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May 2012

Greetings!

We welcome you to the third edition of "Frankly Speaking," the official newsletter of the National Institute for Civil Discourse! We are a national, nonpartisan center for debate, research, education and policy generation.  

 

Visit http://nicd.arizona.edu for more information.

 

Welcome Gabby Giffords!

 

It has beeTrey Graysonn an honor for me to serve on the National Board of the Institute since its inception. I want to share an exciting addition to the National Board - my friend, former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords.

 

Gabby and I met in 2005 when we were both named Aspen Institute-Rodel Fellows in Public Leadership. This fellowship identifies young elected officials committed to sustaining the vision of a political system based on thoughtful and civil bipartisan dialogue.

 

At the time, Gabby was a Democrat and was serving as Arizona State Senator but had her eyes on a 2006 Congressional campaign, which she eventually won. I was a Republican, and was serving as Kentucky's Secretary of State. We quickly became friends and supporters and crossed party lines to cheer for each other in our respective races with encouraging emails and text messages.

 

The day that Harvard announced my appointment as the Director of its Institute of Politics, I sent an email to many of my closest friends with the great news, including Gabby.

 

Gabby wrote back that night, Friday, January 7th, 2011. I remember reading the message to my wife Nancy as she was driving us to Birmingham to watch the University of Kentucky play in a bowl game. We were both excited to hear from Gabby and her husband, Mark Kelly.

 

In the message, Gabby congratulated me, and added, "After you get settled, I would love to talk about what we can do to promote centrism and moderation. I think that we need to figure out how to tone our rhetoric and partisanship down."

 

"Mark and I will come visit after you get settled. Again, congratulations. This is truly an incredible opportunity that will lead to wonderful things."

 

While Gabby, Mark, Nancy and I haven't had a chance to get together for that visit, I know that we will. In the meantime, I am excited that we are going to be able to work together to accomplish her goal to "tone" our rhetoric and partisanship down" through the National Institute for Civil Discourse.

 

Welcome to the Board, Gabby!

 

Inside the Institute: Ann-Eve Cunningham

The Director of Development Ann-Eve CunninghamNational Institute for Civil Discourse welcomes Ann-Eve Cunningham as the Director of Development. In her new position, she will reach out to donors and prospective donors across the country to ensure the Institute can accomplish the long-term effort of social change. According to Cunningham, "One of the Institute's key strategic priorities is to build a strong endowment.  I look forward to working with friends of the Institute to accomplish this important goal."
 

For the past three and a half years, she has worked as the Director of Development for the Arizona Public Media - PBS and NPR for Southern Arizona, which she states, "has been an extraordinary experience." Prior to that, she was the director of Development for Dr. Andrew Weil's Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. Cunningham has spent many years volunteering and working for various non-profits including the American Red Cross. She graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelors of Arts in Communication and a minor in Political Science.

 

A supporter of the Institute from the beginning, Cunningham is excited to take on her new role and work towards a more civil discourse throughout politics and society in general. Growing up with various family members involved in politics on both sides of the aisle, she has witnessed the decrease in civility and communication among our nation's leaders. 

 

Cunningham believes it's time to return to collaboration and compromise. She believes the Institute "holds the promise of bringing real statesmanship and collaboration back to government - and hopefully impacts our broader society by raising expectations on behavior in general and communication in particular."

 

Aside from her work with Arizona Public Media and the National Institute for Civil Discourse, Cunningham is also a professional photographer. Her work is in private collections worldwide and one of her long term projects documents the people of the West African nation of Liberia as they recover from a 15 year civil war.

 

 

Civility Matters: Congress to Campus

D. Skaggs (D-CO) and J. Porter
D. Skaggs (D-CO) and J. Porter (R-IL) hold a cookie cake that was given to them by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Arizona.

The National Institute for Civil Discourse sponsored Congress to Campus on November 13-15 in Tucson Arizona.

 

Sunday, November 15, kicked off the events with a community presentation at the Scottish Rite Temple. Congressmen Skaggs and Porter presented on the Common Ground Project and took questions from the audience.

On Monday, November 14, the Congressmen visited Catalina Foothills High School and spoke to 400 high school students about politics, lobbyists and elections. The Congressmen spent most of their time at Catalina Foothills High School

answering students' questions before they moved on to Osher Lifetime Learning Institute (OLLI).

 

OLLI is a non-profit organization located at the University of Arizona that provides workshops, classes and other events for individuals 50 years of age and older who want to continue their education. For more information on OLLI, click here. The Congressmen and OLLI members discussed civil discourse and its place in politics, campaign finance and lobbyists.

