So what would the Founding Fathers have to say about all this? Well, a writing assignment for a young George Washington was transposing the “Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour In Company and Conversation.” Benjamin Franklin, a widely quoted man, is widely quoted as having said, “Be civil to all, sociable to many, familiar with few, friend to one, enemy to none.” James Madison’s notes on the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia reveal one of the first orders of business was to establish rules of decorum to keep this often contentious meeting under control.
So while it might be a stretch to argue what the Founding Fathers would have thought about gun control, public education or electric car tax subsidies, one matter they seem to be fairly well united on is that of decorum and civility.
Will playing nicely solve all our problems? Certainly not. But perhaps if our politicians could hold their tongues now and again and dial back the rhetoric we could at least make a stab at a constructive conversation instead of reaching towards the bottom of the barrel.