Sundquist, Bredesen & Haslam Hold Civil Discourse

Gov. Bill Haslam and his predecessors — former Govs. Phil Bredesen and Don Sundquist — concurred Thursday night during a panel discussion in Knoxville that the lack of dignified civil debate and, animus among politicians and voters has proved toxic in government’s ability to get things done.
Further from the News Sentinel:
The 90-minute panel discussion on “Balancing Civility and Free Expression,” the third of three civility forums across the state, drew an overflow crowd at the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy on the University of Tennessee campus.
Haslam said he has heard pleas of “please solve problems” from people across the state who have tired of the often partisan infighting, both in Tennessee and on the national level, while government grinds to a halt.
“These issues are too big to turn into petty food fights,” said Haslam.
…Sundquist said that being civil is not a sign of weakness.
“Civility is respecting the rights of others to have opinions and expressing those opinions to arrive at solutions,” Sundquist said.
“Is it possible to reduce the meanness? We have to demand it.”
Haslam, whose first political job was opening letters at Baker’s office in 1978, said civility starts with familiarity — something that’s missing all too often these days.
“The principle holds if you get the relationship right, other things tend to work out,” Haslam said.
Bredesen said incivility is nothing new.
“We have had periods in the past that were very uncivil,” Bredesen said. “I think of it more of a symptom of something else in society. What is it about American society today that people are frustrated with? I sense that people’s needs aren’t being met.”

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