Say enough’s enough to polarization

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By Lee Hamilton

In recent appearances, President Barack Obama has suggested that it’s time for Washington to confront the intense polarization and incivility that mark our politics these days.

His first sally was his back-and-forth with the House Republican caucus at its retreat in Baltimore. He followed that a few days later with a speech to the National Prayer Breakfast decrying the “erosion of civility” in Washington and the inability of politicians in an increasingly partisan culture to listen to one other. “Those of us in Washington are not serving the people as well as we should,” he said.

Lots of ordinary Americans would agree with those lofty sentiments. But what’s notable is the growing concern even in Washington that, when it comes to the actual business of governing, the nation’s political leaders appear so riven with conflict that they’re unable to move forward on anything. Both Democrats and Republicans welcomed the President’s visit with the House Republicans as a first, tentative step in trying to reduce partisanship.

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