Sign The Petition

Resolved: Our Political Leaders Shall Take Responsibility for Polarization

Summary: We can fix our destructive political divisiveness starting with existing solutions that party leaders, elected officials, and candidates aren’t talking about. These leaders can set the expectation that elected officials work together, build relationships, and bring our communities together, and that candidates clash about ideas and not personal attacks and stereotypes. Sign the petition to demand that our parties accept responsibility for detoxifying politics by adopting a joint “House United Plank” for all party platforms or by mutually adopting any other written agreement this campaign season to turn the page on endless fighting and dysfunction. We further demand that candidates and elected officials express their views about polarization this year as a vitally important issue facing the nation and our communities.
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A Demand for Party Leadership

Political leaders should be working together to fix our broken politics. But they aren’t even talking about reducing endless hyper-partisan fighting, even though we have solutions. Let’s say something so they do something – petition party leaders, elected officials, and candidates to detoxify politics and celebrate America with all of us – rather than each party by themselves.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

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Note:  This petition was revised on July 12, 2024 to INCLUDE a CALL TO elected leaders and candidates COMPETING IN THE 2024 ELECTION SEASON.  Review tracked changes.

Petition

Our major parties are convening separately to draft national, state, and county platforms with competing visions for a deeply divided nation in 2024. In addition to their voicing political differences, however, we respectfully demand that party leaders, elected officials, and candidates pledge action on a mutual goal.

While a competition of ideas is healthy, we, the undersigned voters, demand that leaders from all parties also cooperate to speak with one voice about a single vitally important yet overlooked issue – accepting shared responsibility for fixing our toxic political culture.

Although partisanship and disagreement are normal in a free society, we describe our current contempt-filled politics as suicidal to our national union and republic:

  • That historic levels of polarization are blamed for governmental dysfunction and citizens’ lack of trust in the nation’s vital institutions such as elections and courts, and in each other as well-meaning neighbors and Americans,
  • That despite widespread awareness of this destructive problem, our political parties, candidates, elected officials, journalists, and citizens have collectively been derelict in the duty to confront hyper-partisanship and mutually destructive antagonism as a clear threat to our republic that we must solve as partners with united commitment,
  • That we have effective steps for establishing working relationships across political differences and instilling realistic mutual trust in public bodies and our communities. Yet our leaders do not confer about these detoxifying solutions, designed by bipartisan insider experts, nor do they acknowledge a joint responsibility to fix this problem.
 

Our birthright as a nation is a fragile common destiny that is threatened by fear of each other and complicity in dividing Americans into enemy camps for political gain.

With civic courage and imagination about solutions, our parties can lead the nation toward a more perfect union regardless of whether voters place them immediately in power. If they commit publicly to joint responsibility for detoxifying politics, they will assure that a renewed American spirit of solving problems together is spotlighted center stage this election season.

The undersigned voters therefore petition our major political parties to work with the other parties at the national, state, and local levels, on a mutual House United Plank in each party’s platform, or in mutual party resolutions, to take responsibility this election season for cross-party cooperation toward solving our entrenched polarization. We hereby come together across political differences to respectfully demand that our leaders – nationally, in our 50 states, and in our 3,143 counties – take this action as models for all political parties. We commend the plank’s suggested items (below) as a starting point for discussion.

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References

  • “…historic levels of polarization…” The Congressional Management Foundation, State of the Congress 2022, https://ourpublicservice.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/State-of-Congress-2022-PDF-FINAL.pdf (p. 4: “In the last few years, historic levels of polarization and hyper partisanship have led to the erosion of the public’s trust in the institution and a general feeling that those in Congress aren’t honest and that they don’t care about serving the people…the current climate of polarization and rancor make it difficult for Members and staff to speak out for change without fear of ridicule, or…even threats of violence against Members, staff, and their families.”)
  • FMC: The Association of Former Members of Congress, Congress at a Crossroads: Retiring Members of Congress Tell Us What’s Right, What’s Wrong – And How to Fix It (2020) https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5a43d8aa90bcce5858a40b47/t/6203fd3d94973c4a1ad0d662/1644428606518/FINAL+-+FMC+Legacy+Report+Official.pdf  (p. i: describing “A political process that encourages hyper-partisanship, places Members into opposing teams rather than encouraging collegiality, and prevents leadership from giving even the smallest victory to the other side”)

