Initiative in step with nearly 8 in 10 Americans frustrated by tone of political discourse
Responding to Americans’ growing frustration with campaign rhetoric and the tone of the national discourse, the Knights of Columbus today launched a national, non-partisan initiative to give voice to Americans’ desire for civility in public discourse.
A series of full-page national newspaper ads – beginning with an ad in today’s issue of USA TODAY – will encourage readers to sign the online petition at www.CivilityinAmerica.org. Facebook users can show support by “liking” the petition at www.Facebook.com/CivilityinAmerica.
The petition reads:
“We, the undersigned citizens of the United States of America, respectfully 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 American people want and deserve civility and a conversation on the issues rather than personal attacks,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “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. 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.”
The campaign finds support in a Knights of Columbus-Marist Poll conducted this month that shows that nearly 8 in 10 Americans (78 percent) are frustrated with the tone in politics today. The survey also found that:
- • Nearly three-quarters of Americans say that campaigns have gotten more negative over the years (74 percent).
- • Two-thirds of Americans (66 percent) believe that candidates spend more time attacking their opponents than talking about the issues.
- • By a nearly 20 point margin, Americans believe that campaigns are mostly uncivil and disrespectful (56 to 37 percent).
- • And nearly two-thirds of Americans say that negative campaigning harms our political process a great deal or a significant amount (64 percent).
The telephone survey of 1,010 adults was conducted from July 9, 2012 through July 11, 2012. It has a margin of error within +/- 3.0 percentage points.