Civility Project Dies for Lack of Interest, Civility

Friday, 14 Jan 2011 04:37 PM

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The organizers of the Civility Project have called it quits after spending two years to get just three politicians to sign on to a pledge to treat people of opposing viewpoints with respect. The move comes as the nation continues to focus on the harsh political landscape in the wake of the Tucson shootings.

Mark DeMoss, an evangelical Christian, and Lanny Davis, who is Jewish and a former aide to President Bill Clinton, founded the organization in 2009. Of the 585 governors and members of Congress the group contacted, only Sen. Joseph Lieberman, a Connecticut independent; Rep. Frank Wolfe, R-Va.; and Rep. Sue Myrick, R-N.C., signed the pledge.

“I must admit to scratching my head as to why only three members of Congress, and no governors, would agree to what I believe is a rather low bar,” DeMoss wrote to the three, according to The New York Times. The 32-word pledge said, “I will be civil in my public discourse and behavior. I will be respectful of others whether or not I agree with them. I will stand against incivility when I see it.”

DeMoss told the Times that conservatives reacted the worst to the civility pledge, with “just unbelievable language about communists, and some words I wouldn’t use in this phone call. This political divide has become so sharp that everything is black and white, and too many conservatives can see no redeeming value in any liberal or Democrat. That would probably be true about some liberals going the other direction, but I didn’t hear from them.”

Nonetheless, DeMoss said he didn’t believe there was a connection between the Arizona attack that killed six and wounded 13 others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz. “Whether or not there’s violence, whether or not incivility today is worse than it’s been in history, it’s all immaterial. It’s worse than it ought to be,” he told the Times.

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