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Tell Your Reps: Should Congress be More Civil?

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)

Countable

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(246)
  • Jennifer
    06/27/2017
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    Democrats and Republicans alike have to stop acting like the other party is a mortal enemy. You are Americans representing Americans. One country. One law. Start acting like adults instead of children fighting in the sandbox about whose shovel is bigger.

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  • wedensmore
    06/27/2017
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    Republicans need to remind themselves that, although they re the majority, they were elected by a minority. They need to be humbly looking towards the Democrats for a true and representative government. And, while a quasi Republicans, the President and his administration represent no one but themselves.

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  • VSB
    06/28/2017
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    I think 45 needs to act more civil! His insulting tweets need to stop. He also needs to stop calling the media the enemy and he needs to tell his son, Eric, that people who disagree with his father are not "subhuman." Civility starts at the head, not at the bottom. I also think the GOP need to stop treating Dems like the enemy. Working behind closed doors on a health care bill without bipartisan representation is not okay. Please tell Mitch that. Not listening to Senator Warren is not okay. Respect must be mutual and must be required by the house and senate leaders. Respect is keeping an open mind and listening to opposing view points. President Lincoln knew this and deliberately gathered opposing view points. 45 should model his behavior after the former great Republican leader, President Lincoln, and so should congress.

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  • HardcoreModerate
    06/28/2017
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    You want your constituents to be less hostile? Try actually listening to them and acting like you care about their concerns. Even if you don't agree, a little empathy goes a long way. And whatever decisions you do make, make it clear that they're helping the country, not just scoring points for your team.

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  • Scott
    06/27/2017
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    On a side note it's so time for term limits in Congress, and even though it's a lifetime appointment it's time for age limits on the Supreme Court.

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  • Deirdre
    06/27/2017
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    I think the way both democrats and republicans are treating each other is disgusting. The fact that these people actually are swearing and using degrading language concerns me. The total lack of respect towards each other is contributing to America's downfall. I know the president has no manners which is awful but let's not all go down that avenue. I believe one can get their point across and still be respectful.

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  • Jackie
    06/27/2017
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    As far as I'm concerned, both parties are worthless. For years, I've believed a third party would weaken the country, but perhaps it's time. We could have the Conservative, Liberal, and Moderate Parties. The Moderates could get the work of the country done while the Conservatives and the Liberals continue tearing each other apart. Evidently, the GOP and Dems never learned to play nice with others while they were in kindergarten.

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  • Sharon
    06/28/2017
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    Before the days of Newt Gingrich, officeholders and candidates for office spoke about and explained their positions on issues of the day that affected the nation. Under Gingrich's guidance, personal attacks by innuendo, rumor, inflation, and distortion became - previously considered contemptible - became acceptable if an opponent could be injured. Worse, dishonesty in the form of carefully crafted "explanations" and "proposals" that are so vague or offered in language intentionally designed to camouflage true effects and goals seem to be rolled out with the same shrug of the shoulders given legislation and tax policies that benefit special or self-interest rather than the nation. Today, it seems no behavior is too low if a political advantage is gained or political goal achieved. Sadly, many in the American public seem so numb to politically motivated dishonesty, hypocrisy, and deliberate cultivation of disdain or hatred for people who hold views different from ones own that these previously criticized behaviors barely get noticed. A far cry from the days when getting caught telling flagrant lies could end a political career. Please work to return more ethical behavior and issue-focused, civil interaction to political activity.

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  • Joy
    06/28/2017
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    Being a part of the government means representing the people and what is best for all. It does not mean seeking revenge or gaining wealth. It means teamwork and respect. There is too much at stake for childish and selfish behaviors and at worst, illegal acts. Please remember the people and our wishes!!!

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  • Kimberly
    06/27/2017
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    The leaders of our country need to understand leadership is not fighting and calling names. Good leaders don't come up with the best 15 second quip to get on TV. Good leaders lead by example. They listen, seek to understand others and the problem. Finally, They work with all parties to come up with a solution. Good leaders don't look to shame, belittle, name call or thump their own chest. If you're not a good leader, become one. If you are unable to be a good leader, do not run for office again.

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  • Oscar
    06/27/2017
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    Be more mindful of the needs of the people and not of the campaign donors. Host town halls and not listen to lobbyists as they represent what's wrong in American politics

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  • Joan
    06/28/2017
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    Do any of you remember the shooting just two weeks ago? What is the matter with you, especially in the GOP? You are doing everything in a partisan way and completely leaving the Democrats out of any hearings or discussions about bills that affect our lives, literally! You are all hurting this country and following this president's lead and dividing us. It is leading to hatred and violence, and it starts at the top. But the GOP is in Congress are acting like children who will not share the ball because it belongs to them, and everyone suffers. Bring this country back to gather, in spite of this president. His inaugural speech promised he would work to take care of all Americans, but he has done nothing except pander to his radical base and you are following right along with him and causing even more division in our country. Get it together! Start putting your country first and worry about your partying later. You should be ashamed of yourselves. And you cannot use the excuse that the Democrats did it when they had the upper hand in healthcare, because we all know that they had open hearings and accepted amendments from the GOP. Shame on you all, GOP.