 

 

Concord Coalition's Phil Smith and Paul Hanson along with Congressmen Skaggs and Porter held two separate budget simulations with graduate and undergraduate students. The presentation was part of Concord Coalition's program that they present all over the country to help participants better understand how Congress decides the federal budget. Participants were divided into small groups and each group was given a list of items they had to vote on to try and balance the budget.
 

In between the graduate and undergraduate budget simulations, the Congressmen presented to an introductory Public Administration survey class about why they chose to enter politics and the most rewarding and frustrating aspects of their careers. The Congressmen presented on their backgrounds and political experiences. Afterward, they took questions from the students and discussed public service, the importance of political cooperation and how taking action can make a difference.

 

The final Congress to Campus event was held on Tuesday November 15. Congressmen presented a Public Finance presentation to a Public Finance class. The Congressmen presented on the budgetary process at the federal level and the current short term and long term budget problems the country faces.

Congress to Campus reached over 700 people in the Tucson community. After the different presentations, many of the students and participants commented that after listening to the Congressmen they will start to participate in upcoming elections. They said they would research the issues more and start contacting their Congresspeople to hold them more accountable.

Education on civility and learning how it affects our political system is key to creating more civil discourse. Over the past several months, the National Institute for Civil Discourse has sponsored various activities that brought the Tucson community and the University of Arizona students into the discussion on civil discourse including Congress to Campus and the Civility in American Democracy forums.

 

The Institute partnered with the University of Massachusetts, Boston to hold the Civility in American Democracy forums via webcam. There were four different forums throughout the day: Civility and Morality, Civility and the Pursuit of Truth, Civility and the Media, and Civility in American Democracy. University of Arizona undergraduate students participated in the various forums and sent in questions to the panelists while graduate students helped facilitate the discussions.

 

Graduate student Carli Brosseau made several observations about the panels and the students' reactions to them.  She observed that the students noted a shift of the definition of civility over time. The students believe that incivility today is seen in tone and the scope of issues that are debated in public discourse. The students believed that forming a group around a certain position and using it to advance their policy could affect the current tone of politics.

 

 

 

Civil Champions: Anderson Family Foundation

Joe Anderson and Mary Dewan

The Anderson Family Foundation's support of the National Institute for Civil Discourse is rooted in the founder's disdain for divisive and hateful rhetoric and his own experience negotiating "across the aisle" with state and federal officials.

 

As deputy director of the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) in the 1980s, Joe Anderson was a member of the Democratic administration of then Gov. Bruce Babbitt.

 

"We had to work with a Republican controlled state Legislature and we negotiated with members of the Reagan Administration," according to Joe.  "There was no name calling.  No disrespect.  We had differing points of view but we all understood that we were there for the benefit of everyone."  

The Anderson Family Foundation's support of the National Institute for Civil Discourse is rooted in the founder's disdain for divisive and hateful rhetoric and his own experience negotiating "across the aisle" with state and federal officials.

As deputy director of the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) in the 1980s, Joe Anderson was a member of the Democratic administration of then Gov. Bruce Babbitt.

 

"We had to work with a Republican controlled state Legislature and we negotiated with members of the Reagan Administration," according to Joe.  "There was no name calling.  No disrespect.  We had differing points of view but we all understood that we were there for the benefit of everyone."    

 

Joe was born and raised in Prescott and is a third generation Arizonan.  During his 20-year career in state government, Joe held executive positions including deputy director of AHCCCS, and the departments of Administration, and Economic Security.    

His wife, Mary Dewane, also had a successful career in health care.  A native of Wisconsin, she is a former CEO of a southern California health plan.  Her federal and state health care career includes executive positions with the Office of Medicaid Managed Care for the Health Financing and Administration, U-Care, the HMO sponsored by the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinic in Madison, Wisconsin, and the Bureau of Health Care Financing in the Wisconsin Department of Health and Social Services.       

 

During his professional career, Joe received several awards for his efforts to help the disabled and those in need.  Among the awards are the Stuart A. Westbury, Jr. Community Leadership Award for outstanding leadership in the health care industry from the Arizona State University W. P. Carey School of Business, a Lifetime Achievement Award from United Cerebral Palsy of Central Arizona for his effort to establish Arizona's Long-Term Care Services for people with disabilities and the work Schaller Anderson did nationwide to support people with disabilities.    

 

Joe and Mary have been promoting discussions of public policy issues affecting the common good in intellectual, scholarly ways through the Ryle Fund.  The Anderson Family Foundation's support of the National Institute for Civil Discourse was a natural progression.       

 

"John Kennedy and Barry Goldwater could discuss issues and walk away, perhaps not friends but respectful of each others' opinion.  They lived in a time when people could talk without name-calling, debate without hatefulness, and express their feelings without being rude.  That's where I hope the Institute leads us."    

 

Joe, his daughters, Debbie Matwijkow and Monica Finnegan, and his son, Jacob, serve as directors of the Anderson Family Foundation. 

