Politics is naturally contentious. People depend a lot on their political context; they want things like stability, safety, liberty, healthy environments, opportunities, etc, that can only be granted by and through the other citizens around them, and thus can only be effectively regulated and structured by a government. So all decisions that might incur political or social change — i.e., all political decisions — create stress and conflict. The political realm (as Arendt pointed out) is the one realm where we cannot exert sure control, because we have to rub shoulders with other people who also want to exert sure control. It is inherently risky and threatening, so people will get emotional about it.
Negativity is part of that; it can't be avoided.
What can be avoided (or at least moderated) is personalization: that ad hominem tendency to make dispositional statements about a person or group, instead of talking about issues or behaviors. This kind of personalization comes in two problematic forms:
- Statements of bias, in which someone imposes innate characteristics on a person or group
- Statements of offense, in which someone claims they are being personally attacked by a factual or otherwise non-biased statement
The core of both these points is the Fundamental Attribution Error: the well-documented tendency for people to interpret the behavior of psychologically distant people as matters of disposition or personality, while interpreting the behavior of psychologically close people as matters of situation or context. Thus, when someone hears about a stranger shoplifting, they might say "Pah! What kind of a person steals from stores?" (a dispositional assessment), whereas if their best friend gets caught shoplifting, they'd say "Oh, he's not that kind of person; he was just doing it for a lark." (a situational assessment).
Attribution is an important part of our lives; we are always looking to attribute a cause to the events we experience. For instance, if we wake up one morning and discover that a brick has gone through the windshield of our car, we naturally want to know whether that brick fell off a passing truck (attributing the event to misfortune) or whether it was thrown by an angry neighbor (attributing the event to malice). However, short of an outright confession or a description by a witness, we generally can't know what the cause was, so we have to make our best assessment. It's in this moment of assessing the situation that the attribution error can creep in.
A forum like this is ripe for attribution error. Almost everyone we encounter is psychologically distanced; most people have a 'side' they've already picked; lots of people are more interested in 'scoring points' than in formulating a proper question or answer. Some people are unaware that they've made an attribution error, while others explicitly make attribution errors, because they are upset, or malicious, or otherwise trying to harm people for their own satisfaction. But interestingly, these too are attributions about the other posters on the site that we should be wary of. Things can get very tangled if we're not careful.
The best thing to do is avoid dispositional claims. We can make inferences from behavior — we need to make inferences from behavior, or we can't talk about anything at all — but we have to make the behavior and context clear, so that the inference is natural. This is true whether we're writing the content of a question or answer, or writing a response to another poster. Many (if not most) people will overtly try to make the discussion about dispositions, because it's easier to argue in the black-and-white world of innate dispositions than in the gray-scale world of contexts and inferred attitudes. All we can do with that is refuse to play the game: keep drawing it back to behaviors and inferences, and sooner or later the other person will either get it, or get so frustrated that they cannot provoke an argument that they'll go away.
I could say more, but I already feel like I'm wandering a bit.