Former Lawmakers Recommend Civility

The temperatures are dipping and the leaves are turning, but in an election year, autumn is not exactly a pleasant time for politics. It's traditionally full of October surprises, where candidates attempt to release unflattering information about their opponents close to Election Day, in an effort to gain a few percentage points in the polls, at times unconcerned with collateral damage.

This October, only a few days in, has already seen candidates attacking each other with choice language and one could hardly call the current political climate, with all of its mudslinging, angry words, and increasingly hysterical campaign ads "polite."

And now 130 former members of Congress are saying: knock it off.

The former lawmakers delivered a letter last week - to every member of Congress - condemning the "divisive and mean-spirited" political climate they believe has emerged, and pleading for civility in the halls of Congress.

"The goal often seems to be more to devastate the other side (the enemy, no longer the honorable adversary) than to find common ground to solve problems, much less to have a spirited but civil debate about how to do so," the letter reads.

The letter, signed by 130 former Congressional lawmakers, was spearheaded by a new group, Former Members of Congress for Common Ground. The organization is led by former Reps. John Porter (R-Ill.) and David Skaggs (D-Colo.).

The letter pleads for Republicans and Democrats to work together on the problems facing the nation, especially in advance of the midterm elections.

The group says that politicians who "exceed the bounds of normal and respectful discourse" are treated as "celebrities" and rewarded with TV appearances and internet fame, while those who try to calmly work with both sides of the aisle are summarily dismissed.

"Lawmakers who try to address problems and find workable solutions across party lines find themselves denigrated by an angry fringe of partisans, people unhappy that their representatives would even deign to work with the enemy," the letter says. "When bipartisan ideas are advanced, they are met by partisan derision."

The former lawmakers also warn that without a change in rhetoric, critical problems facing the country may never be solved.

"Without action by both parties to work together to address the problems that face our country through serious, respectful and civil discussion and debate," the letter concludes, "the prognosis for our politics - and with it our economic health and our security - is grim."

A stern warning - but polite, to the end.