6 Ways to Show Civility
Feb. 1, 2016
With the Iowa caucuses here, we are reminded of the opportunity we have to leave a lasting impression on our fellow Iowans and on our out-of-town visitors. We can help positively shape the stories about each person’s Iowa caucus experience by demonstrating civility.
While it is easy to get caught up in the energy of the election season, we urge Iowans to express their passion for specific issues and candidates in a respectful manner. Remember that everyone has a different life experience and therefore a different lens through which to see the world. We believe that influencing others and moving conversations around critical issues forward in meaningful ways requires respect for others.
Freedom of speech is an indispensable American value, and we have an incredible opportunity to use our freedom of speech to affect the future. Here in Iowa, we are privileged to have many opportunities to meet presidential candidates and surrogates, and to be at the heart of political discourse. As the four civic organizations that comprise the Show Some Respect campaign, we encourage Iowans to be civil. Let’s show the world more of that “Iowa nice.” Hopefully others, including the candidates, will follow our lead.
Here are six ways to demonstrate civility during election season:
1. Be honest (with others and yourself) about the information you distribute regarding candidates, policies and opinions. There is no shortage of inflammatory materials online. Look to make sure the information is coming from a reliable source before you click “share.”
2. Be tolerant of other viewpoints. You do not have to agree with another person’s beliefs in order to show them respect. Remember, just because you are passionate about an issue doesn’t make you right.
3. Be careful to not incite political arguments that you know will hurt other people’s feelings or damage relationships. Keep in mind that not everyone enjoys debating the issues.
4. Take time to learn about the candidates and the issues. Get information from reliable sources. Don’t rely on negative advertising or social media to research the candidates. Learn about the candidates from non-partisan sources.
5. Consider what is best for the community when you vote. It may not change the way you vote, but consider all viewpoints before you make a decision.
6. If you aren’t sure what to do in a tricky situation, remember to treat others the way you want to be treated.
By: Jay Byers, CEO, Greater Des Moines Partnership; Kristi Knous, president, Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines; Scott Raecker, director, The Robert D. and Billie Ray Center, Drake University; Connie Ryan, Executive Director, Interfaith Alliance of Iowa