Civility Project leaders weigh in on presidential debate

Updated: October 01, 2020 05:44 PM

The first presidential debate left many feeling disappointed or disgusted, after the two candidates spent a good deal of time insulting eachother or interrupting.

"There was no reason that it should have been allowed to continue any longer than the first five minutes," shared Anita Stech. "It was clear what was going to happen, and nobody was reaching their goals."

"The cost of incivility for the audience watching it on television, was we weren't able to get any real information about what the candidates' positions were," added Rob Karwath.

Both of them helped create Speak Your Peace: The Civility Project. This simple program has been in place at many of the political debates in the Northland for the past ten years. It grew out of a particalarly ugly debate at the DECC, where Congressman Jim Oberstar and challenger Chip Cravaack were often booed on the stage.

It's a pledge that the candidates take, where they agree to nine simple rules, like show respect, and pay attention. The audience is also given out a flyer reminding them about the nine rules.

"What's really important here is expectation setting, that we're all here for a reason and abide by the terms of the civility certified program, to help us interact better together," Karwath said. "We want people to be able to speak. But we want to keep it from slipping over the edge to incivility."

They'll be sharing more about The Civility Project with the Presidential Debate Commission. "We want to offer our help, where we can," Karwath added.

Stech hopes this program can help in other community forums as well. "You shouldn't have to worry about getting beaten up verbally, whether you're at a meeting about school boundaries or mining."

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