President Barack Obama on Wednesday said voters have a responsibility to promote civility in politics by not voting for "somebody who is just popping off" or "just being controversial for the sake of it," implicitly referring to presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.
"If you want more civility, then you vote for folks who are civil and who are making arguments and using logic and presenting evidence, not just somebody who is popping off," Obama said at a PBS town hall in Elkhart, Indiana. "And that's true whether it's on the left or the right. If you are voting for somebody who is just being controversial for the sake of it, or helping you vent, then you only have yourself to blame if it turns out that the political debate starts getting more and more crazy."
Obama was responding to a woman who lamented the lack of civility in politics, citing the Republican primary debates. Obama said he shared her concern, and blamed the media and political gerrymandering for creating more polarization.
He argued that when political parties can determine the boundaries of congressional districts, they make easier for their party's candidates to win.
"It means if you're a Republican, you don't have to worry about what the Democrat is saying. You don't have to go to the center. You just have to make sure that the tea party Republican to your right doesn't say something more outlandish than you do."
And he criticized the media for amplifying the antics of candidates like Trump.
"What happens is that politicians get the most attention the more outrageous they sound. And so, if you're civil and quiet and polite, nobody covers you," he said. "But if you say something crazy or rude, you're all over the news. That has fed, I think, this kind of arms race of insults and controversy that doesn't shine a lot of light, even though it generates a lot of heat."
In March, Obama pointed out the amount of media attention Trump receives, particularly from cable news networks with wall-to-wall Trump coverage.
“A job well done is about more than just handing someone a microphone,” Obama said then.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political vi