New bipartisan group dedicated to 'civility' in politics launches
This week, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle will come together in hopes of building a better working relationship.
This informal group hopes to inspire Congress to set aside tensions and build a more positive tone - something they hope can trickle down to state and local governments, too.
“We don’t have to agree on everything, but if we disagree, we can do it without being disagreeable," said Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL).
Congressmen Charlie Crist and Mike Johnson are teaming up to launch the Bipartisan Honor and Civility caucus.
Crist, a Democrat and former Florida governor, says it’s time to hit the re-set button in politics.
“We all have a part in this and that part can be contagious - kindness should be contagious and the world needs a lot more of it," said Crist.
The movement began when Louisiana Representative Mike Johnson encouraged fellow first-time Congressmen to sign a pledge, vowing to start a fresh chapter on Capitol Hill.
“We made a commitment that we would try to change the tone in Washington, that we would treat one another with basic dignity and respect," said Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA).
Johnson says while this group will start with informal meetings and building rapport, he hopes it can lead to bipartisan policy discussions as well.
A political scientist in DC says this is a good starting point.
“There should be some sense of sportsmanship within this world of politics…and understand how to shake hands with your opponent when the game’s over," said Lara Brown, director of the graduate school of political management at George Washington University.
Brown says tensions have intensified in recent years because of dynamics.
Her research finds the nation is close to an even split between Democrats and Republicans and that can lead to less compromise.
“When each side is in the minority, they say to themselves, ‘it’s better to be an obstructionist and try to win it all, get back the majority, then it is to compromise and try to work with the other side," said Brown.
The new caucus holds its first meeting Wednesday.