Doves and peaceniks no more: These Democrats relish the role of bullies

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He thinks a civility retreat would work again as long as the American people make it clear that they want the political system fixed and that the event has “political muscle.” Implementation of recommended changes and enforcement of agreements “must not be left to party leaders to act upon because they will not follow through.”

He recommends a bipartisan team of lawmakers who are “transparent and public” in their deliberations. There is a place for very private discussion, too.

Some say the hubbub is appropriate, particularly when it comes from Republican tea party senators.

“Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Marco Rubio, all of these guys were all elected running against Obamacare, promising constituents they would do everything they could to end it. What would you do, break that promise to your constituents? They want them to act like this. I see it all day on Twitter. ‘Thank you, Ted Cruz, for standing up for us,’” said CNN analyst S.E. Cupp.

But former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. said nothing can be accomplished when lawmakers talk past one another.

“Sniping is part of the political process, but unless both parties sit down at the table and begin speaking to one another, nothing happens,” said Mr. Huntsman, who founded NoLabels, a bipartisan grass-roots group bearing the motto “Stop fighting, start fixing,” when running for the Republican presidential nomination three years ago.

Mr. Post, the great-grandson of the original manners maven Emily Post, advises the combatants to put down their verbal spears and huddle.

“As long as the media encourages this behavior by covering it, the politicians will keep doing it. And that is a problem.” Mr. Post said.” The public sighs and says, ‘Oh, here’s one more person saying idiotic things to the camera.’ It’s like a broken record.”

Things could be worse. Historical accounts reveal multiple incidents of confrontations between lawmakers and other officials that resulted in fisticuffs, or assaults with pistols, canes and fireplace tongs.

“Let’s remember that the Founding Fathers foresaw this problem. As they formulated the Constitution, they said that every generation — which Jefferson then considered to be every 19 years — would have to rewrite the rules of governance. It’s time for all of us to step forward and fulfill that promise,” mediator Mr. Gerzon advised.

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