims to explore how we can continue to engage in these conversations.”

Dale finds students open to listening to the other side’s view. “It happens all of the time in our classrooms and at campus events,” he says. “In my experience students are interested in a range of views on any given subject, sometimes to learn and other times to engage in debate. We make a mistake if we think an argument or the passionate expression of an opinion is the same as not being open to listening to others.”

Dale says it’s important to maintain productive political conversations. “Structured dialogue can also remind us of our shared priorities and goals, even if we have disagreements about principles and policies,” he notes.

Co-sponsors for McCormack’s presentation include: the Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership and the UWL Department of Political Science and Public Administration, Political Science and Public Administration Association, College Republicans and College Democrats.

More about John McCormack

John McCormack, a fellow at the National Review Institute, will give a presentation kicking off the Political Science and Public Administration Department’s “Civility in a Partisan Era” series.

Prior to joining the “National Review,” McCormack was a senior writer at “The Weekly Standard,” where he covered Congress, the White House, and political campaigns from 2007-18.

McCormack was a 2011 Robert Novak journalism fellow and has appeared on a variety of news and public policy programs, such as PBS’s “Newshour,” NPR’s “On Point,” MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” CNN’s “Inside Politics,” HBO’s “Real Time,” and several Fox News shows, including “Special Report with Bret Baier.”

McCormack grew up in St. Croix County, Wisconsin, and lives with his wife, Lauren, in Alexandria, Virginia.

If you go

Who: John McCormack, fellow at the National Review Institute

What: Lecture: “A Crisis of Civility: How the left and the right are damaging political debate in America”

When: 4:30 p.m. Thursday, April 4

Where: UWL Student Union Theatre, 521 East Ave. N.

Admission: Free.