The “big news” here in Tucson over the weekend was the announcement of National Institute for Civil Discourse with sponsorship by former presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton. The new organization
National Institute for Civil Discourse (See here.) initiatives will include:
- Convening major policy discussions with elected officials, policymakers and advocates on topics that tend to generate polarized positions.
- Promoting civil discourse, civic engagement and civic leadership.
- Organizing workshops and conferences in Washington, D.C., Tucson and across the country.
- Promoting a national conversation among prominent public figures from government, business and media regarding challenging political issues in a non-partisan setting.
- Developing programs and research centered around the exercise of First Amendment freedoms conducted in a way that respects both the ideas of others, and those who hold them.
When you read the description and listen to the interviews with its directors Brent Milward and Sally Rider there’s no indication of how this institute is supposed to actually have any effect on the civility of political discourse. In the absence of a defined methodology this is simply another way to burn public funds and let political luminaries pose as saintly examples of polite politics and publicly lacrimonious sympathizers for victims of an ugly crime.
My suggestion to make the new organization really effective is to draft Sheriff Dupnik as an enforcer. He would be tasked to arrest, jail and in some cases even torture anyone accused of “uncivil discourse”.