At the height of a close election, it is worth a reminder that civility is the essential democratic virtue. Civility is not the same thing as niceness.
The high stakes of politics can produce intense disagreements. But manners — even cold, formal ones — communicate a modicum of mutual respect and preserve the possibility of cooperation. John Stuart Mill called democracy “government by discussion.”
Michael Gerson, as quoted in The Washington Post, October 15, 2012