Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Organization aims to bring civility back to American politics

At a time where political tension is sky-high and rudeness in public discussion is almost the norm, one group is encouraging Americans to be more respectful of each other. The nonpartisan National Institute for Civil Discourse, based at the University of Arizona, urges elected officials and citizens to disagree with each other with civility, Katie Zezima reports for The Washington Post.

"It’s not the difference of opinion on policy that makes us bitter," NICD's executive director Keith Allred told Zezima, "but thinking they’re a bad person."

Gabrielle Giffords
NICD was created in 2011 after a shooting in Tucson killed six people and wounded 13, including then-U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. One NICD program, called "Next Generation," works with state legislators to show them how to work across the aisle. Another, "CommonSense American," educates voters on issues and on how to better engage with lawmakers and other citizens, Zezima reports.

"Polls show that Americans want to see a return to civility," Zezima reports. "Ninety-one percent of registered voters said the lack of civility in politics is a 'serious problem,' according to a 2018 Quinnipiac University poll. Sixty-eight percent of those surveyed in a Pew Research poll from July said it was 'essential' for people in high political offices to maintain a tone of civility and respect in politics."

Former Senate Majority leader Tom Daschle, a Democrat from South Dakota, is co-chair of the institute's board. NICD matters, he said, because Americans must be more civil to each other in disagreement if the country is to survive. "It's about keeping this republic," he told Zezima.

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