WBNS-10TV by Glenn McEntyre
Much has been made of the nasty tone of this year's election cycle.
Friday in Columbus, an effort got underway to bring civil conversation back to politics.
In an especially uncivil season, Friday at the Ohio Statehouse, came the call to do better.
"Our children are watching,” former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Yvette McGee Brown said. “And I think when we as parents or grandparents or just people who care about children, when you think about what they're seeing and the message that they're getting, we should all be a little embarrassed."
McGee Brown was among the headliners at a Town Meeting on civility in politics.
One of the groups supporting the effort is the National Institute for Civil Discourse, formed after the mass shooting in Tucson that injured Congresswoman Gabby Giffords.
"The community and university said we have to make something positive come out of this horrific tragedy,” Executive Director Dr. Carolyn Lukensmeyer said.
She says the toxic tone of political debate has alienated too many Americans.
"Once a person feels that kind of emotion, if they can't take an action, they disengage. That may mean they don't vote. That may mean they just give up on politics,” Lukensmeyer said.
Columbus City Council member Michael Stinziano sees it impacting local millennials.
"The median age of the city is actually 34,” he said. “And you just see all of this talent, this engagement, and people giving back, being involved. We have the largest young professionals organization in the country. Yet, that does not translate to civic participation in elections."
"We have to re-engage the American public to express how embarrassed they are, how frustrated they are, how disappointed they are. And help them understand they can do things to make a difference,” Lukensmeyer said.
To make that difference, she says start local- with your state leaders and members of Congress. Let them know your concern.
If citizens don't take back their politics, Lukensmeyer fears recent violence will only be a preview of the Republican Convention in Cleveland this summer.
"How do I stand up against that? It's very simple,” she said. “Not easy, but simple. You need to stand firmly to say this is unacceptable to me as an American."
Friday's discussion will be made available to Ohio schools, along with a curriculum on civility.
You can find out more information by clicking here or try a small group exercise by texting ‘Civility’ to 89800.