Main content

American Civility: Year Zero

Michael Goldfarb examines the ignoble history of rude, violent debate that has characterised American politics from the country’s founding to present day.

America today is an uncivil society with a President who calls for his opponent to be locked up, a legislature that seems to be interested only in partisan shouting, not governing, and with large chunks of the media egging on the bad behaviour.

This state of affairs didn’t happen overnight. Michael Goldfarb traces the current era of partisan gridlock to the midterm election of 1994, when the Republicans led by Newt Gingrich took over the House of Representatives. His view of politics, it's the war of all against all, as opposed to an arena for compromise and consent, has taken over.

Michael looks at Gingrich's rise to power and examines the ignoble history of rude, violent debate that has characterised American politics from the country’s founding. And he asks if there is any way out of America’s current predicament.

A Certain Height production for BBC Radio 4

Available now

57 minutes