This article appeared in the November 06, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 11/06 edition

A stolen lawn sign and the future of civility in America

Rachel Wisniewski/Reuters
Campaign signs for Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden are seen on Election Day in Cherryville, Pennsylvania, on Nov. 3, 2020.
Eva Botkin-Kowacki
Science, environment, and technology writer

Tension. Division. Anger. Those feelings have punctuated the 2020 presidential election.

Civility doesn’t often come to mind. But there have been glimmers of that quality – and questions of whether it can endure.

The need is national but also personal: How, in one of the most fractious moments in history, do we talk to our friends, family, and neighbors who voted differently than we did? Or, can we even talk?

A few folks seem to have found a path to respect. My colleague Christa Case Bryant spoke with two longtime friends – both named Janet – who have maintained both their friendship and political discourse despite being ideological opposites. 

“Jan and I are some of the few people who kind of keep working this. A lot of people are like – forget it,” Janet Breslin told Christa.

And they’re not the only ones. In Wisconsin, when someone stole Tim Place’s Biden yard sign leading up to the election, his neighbor Josh Schoemann, a Trump supporter, got him a new one.

“l thought, ‘That’s just not right,’” Mr. Schoemann told Fox 6 Now Milwaukee. “We love our neighbors and want them to be able to exercise their freedom of speech just like everybody else.” Mr. Schoemann has displayed a Trump sign in his own yard.

The resulting bond between those neighbors raises the possibility that civility might just survive this fraught moment in American democracy. 

Today we’re doing something different: leading off with a letter from Editor Mark Sappenfield on the values that sustain democracy.

This article appeared in the November 06, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 11/06 edition
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.