(EWTN) With nearly 80 percent of U.S. residents expressing frustration over the tone of political discourse, the Knights of Columbus have launched an initiative to restore respectful and thoughtful discussion.
“The American people want and deserve civility and a conversation on the issues rather than personal attacks,” Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said in a July 26 statement about the new “Civility in America” campaign, which includes an online petition and a series of full-page national newspaper ads.
“In our own lives, all of us have friends with whom we disagree, and we long ago learned how to have civil relationships despite our differences,” observed Anderson, who heads the Catholic charitable and fraternal order.
“Since our elected officials work for and represent the American people, this petition is a step forward in making our voice heard and in making clear to our public servants how we would like them to conduct themselves,” Anderson said.
By putting their names to the petition, U.S. citizens can “request that candidates, the media and other advocates and commentators involved in the public policy arena employ a more civil tone in public discourse on political and social issues, focusing on policies rather than on individual personalities."
“For our part, we pledge to make these principles our own,” the declaration states.
A July 2012 Knights of Columbus-Marist poll found that 78 percent of people in the U.S. are frustrated with the tone of current politics. According to 74 percent of Americans, campaigns have become more negative over time.
Two-thirds of respondents said candidates spent more time attacking their opponent than addressing issues of concern. A majority of Americans, 56 percent, say campaigns are mostly uncivil and disrespectful.
Negative campaigning of this kind significantly harms the political process, 64 percent of respondents told the Knights of Columbus-Marist researchers.