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We’re all frustrated by political incivility – but unsure how to fix it

Ninety percent is close to statistical unanimity, and 90 percent of Americans don't agree on much. But that's the share of the electorate expressing frustration with the "uncivil and rude behavior of politicians," a new poll finds. Results show four out of five voters hold special interests, social media and President Trump responsible.

The same survey, however, finds a profound contradiction about what should be done to boost civility and good manners in public life.

"Compromise and common ground should be the goal," 80 percent of Republicans, 87 percent of independents and 90 percent of Democrats told pollsters from the Georgetown Institute of Politics and Public Service.

And then 85 percent of Republicans, 69 percent of independents and 78 percent of Democrats declared themselves tired of their political leaders compromising their values and urging them to stand up to the other.

Republican pollster Ed Goeas of The Tarrance Group and Democratic pollster Celinda Lake of Lake Research Partners conducted the research. It's similar to the bipartisan polling they've been conducting for two decades.

"Too often, the expedient and confidence-building solution in campaigns and in policy debates is harshly attacking political opponents. This will not change until voters and political leaders demand better," Goeas wrote. "When the reward for attacking opponents is eliminated, politicians will change their tactics. Successful politicians quickly adapt to the tactics that give them the greatest opportunities for success."

Lake noted that "the feeling that politicians are more concerned with helping special interests than their constituents also transcends partisanship," and so "candidates who are able to attain an authentic identity — and achieve separation from their opponents — on this issue stand to reap significant political rewards."

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We can and must embrace our diversity as the operating system of our nation, write the leaders of the Bridge Alliance.

Diverse people must be in every room where decisions are made

Molineaux and Nevins are co-founders of the Bridge Alliance, a coalition of 100 democracy strengthening organizations. (Disclosure: The Bridge Alliance Education Fund is a funder of The Fulcrum.)

As we look to history, it has always been the mystics and scientists, innovators and outliers who saw the future most clearly and acted to push — or call — society forward, to awaken from our slumber of the way things are and envision a better future. The stories of their personal transformation inspire us to be better individually and collectively. With this inspiration, we can and must transform our nation into a more perfect union.

As co-founders of the Bridge Alliance, we are inspired and challenged by the problems facing our country. Our 100 member organizations work daily to protect the ideals of our American Dream so we can create healthy self-governance that has never fully existed before. Our members work to harness the tension of our differences as we enact our inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, balancing individual and community needs.

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Tech. Sgt. Jeff Kelly/U.S. Air Force

The Federal Voting Assistance Program assists military members who need to vote via absentee ballot. A spokeswoman for the Defense Department said there would be "minimal disruptions" if the United States pulls out of the international postage agency.

Costs to mail ballots may skyrocket for civilians, military living overseas

Election officials are growing increasingly concerned that the Trump administration's trade war with China could make it more difficult and expensive for overseas voters — including those in the military — to cast ballots in the 2019 and 2020 local, state and federal elections.

The issue is the pending withdrawal in October by the U.S. from the Universal Postal Union, a group of 192 nations that has governed international postal service and rates for 145 years.

Last October, the U.S. gave the required one-year notice stating it would leave the UPU unless changes were made to the discounted fees that China pays for shipping small packages to the United States. The subsidized fees — established years ago to help poor, developing countries — place American businesses at a disadvantage and don't cover costs incurred by the U.S. Postal Service.

With the U.S.-imposed deadline for withdrawal or new rates fast approaching, states officials are running out of time to prepare for overseas mail-in voting.

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