This site is probably in the most unique position to examine how belligerent people get when discussing topics on which there is much more room to disagree than there is room to agree. People's political leanings often (maybe even usually) become intransigent by the time they become eloquent enough to state their views in a clear manner.
There is any number of meta posts which complain about lack of civility here, about blatant violation of procedures aimed at elevating inquiry over patchiness and so on. The answer that often comes from the mods is that the community has decided this way by its voting.
What this clearly ignores is that votes themselves act as lash out and re-enforcement mechanism. If people voted to inform others of the quality of posts, these problems would not be so pronounced. Instead people often vote to boost their damaged egos or to bruise the egos of those they see as their ideological enemies.
In order to lessen the ego-boosting/ego-bruising impact of down-voting, I would like to ask that it be considered that the reputation loss for downvoting be 3 points instead of 1 point. This doesn't have to be permanent, of course. It can be an experiment for a limited time (start for 2 weeks for example). After that time passes, either the community or the mods can evaluate the impact that this change will have had and either roll it back, make other experimental adjustments or make the change permanent.
In order to stop the same effect on votes to close, I would also propose that a close vote (which is current free and effective way to act punitively towards those with whom one disagrees ideologically) carry some reputation penalty. At the moment, the close votes simply don't act the way they are supposed to. They are not exercised against posts which are poor quality. They are primarily used to censor. There are occasions when poor-quality posts appear here. But the number of posts which attract close votes are many multiples of the posts which are genuinely poor quality.
A close vote should be costly. Maybe their costs should even increase progressively for each individual until some sort of "reset" happens. For example, 5 points for the 1st close of the day and an arithmetically increasing cost for each consecutive close vote (8,11,14,etc.) resetting back to 5 every 2-3 days.
A more controversial measure would be to apply retroactively (and I don't even know if that's possible with the tools available to mods) rep decreases for downvotes, but, at the same time, allowing people to withdraw their votes at any time. Currently votes are locked after a fixed period of time, so it would not be fair to reduce people's reps without allowing them to rethink their votes to figure out if they really meant it.
There is already a system in place to reduce impulsive punitive behavior. The number of flags that any person can raise is limited. But this measure is not effective in a high-controversy low-population community such as this one.