United We Stand, Divided We Fall

Posted by on June 26, 2017 at 1:08 PM

By Dr. Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer, National Institute for Civil Discourse 

Yesterday, the country was stunned by the violent attack on members of the US House of Representatives who were practicing for this week’s charity baseball game, a tradition dating back to the early 1900’s. It brought Washington up short, and there was more discussion of unity and family then we have heard in a long time.

Speaker Paul Ryan took to the House floor to remind us that we are “one family”, and President Trump noted that “everyone who serves in our nation’s capital is here because, above all, they love our country.” Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX) put it best when he noted that “We have an R or a D by our name, but our title is United States representative.”

America cannot continue to mourn one day and be back attacking each other the next. It isn’t good for the country and only serves to deepen the divisions that we have let grow and flourish.

The ‘freshmen’ members of the US House of Representatives (those elected for the first time to the House in November, 2016) made a bold statement in January when they put forth their Commitment to Civility and took to the House floor to explain why they united in this cause. The Commitment states, in part that “Although we represent both political parties and a wide range of individual views across the political spectrum, our common and sincere aims are to serve the needs and interests of the American people, to work with one another and the leaders of our respective parties to encourage greater confidence in our institutions, and to set an example of statesmanship for the younger generations of Americans that will follow. “

If history is anything to go by, the horror of yesterday’s shooting will fade and members of Congress will be back at each other’s throats. It is fine to vigorously debate and make one’s points, but name calling, threats and loud voices aren’t going to convince people to vote for or against an idea, but civil discussion, a debate on the issues — not personalities — just might. So I am asking that Congress, in light to yesterday’s tragedy and in an effort to move forward together as a country regardless of whether we are Republicans Democrats or Independents take the Freshmen Commitment to Civility to heart, sign on and help our country move forward toward a better tomorrow.

Dr. Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer is the Executive Director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse, an organization that works to reduce political dysfunction and incivility in our political system. As a leader in the field of deliberative democracy, she works to restore our democracy to reflect the intended vision of our founding fathers. 

This blog has been reposted with permission. Original content can be found here.