 

 

 

Speak Out Survey: Let Your Voice Be Heard

In your opinion, do negative campaign ads help create incivility or is it just a part of the campaign process?

 

1. Yes, it creates incivility.

2. No, it does not create incivility.

3. It is a part of the process of campaigning and should be left alone.

4. It is a part of the process of campaigning but it needs to be changed.

5. Other:

 

To record your answer, click here.

 

 

 

Facing Facts

January 8 2012 marked the year anniversary of the tragic shooting that took 6 lives and wounded 13 others. The weekend was filled with events in memory of those who passed and honoring the long road to recovery by those who survived. After the shooting, Tucson pulled together as a community and is stronger for that. The following are articles by various news sources about the anniversary and the impact of the shooting over past year.

 

Arizona Republic Star, December 28, 2011

"Gabrielle Giffords is Republic's Arizonan of the Year"

 

It began almost a year ago. Horror struck instantly. Courage endured through a painstaking recovery that was powered by love and astonishing doses of determination.

 

What happened to U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is well known. It has been humbling and inspiring to see her beat the odds every step of the way back. But it isn't just one person's story.

Read more 

 

Special for the Republic, December 30, 2011

"Putting people first and politics second" by Bill Clinton

 

President Bill Clinton, honorary co-chairman of the National Institute for Civil Discourse at the University of Arizona, taped the following remarks for the televised forum "For Our Future: A Conversation Inspired by Christina-Taylor Green."

 

Since I left the office of the presidency I've had the privilege of working with President George H.W. Bush on many things, including the National Institute for Civil Discourse, where I think it's safe to say we are both honored to serve as honorary chairs.

 

We don't agree on everything and we have a good time with the occasional argument, but we do agree that when you put people first and politics second, you can learn a lot and make real progress.

Read more 

 

The Arizona Republic, December 31, 2011

"After shooting near Tucson, civil discourse still elusive" by Shaun McKinnon

 

The finger-pointing started before authorities had even confirmed that one of the victims of a shooting rampage near Tucson was Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

 

The gunman was clearly motivated by negative election rhetoric, the voices behind the fingers said. The political website with the crosshairs, the campaign event with guns. Nonsense, other voices insisted. The website, part of Sarah Palin's efforts to support candidates, was never intended to evoke violence.

 

Read more 

 

Special for the Republic, January 4, 2012

"Students provide hopeful, compelling message for future" by Fred DuVal

 

As parents we all seek to raise our children to be mindful of the "sandbox rules:" learning to share, to listen, and not ridicule others for their differences, but we don't always demonstrate these values as adults.

 

It's all too evident in political debate among elected officials and between leaders and their constituents. Parties and candidates are rewarded for hardened language that seeks to move beyond debating facts to questioning the character and core legitimacy of those who argue them. Constituents emulate these "leaders" behaviors. Comments under news articles or blogs earn "thumbs up" for what would be considered name calling on the playground. Does it do any harm? That may be debatable. Does it move us forward? No.

Read more 

 

The Arizona Republic, January 5 2012

"Arizona political leaders discuss importance of civil discourse"

 

The tragic shootings near Tucson a year ago that claimed six lives and wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 12 others raised numerous issues, including the tone of today's political debate.

 

In a live chat Wednesday at azcentral.com, U.S. Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz.; Jim Pitofsky, board member of the National Institute for Civil Discourse and Chief Strategy Officer of the Arizona Community Foundation; and Richard H. Carmona, former U.S. surgeon general and Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, joined moderator Chad Graham for a discussion about civil discourse.

 

Here are highlights of that discussion:

Read more 

 

USA Today, January 1, 2012

"Anniversary of Giffords shooting in Arizona reopens wounds," by Dennis Wagner

 

TUCSON - One year ago this Sunday, a lone assassin walked up to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords outside a suburban supermarket and shot her in the head, then continued blasting away at others who were waiting to see the congresswoman.

 

It's an anniversary that no one in Arizona wants to celebrate but all will remember. 
 
 
 
 

The Last (Civil) Word ... A Closing Note From Our Director, Brint Milward

Brint MilwardThe first anniversary of the Tucson tragedy was a very hard one for those of us who were friends with many of the victims like Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Judge John Roll, and Gabe Zimmerman.  The most important thing that happened over the first anniversary is that Tucson as a community is strong and beginning to heal.

 

As the director of a national institute that focuses on politics and governance, I found David F. Levi's article, "The Constitution on Your Corner," to be very powerful and I would like to share it with you.  It captures the way in which our constitutional design plays out informally at the local level and in so doing, puts what happened on January 8, 2011, in a Tucson Safeway parking lot, in a larger context of how our government and those in it actually collaborate to serve the interests of citizens of this great country.

 

To read the article, click here.  

 

 

 

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