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  • William
    06/28/2017
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    We need the Golden Rule Act, simple and with only one line.

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  • Joanne
    06/27/2017
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    Yes. And work in a bipartisan way. That is what we want. And it is the lack thereof that makes us distrust all y'all! Grow up and do your job.

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  • mikesindahouse
    06/28/2017
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    I find it repugnant that it took a man, who was so fed up with Republicans that he decided his best course of action was to shoot at them, to force our lawmakers on both sides to wake up and start listening to their constituents who want both parties to be involved in the decision making and who by and large are not happy with the legislation currently undertaken in Washington. This "let's promise to be civil" sounds great and hopefully they will be, but that doesn't necessarily mean they will work together. I think every bill introduced without bipartisan sponsorship should require at least 10% vote in favor from outside the sponsoring party, and no bill should pass either the house or the senate without a 60% majority. Some would say that nothing would get done, but in reality things would have to get done and our reps would be forced to work together and compromise. Maybe then the laws being passed would be fair to all Americans, instead of just the 1%. The laws of our country can indirectly kill Americans, either by allowing our air, our water or our food to be poisoned, by making poor people go without food or health insurance, by denial of climate change and thus increasing the chances of adverse major weather events, discrimination against minorities, religions, and sexual orientation. These are just a few examples of the way the laws and policies being championed by Republicans are literally harming everyday Americans. How immoral is that. I do not and would never condone the shooter's actions. Not just because assault and attempted murder is immoral, but also because threatening, harming, or killing elected officials undermines our democratic processes (not that other forces aren't also undermining our democracy. E.g. Russia, Citizens United, Corporate Lobbyists, to name a few), but if I had to guess why this man was driven to such a deplorable act, for him it was probably life or death.

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  • Lisa
    06/28/2017
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    I used to say rise above it. NOW I say when 45 can rise above it then I will. It was ok to see for 8 years the republicans. could not be civil but now we all should be civil. Please, we are in the fight for our democracy. Get some balls and start fighting for our rights! We will overcome.

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  • Judith
    06/28/2017
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    CONGRESS NEEDS TO STICK TO THE FACTS !!!! SAME WITH TRUMP AND HIS WHITE HOUSE !! PASS A LAW MAKING NONFACTUAL STATEMENTS, AND IN ALL BROADCASTS, IN ELECTION CAMPAIGNS, A VIOLATION OF FEDRAL LAW WITH A FINE OF HALF OF THEIR YEARLY PERSONAL INCOME AND INCOME FOR THEIR CAMPAIGN !!!!! INCLUDING ESPECIALLY ANY ORGANIZATION THAT CALLS THEMSELVES NEWS AND ANY ONE THAT CALLS THEMSELVES JOURNALISTS !!!! PASS A LAW FORCING PUBLICATIONS AND ALL MEDIA THAT PUBLISH OR BROADCAST IN ANY WAY, ANYTHING THAT IS NOT FACTUAL AND NOT NONPARTISAN, TO STATE IN THE BEGINNING ON THE FRONT PAGE IN BOLD LETTERS ON ALL OF THEIR PUBLICATIONS AND BROADCASTS THERE AFTER, THAT THIS PUBLICATION AND BROADCAST IS STRICTLY NONFACTUAL FANTASY ENTERTAINMENT !! PUT IN PLACE AND GIVE OVERWHELMING POWER TO, AN ORGANIZATION THAT IS PROTECTED FROM POLITICAL INTERFERENCE THAT ENFORCES THESE LAWS OF INFORMATION RESPONSIBILITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY TO WE, THE HIGHEST AUTHORITY IN THE LAND, THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA !!!!! ALSO, PASS A LAW REQUIRING, AND ENFORCING, BY FEDRAL LAW, ALL EDUCATIONAL FACILITIES ACROSS THE NATION, TO HAVE A FACT BASED CURRICULUM !!!!!

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  • Susan
    06/28/2017
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    When Trump starts acting like an adult with civility, honesty and integrity I believe the country will follow. I'm not holding my breath. It's important to remember that an organization, in our case country, is a reflection of it's leader. With Trump's approval rating at 20% and falling globally, the trust and respect for the US is not in a good place. We have Trump to thank for that. Sigh!

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  • William
    06/28/2017
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    The founding fathers expected Congress to be contentious. Nowhere in the founding documents, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights is the word civility used or required. Congress and the executive branch are behaving just like the rest of the citizenry. We have only to watch television to see how ridiculous society acts on a regular basis. Why would we expect the people we elect to act any differently. If we the citizenry, would like our elected representatives and executive branch to act differently, we must require that through action at the polling place.

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  • Jeanne
    06/28/2017
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    Yes Congress should be a good role model. They should not only treat one another with respect, they should cut the inflammatory and rhetoric that is only a thinly-veiled insult to those who did not vote for them or think as they do. They should model real leadership and get things done that really matter and make a difference.

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