Yes, there were bullies and thugs a generation ago when social mores were well defined and most everyone grew up knowing the rules, if not practicing them, but they were the exception, not the rule. Their unwillingness to follow social norms is what made them bullies and thugs.
I hate to be the one to burst our national bubble about the potential for greater civility, but we’re rearing a generation that seems to have no concept that there are things you just don’t do or say.
Why would they believe otherwise? The media they consume only feeds the belief that they are free to say or do any barbaric thing that springs to mind. And worse, their parents either don’t themselves know what it means to be civil or won’t do the difficult work of taming their otherwise loutish, uncultured offspring.
We want civility in political discourse? That’s a big dream for a nation that doesn’t even have civility in the school cafeteria.