Pushing back against the alarming rise of harsh political discourse, a national group is looking to foster agreeable disagreements starting with a grassroots initiative in four states including Ohio.
The National Institute for Civil Discourse announced Wednesday during a Columbus Metropolitan Club event that the project would entail the proactive training of 100,000 citizens in Arizona, Iowa, Maine, and Ohio “to learn the skills to improve public and political discourse.”
During the next year, the group will team with 100 partner organizations with a target of “400 conversations,” NICD said. The League of Women Voters will take a lead role in the initiative.
The Ohio campaign will be chaired by former Democratic Ohio Supreme Court Justice Yvette McGee Brown, and former Republican Attorney General Jim Petro.
“Incivility is spiraling out of control,” NICD Executive Director Carolyn Lukensmeyer said in a statement. “Our democracy depends on our ability to peaceably debate our differences, find common ground, and move forward with solutions to confront our nation’s challenges. We must take action to revive civility so that we can strengthen our institutions for future generations.”
The group cited recent incidents of “incivility,” including threats and shoving between lawmakers on the floor of the Texas Legislature, U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Montana) assaulting a reporter over a question on the eve of his special election, and the recent shooting at a Washington, D.C.-area baseball practice for members of Congress that led to the injury of U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana) and four others.
“We all have to work together to improve the dangerous political tenor that threatens democracy at every level of government.” LWV President Chris Carson said. “As a non-partisan organization, the League looks forward to working with the National Institute for Civil Discourse on this initiative to train citizens to have productive, respectful, and peaceful political discussions in their own communities.”
The CMC event featured a panel discussion with former U.S. lawmakers Tom Daschle and Jim Kolbe, both advisory board members of NICD.