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Larry Donnelly: ‘US politics may have lost civility, but online discourse here is no better’

Larry Donnelly charts the decline in civility in US politics and says Irish conversations online hint of a growing intolerance here. “EXTREMISM IN DEFENCE of liberty is no vice.” Arizona Republican Senator Barry Goldwater made this pronouncement as he accepted the nomination to take on the incumbent President of the United States, Democrat Lyndon B Johnson, in 1964. It was a rebuke to his party’s establishment, who feared that his brand of politics was too far right for the American people. Nowadays, though, Goldwater would probably be identified as a middle of the road elected official in the GOP. This is only one of many cautionary tales that can be drawn upon to illustrate the well-chronicled polarisation of politics on the other side of the Atlantic. It didn’t used to be this way. United States President Ronald Reagan calls the Speaker of the House Thomas P. Tip O’Neill over the phone in the Oval Office in 1981. In decades past, it was customary for conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans – both of whom are nearly extinct species in 2020; in the interest of due disclosure, I am one of the former – to get together and do business while […]

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