George Smith: Candidates should make a pledge for civility

Wed, 2017-11-01

The Maine Civility Initiative is long overdue. The National Institute for Civil Discourse at the University of Arizona is working with the Maine Development Foundation and the League of Women Voters on this grass-roots initiative, which was created to “revive civility in Maine and three other states,” hoping to “engage 100,000 citizens to learn the skills to improve public and political discourse.”

In today’s dysfunctional, turbulent, and angry political environment, this is a tough challenge. Civility is defined as courtesy and politeness, a polite act or expression. Seems easy enough, you think?

Well, not if it has to start at the top. I think the initiative’s decision to focus on the grass roots — you and me — is wise.

The initiative hopes to host 400 conversations on building civility, engaging those 100,000 people in Arizona, Iowa, Maine and Ohio. The Maine initiative is chaired by Pamela Plumb, a business consultant and former Portland mayor, and Ryan Pelletier, the Aroostook County administrator.