by Countable | 6.27.17
In the aftermath of this month’s tragic shooting at a congressional Republican baseball practice, lawmakers in both parties were calling for more civility in politics and now some are backing up their words with action while others are rededicating themselves to the cause. More than half of the freshman class in the House has now signed a "Commitment to Civility" pledge, in which they’ve committed to help combat bitter partisanship by working with respect and civility to be more productive members of Congress.
"We are dedicated to showing proper respect to one another and all others, encouraging productive dialogue and modeling civility in our public and private actions. While we may vehemently disagree on matters of law and policy, we will strive at all times to maintain collegiality and the honor of our office."
Many members of the freshman class had already signed the pledge back in February, but after their colleague Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) (who remains in fair condition) was shot by a progressive activist, the lawmakers wanted to draw attention to the pledge and rededicate themselves to its principles.
"Our mutual intent was to do what’s right for the American people, regardless of party. All of us can stand on our core principles, our core philosophies," pledge author Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) told reporters this week. “I’m one of the most conservative members of the Congress, but I know when someone is arguing another point of view on a measure or bill or agenda item, that they’re an American too. They’re a fellow American, they’re my colleague, they’re my brother and sister in that regard.”
In the wake of the shooting, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have openly discussed the death threats they’ve received. While some are asking party leaders to use campaign accounts to pay for private security and others are asking for more security while in Washington, these lawmakers say elected officials need to change their tones to be an example to voters.
"My friend and my colleague Tom Garrett (R-VA) from Virginia 5, he’s actually been threatened with his life. I’ve been called ‘Satan,’ but guess what folks? No one in the Congress has done that," Rep. Donald McEachin (D-VA) told reporters. “Part of this discussion has to be about our constituents. Whether they voted for us or not, sometimes our constituents need to help us dial it back. There’s no reason to threaten Tom Garrett or his family, there’s no reason to call me ‘Satan.’”
The Bipartisan Policy Center has dubbed this the "summer of civility," and the group is asking lawmakers in both parties to send out videos focusing on their commitment to be civil, which they hope will trickle down to voters nationwide.
Contact your lawmakers using the Take Action button and let them know if they should sign the pledge!
— Matt Laslo
(Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force - Staff Sgt. JG Buzanowski / Public Domain)
Written by Countable