Ohioans ought to feel honored in a way — but challenged in another — that two national organizations have made the state a key to campaigns for civility in politics.
Both the Better Angels and National Institute for Civil Discourse groups are launching initiatives in the Buckeye State. Better Angels kicked off its One America bus tour in Waynesville on July 4. NICD chose Ohio, Arizona, Iowa and Maine for a series of projects.
Incivility is nothing new in American politics. It dates back to debates about the very question of whether, more than two centuries ago, our ancestors would separate from Great Britain. It sometimes is forgotten that many of the very behaviors we criticize today, ranging from partisanship among some in the news media to violent rhetoric by candidates and officials, was much worse at times in the past.
Nevertheless, it is clear the stridency of condemnations of those with different points of view has become a barrier to good government. Initiatives such as those by the Better Angels and the NICD are aimed at improving the situation.
Buckeye State residents have a relatively good record in keeping it calm in politics. Ohio, after all, is the state whose governor, John Kasich, was able to describe himself as “the adult in the room” during the 2016 Republican presidential primary campaign.
Local residents can note with some pride the number of elections after which opponents whose differences on the issues were on the night and day level praised each other for courteous campaigning.
It is not always so, however. On occasion, sometimes using surrogates, candidates in Buckeye State elections sink to personal attacks and accusations that opponents “don’t care” about people.
Still, the record in Ohio is good in comparison to what too often is seen elsewhere.
Residents and candidates in the state should take pride in that — but, more important, resolve to make the state a model for how political discourse should be conducted.