What this Minnesota city can teach America about restoring political civility

The decline of civility in political debate was alarming. Harsh rhetoric was getting in the way of resolving bitter disputes.

Worse yet, the nasty tenor of political discourse was so turning off young people that they were walking away from it, saying they didn’t want to get involved in such a nasty process.

Sounds like Washington today, right? Actually, it was Duluth, Minn., more than a decade ago as tensions rose over local budget strains. Then, as now on the national political stage, nastiness was becoming the norm, preventing well-intentioned people from coming together to solve problems.

The difference is that the leaders of Duluth decided to do something about it. Civic leaders launched something called Speak Your Peace: The Civility Project. They drew up a list of nine guidelines for civilized debate so simple they could and did fit on a wallet card.

Click to read Gerald Seib's full column from The Wall Street Journal.

Gerald F. Seib is the Washington bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal. He also writes a weekly column, “Capital Journal,” for the Journal.