  • House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, Final Report for the 116th Congress, Chapter 2, Encourage Civility and Bipartisanship in Congress, (2020) CRPT-116hrpt562.pdf (congress.gov) (p. 83 “…this…generally dismal approval rating [of Congress] is often attributed to one thing: partisan bickering that undermines the ability of the institution to operate effectively for the American people. Partisanship is cited as the reason for gridlock, inaction, ugly campaigns, and vitriolic arguments seen everywhere from the House floor to social media.”)
  • See also Quinnipiac University National Poll (8/31/22) https://poll.qu.edu/poll-release?releaseid=3854 Question 21 (“Do you think the nation’s democracy is in danger of collapse, or don’t you think so?”)(69% of all polled, and 72% of registered Democrats and 70% of registered Republicans responded that there is danger of our democracy collapsing).
  • …effective solutions for establishing working relationships…” 1) House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, Final Report for the 116th Congress, Chapter 2, Encourage Civility and Bipartisanship in Congress, Recommendations at pp. 93-97 (2020) CRPT-116hrpt562.pdf (congress.gov) and Final Report for the 117th Congress, Chapter 5, Building a More Civil and Collaborative Congress, Recommendations at pp. 103-109, (2022) GPO-CRPT-117hrpt646.pdf (congress.gov) 2) FMC: The Association of Former Members of Congress, Congress at a Crossroads: Retiring Members of Congress Tell Us What’s Right, What’s Wrong – And How to Fix It (2020) https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5a43d8aa90bcce5858a40b47/t/6203fd3d94973c4a1ad0d662/1644428606518/FINAL+-+FMC+Legacy+Report+Official.pdf, Recommendations at Chapter 6, pp. 32-37, and 3) Braver Angels, a non-profit on a mission to bring Americans together to bridge the partisan divide and strengthen our democratic republic, https://www.braverangels.org including its Braver Politics initiative Braver Politics – Braver Angels

Suggested Items for the House United Plank

  1. That hyper-partisanship is a destructive force that threatens our sense of common destiny and union, inhibits cross-partisan collaboration and shared progress on public business, breeds cynicism, and undermines citizens’ trust in each other and in our institutions and leaders,
  2. That political polarization can be solved only by partisan Americans working together across political parties – joint deliberation is needed, and no party alone can depolarize politics,
  3. That the question of blame must be set aside to chart a better path together, and that bipartisan elected officials and citizens have already cleared the way to forward-looking discussion of solutions in their recommendations referenced in the petition,
  4. That these potential remedies, whether originating in the needs of Congress or local communities, demonstrate that partisans can work together on this issue productively, and their recommendations can be adapted easily to build collaboration, reduce polarization, and encourage public service in national, state, and local units of government,
  5. That although all sectors of American society are experiencing the toxicity of our political culture, they have been slow to address this entrenched problem, and our political leaders bear special responsibility to spearhead the political discussion, set civilizing expectations within their spheres of influence, provide models for citizens, and pursue shared progress to fix this obvious threat to our Union,
  6. That we find leaders and activists of good faith in both parties who can lead this effort and who would like to see pronounced relief from our toxic political culture,
  7. That at this dangerous moment it is important for elected officials to make depolarization an essential part of their public service, to show constituents (including those who didn’t vote for them) that all district residents are represented, to find responsible ways to disagree better without attacking opponents as enemies or stereotyping them or their motivations and values, and to promote and participate in bipartisan town halls and other community events that bring politically diverse officials and constituents together to demonstrate healthy deliberation,
  8. That the parties therefore acknowledge the dangers posed by hyper-partisanship, and pledge to American voters in a mutual House United Plank, or mutual resolution, that they accept joint responsibility for fixing our polarized political culture, and pledge to confer and work together to establish expectations and incentives in campaigns and government toward healthy debate and deliberation, to promote cross-party cooperation and the search for common ground, to lead their supporters to depolarize politics in public bodies and in our communities, and, in that way, to be this generation’s national, state, and local founders of a more perfect Union.

Social Media Post Example

Suggested share language: I’m sharing this because the politics of dividing us into enemy camps is destructive and our leaders are avoiding the issue rather than fixing it. If you agree that our parties should serve all of us, or you are fed up with endless fighting, please sign the petition to demand that party leaders cooperate in their political platforms this election season to accept joint responsibility for fixing our polarized politics. https://braverangels.org/detox-politics/

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