One year ago, I joined Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (D-OH) and former Congressman Pat Tiberi (R-OH) to participate in the “Setting the Table for Civility” program, organized by the Faith and Politics Institute and the National Institute for Civil Discourse.
During the conversation, we talked about how we were able to work together as Representatives for Central Ohio, despite coming from different backgrounds and not agreeing on every issue.
We talked about how the rise of social media and the anonymity it allows has led to a breakdown in civil discourse. And we talked about the importance of bringing civility to the forefront of discussion for our colleagues on Capitol Hill.
This conversation led to Congresswoman Beatty and me taking on a bold new initiative to show our communities and colleagues that we can disagree without being disagreeable: The Congressional Civility and Respect Caucus.
Our vision for this Caucus, which we rolled out in January, was to bring together our colleagues from both sides of the aisle to spread the message of civility in our districts and in Washington.
We didn’t want to avoid disagreements. Instead, we wanted to encourage having civil conversations and listening to each other, because often the conversations alone makes us better.
Now nearly a year into our effort, we have visited schools, businesses, and civic organizations together, and have recruited Members of Congress – who must join with a Member from the opposing party – to join us in spreading this message in their respective districts.
Moreover, we have partnered with the Honor and Civility Caucus, and Civility Caucus to host events for Members of Congress on Capitol Hill.
Unfortunately, last month, we saw the ultimate result of incivility: acts of violence. With bomb threats against former presidents, elected officials, public figures, and news outlets, and a mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue, we saw incivility at its worst.
The bottom line is that violence CANNOT be the answer, and we as a nation need to come together and not allow political or policy disagreements lead to violence.
That’s why this Thanksgiving, as we gather with our friends and families, I am calling on everyone to bring civility to their Thanksgiving table.
We can be from different backgrounds, have different beliefs, belong to different political parties, and still treat each other with respect and be civil.
We have so much to be thankful for and celebrate in America – especially our freedoms and opportunity – and we need to focus on these values that unite us as we engage in tough conversations about issues in our country.
I hope you will join me in the effort to revive civility. By working to spread this message together in our homes, schools, and places of work, I believe that we can make a difference.
From my family to yours, I want to wish all of the constituents of Ohio’s 15th Congressional District a Happy Thanksgiving.
Steve Stivers (R-Upper Arlington) represents Ohio’s 15th Congressional District.