Civil Discourse

February 5, 2007:

We read about the climate of civility (at least as reported by the media) in the meeting between the president and the Democratic caucus last week. This motivated us to put our oar into the all-important waters of civil discourse. We think the amount of vitriol flying around last fall's election season only further disenchanted the general public and diminished it's already low level of trust in its government. And if our government is non-functional, then so are we. Derisive interaction is not in the public interest. Thus, we have elevated our focus on doing what we can to improve the quality of the nation's public discourse.

To this end, we are doing 3 things:

  1. We obtained a copy of the Code of Conduct agreed to in the fall of 2005 by public officials, candidates, the media, and organizations in Frederick County, MD. We have modified it so it can serve as a template at any level of community.
  2. We are compiling a list of media outlets, opinion makers, and party leaders at national and state levels. In March, we will begin sending this document, at a rate of 10 each month, with a request that the recipient use his/her influence towards the adoption of something similar before the next (and especially the 2008) election season. We will contact these people by mail, fax, and email with a followup phone call to endeavor to get attention to this issue. [You can help by e-mailing us suggested names and contact information.]
  3. We have joined Project Vote Smart and plan to volunteer there in the summer of 2008 for 2 weeks or so as we pass through Montana on our westward journey. Project Vote Smart is a citizen's organization which has developed a "Self-Defense System" to provide voters with the necessary tools to self-govern effectively. To wit, through their website it offers abundant, accurate, unbiased and relevant information on candidates and elected officials in five basic categories: biographical information, issue positions, voting records, campaign finances and interest group ratings.

"Democracy is a means of living together despite our differences. Democratic deliberation is an
alternative to physical violence. It is predicated on the assumption that it’s possible to disagree
agreeably, that it’s better to laugh than cry, that one can vigorously contest the positions of
one’s adversary without questioning his or her personal integrity or motivation, and that parties
to a debate are entitled to the presumption that their views are legitimate if not correct."
Thomas Mann


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