Greta Van Susteren in the lead article in this newsletter argues that, "...in recent years, for many, it seems that journalism has morphed from a checkpoint on our politicians and thus our democracy into something that is counterproductive - an effort to destroy by insults and lack of civility." We certainly agree and would extend her critique to politicians who run overwhelmingly negative campaigns, tarring their opponents while avoiding a serious debate over the differences between their positions and those of their opponents. They do our democracy no service.
The National Institute for Civil Discourse is an advocate for what is best in our political life the demand from principled journalists that political leaders explain themselves and not hide behind slogans or ad hominem attacks on opponents or the attempt by political leaders to explain their positions and stands even in the face of angry voices trying to drown them out.
We are not trying to be the "civility police." The First Amendment protects free speech and is the hallmark of our democracy. Our right to free speech gives us the right to advocate for a more reasoned and less inflammatory rhetoric in political discourse just as it gives critics of civility the right to warn of the dangers of civility becoming a form a censorship.
We believe that good governance is a product of the clash of ideas and values in the political arena.Our founders fashioned an arena with plenty of ways for power to check power.Unless one believes that one set of interests or ideas can prevail over others for long periods of time, we need to listen to our opponent's arguments and look for areas of common interest, not because we want to, but because the structure of our government with its checks and balances demands it if we are to govern this country effectively.