Alexander Heffner, host of the PBS series “The Open Mind,”

HELENA – Alexander Heffner, host of the PBS series “The Open Mind,” visited Helena Monday to give a lecture entitled “Civil Discourse in an Uncivil Age: The Quest for a Post-Partisan America.”

Whether it’s healthcare, immigration or whatever the latest hot-button issue is, everyone has opinions. Heffner tried to explain why these partisan issues are causing so much strife.

He said toxic rhetoric from both sides of the aisle is made worse by access to social media which can spread misinformation.

Heffner has been reporting on American politics, civic life and millennials since the 2008 presidential election. His series “The Open Mind” interviews prominent figures in media, business and government, to talk about current affairs.

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Heffner said he would like to see debates that strengthen the American people rather than divide, and he’s optimistic that can happen.

“You have to be fundamentally an optimist to keep on going and I think from that perspective I’ve seen enough to suggest that it’s possible,” Heffner said. “We can write a new paradigm in our politics that is far more consensus-oriented and solutions-oriented that facilitates a camaraderie of the American spirit that is so dying for renewal right now.”

Heffner came to speak to college students and the public as part of Carroll College’s Alpha Seminar. Alpha Seminar is a course taken by first-year students during their first semester at Carroll College.

In the question and answer session following the lecture, Heffner was asked about his thoughts on the controversy between NFL players and President Donald Trump.

His answer: there are bigger political issues to worry about.