Making Democracy Work

Civil Discourse Initiative

Civil Discourse Initiative

At the Civil Discourse Initiative Study Group meeting on August 16, the group discussed the various resources for facilitating constructive public discourse described in the LWV San Luis Obispo Civil discourse Handbook. Over the next months, the Study Group will review recordings of local public hearings to assess the state of civility in governmental bodies in Orange, Durham, and Chatham Counties. Many of our local government groups have adopted rules of conduct, which we will review and compare to the resources in the LWV San Luis Obispo Handbook. With this information, the group will work on setting LWVODC's civil discourse goals to prepare for the 2020 election cycle. In the near term, since civil discourse starts at home, the group will prepare a Civility Resolution for approval by the LWVODC Board, to be presented to the membership as a guideline for personal growth.

Upcoming Meeting

January 17, 2019
6 to 8 pm
Conference Room of the Robert and Pearl Seymour Center
2551 Homestead Road
Chapel Hill, NC


As we begin 2019, we are confronted with a fluid political scene that reflects the polarization of the United States. The new year promises to be challenging for North Carolinians, with implementation of the new voter ID law and the ramp-up to the 2020 election on the horizon. LWVODC will soon be embarking on its Program Planning for 2019-2020, and our planned efforts are likely to be impacted by the tribalism that's now rampant in political life. Since the League is a nonpartisan organization, we need to take care that our Program events remain unbiased and that our doors remain open to people of all political persuasions. We must learn how to cope with tribalism and incivility if they arise in our public events.

The LWVODC Civil Discourse Initiative provides a forum to teach members about methods for conducting meetings that manage incivility and to help ensure that our events constructively educate the public about important political issues. The CDI's first meeting of 2019 will be on January 17 in the Conference Room of the Robert and Pearl Seymour Center, 2551 Homestead Road, Chapel Hill, NC, from 6 to 8 pm.

The agenda will include:
- Brief sharing session on examples of tribalism that we have encountered in our daily lives;
- Review of National Institute for Civil Discourse Small Group Discussion Guide (posted on CDI page of LWVODC web site)
- Evaluation of our responses to the shared tribalism examples in light of the Discussion Guide lessons
- Plans for further civil discourse training within LWVODC, and possibilities for expanding the training to local governments.

Please join us to plan for 2019!

Civil Discourse Monthly Conference Call

On March 4, 2019, Cheryl Graeve of LWVUS and the National Institute for Civil Discourse hosted a conference call that featured Pierce Godwin, a moderate conservative and director of the National Conversation Project. Pierce is the author of the paper Playbook for Engaging Conservatives. Cheryl's summary of the discussion is copied below.

In the call we: Learned ideas and language that helps engage conservatives from Pierce and are included in his paper Playbook for Engaging Conservatives

Discussed what are the key actions and behaviors that will build trust between people with very different political views

Touched on a question of if it would it be more helpful to talk about a wider range of categories than just "liberals" and "conservatives"? For example, see the seven categories reflected in the Hidden Tribes report published by the group More in Common? For those not familiar with the report, their categories are: Progressive Activists (8%), Traditional Liberals (11%), Passive Liberals (15%), Politically Disengaged (26%), Moderates (15%), Traditional Conservatives (19%), and Devoted Conservatives (6%). We may consider additional discussion of this on a future call.

Mentioned tools for National Week of Conversation - April 5-13th encouraging each one on the call to strengthen personal capacity to listen and discuss across differences by finding someone of a different life experience to have a one on one conversation with. Petti's League is using that week to interview and engage different groups to hear what voters want as we go into upcoming elections.

Next regular monthly call - scheduled for Tuesday, April 9th - at 12:00 (Noon) Pacific. We will continue the conversation with a cross partisan pair of state legislators who have worked across the aisle and trained other state legislators to create a more civil environment among policy makers. Please register here for that video conference call.