The National Institute for Civil Discourse (NICD) announced a new grassroots civility initiative in Ohio and three other states to help train citizens to learn the skills to improve public and political discourse.
The announcement came as NICD Executive Director Carolyn Lukensmeyer joined a panel on civility at the Columbus Metropolitan Club, along with former U.S. Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD) and former U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ).
The Ohio campaign will be chaired by former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Yvette McGee Brown and former Attorney General Jim Petro. Along with grassroots initiatives in Arizona, Iowa and Maine, the Ohio effort will aim to proactively train 100,000 citizens on skills to improve discourse. NICD said civility experts will work to engage 100 partner organizations to build civility and communities in each state.
NICD noted a number of incidents which it said were part of a “volatile stretch of incivility,” including threats and shoving between Texas state lawmakers, newly-elected U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT) assaulting a reporter the day before the election and the shooting of U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), the U.S. House majority whip.
At the Columbus Metropolitan Club, Lukensmeyer said the shooting of Scalise was the first time the NICD effort received national attention. She said while there have been successful stories about civility efforts on the local level, there has not been a national story of success, and said it was sad that it took a tragedy to bring a national spotlight to the effort.
She said incivility “is like a virus among the American people.”