Sen. Orrin Hatch: I Am Re-Committing to Civility

Restoring civility in American politics was one of the three pillars of the 2017 Mackinac Policy Conference. This pillar encouraged business and civic leaders to shape public discourse to restore the art of compromise for progress in today’s polarized political environment. The effort didn’t end at the Conference. As a To-Do list item, the Detroit Regional Chamber will continue to encourage civility in the Detroit region. This article, originally published via news outlets and other websites, is an example of others in the community joining the movement to promote civility.   

From Time Magazine

By Sen. Orrin Hatch

June 28, 2017

An active shooter recently attempted to assassinate Republican members of Congress at an early morning baseball practice in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. Days earlier, a man spewing anti-Muslim hate speech fatally stabbed two individuals on public transport in Portland, Oregon. The month before, protesters came to fisticuffs at dueling political rallies in Berkeley, California.

Events such as these add to the growing sense that something has broken in our politics. Something that once moderated our partisan feelings and bridled our baser instincts has gone missing in an era of unprecedented polarization. Something fundamental to our civic culture has been lost amid the chaos and disruption of the Information Age.

The question is, What has been lost?

In a word: civility.

Civility is the indispensable political norm. It is the public virtue that has greased the wheels of our democracy since its inception. Although nowhere mandated in our Constitution, civility is no less essential to the proper functioning of our government than any amendment, court ruling or act of Congress. Without it, little separates us from the cruelty and chaos of rule by force.

For decades, civility has acted as the levee protecting our society from its own worst impulses. But that levee now shows signs of strain as political passions spill over into open violence.

In the wake of the attack on members of Congress, I have reflected at length on the circumstances that led us to this point. While it may be difficult to trace the erosion of civility to any single factor, one thing is certain: Our nation cannot continue on its current path. Either we remain passive observers to the problem, or we endeavor to act, to make the necessary changes — in ourselves, in our families and in our communities — that will lead to a more civil, prosperous society.

MORE: Civility in American politics is part of the 2017 Mackinac Policy Conference To-Do List. Learn more about the list and see the other to-dos here.

Restoring civility to the public square won’t happen overnight — but it must happen.

The first step is to speak responsibly.

Our words have consequences, and in an age of retweets, viral videos and shareable content, those words often echo well beyond their intended audience and context. It’s incumbent on all of us, then — from the President to Congress on down — to be responsible for our speech.

I will be the first to admit to saying things over the course of my public service that I later came to regret. In the heat of an argument, it’s easy to indulge in irresponsible rhetoric. But we must avoid this temptation. Whether in town halls, casual conversations with neighbors or posts on social media, we must likewise refrain from dehumanizing, demeaning or unfairly disparaging the other side. And we must resist the impulse to frame every tiny policy disagreement as a zero-sum struggle for the soul of the country. We must restore sense, decency and proportion to our political speech.

The second step is practicing media mindfulness.

Just as the food we eat affects the body, the information we consume affects the mind. The daily consumption of media that presents only one political viewpoint — whether conservative or liberal — cocoons the mind in a safely sealed ideological echo chamber. An imbalanced media diet shrinks our perception of reality, which in turn limits our capacity for empathy and our ability to engage civilly with others.

To better understand how the other side thinks and feels, we must make a conscious effort to diversify our media intake. This exercise in empathy may not heal decades-old political divisions or usher in a post-partisan age. But it will at least help us break free from party groupthink and be better prepared to engage in civil debate with friends and neighbors.

The next step toward civility is to venture beyond the comfortable confines of our social circles.

Americans today are much less likely to marry, date or even live near people of the opposing party. Increasingly, we sort ourselves by ideology and lifestyle — a phenomenon that only increases polarization over time.

How can we expect to engage politically with members of the opposing party if we don’t even interact socially with one another? Like limiting our media consumption, only associating with those who hold our same values and opinions distorts our perception of the other side. It has an “othering” effect so severe that Republicans and Democrats — freedom-loving men and women who share the same country and many of the same values — increasingly see each other as enemies.

In the spirit of civility, we would all do well to make friends with members of the opposing party. I speak from personal experience.

When I first came to Washington, the culture of Congress was vastly different than it is today. There was a level of respect and congeniality among colleagues that was hard to find anywhere else. Some of my best friends were Democrats. One moment, we would be yelling at each other on the Senate floor; the next, we would be laughing together over family dinner. In those days, Republicans and Democrats locked horns often, but we also loved each other.

I worry that those special relationships have been lost today. In 2017, Republican and Democratic Members of Congress seldom socialize outside of votes and committee hearings. We used to break bread together; our spouses used to plan weekend trips; our children used to attend the same schools. But today, our families barely know each other — if they know each other at all. In the weekly race to return to our home states as soon as possible, we miss out on opportunities to share with one another the more intimate, humanizing parts of our lives. As a result, something vital has been lost. We now struggle to see the common humanity in the other side, and we increasingly treat each other as opponents rather than friends.

I’m grateful for the late Senator Ted Kennedy, who taught me that the bonds of friendship are stronger than any partisan pull. When I first joined the Senate, I thought Teddy would be an adversary. Instead, we became the best of friends.

Teddy and I were a case study in contradictions. He was born into privilege; I was brought up in poverty. He was an East Coast liberal; I was a Reagan conservative. He was a Catholic; I was a Mormon. Yet time and again, we were able to look past our differences to find areas of agreement and forge consensus. Had Teddy and I chosen party loyalty over friendship, we would not have passed some of the most significant bipartisan achievements of modern times — from the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to the Ryan White bill and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

My unlikely friendship with Ted Kennedy is but a small example of what our nation can accomplish if we choose respect and comity over anger and discord. Only by doing so can we look beyond the horizon of our differences to find common ground.

Today, I want to make a personal commitment to exercise greater civility in my day-to-day interactions with fellow Americans; I hope you will join me in doing the same.

Read the original op-ed here.

More on civility in politics:

Column: Let’s improve our civility in discourse

Michael Beschloss: Effective Leaders Embody Guts, Persuasiveness, Sense of History and Civility

Column: Let’s improve our civility in discourse

Restoring civility in American politics was one of the three pillars of the 2017 Mackinac Policy Conference. This pillar encouraged business and civic leaders to shape public discourse to restore the art of compromise for progress in today’s polarized political environment. The effort didn’t end at the Conference. As a To-Do list item, the Detroit Regional Chamber will continue to encourage civility in the Detroit region. This article, originally published via news outlets and other websites, is an example of others in the community joining the movement to promote civility.   

From The Detroit News

By Anne Mervenne and Steve Tobocman

June 22, 2017

We are inspired and encouraged that restoring civility in American politics was one of the three pillars at this year’s Detroit Regional Chamber Mackinac Policy Conference. Daily, if not hourly, our airwaves and computer news feeds are filled with cringe-worthy words, images and actions. Insulting commentary is reported and repeated. Hurtful words and deeds are liked, promoted and shared.

Yet, we see hope. Since its founding in 1992, the Michigan Political Leadership Program, one of the nation’s only bipartisan training programs which is at home in Michigan State University’s College of Social Science, has recruited, trained and, hopefully, inspired public policy leaders. Each year, MPLP offers 24 MPLP Fellows, from all the political spectrum, the vision, commitment and skills to govern from the grassroots and local office to the state Capitol.

Realistically, it will take more than a single discussion to end hyper-partisanship and restore a sense of civility. We must start by building civil habits early in political careers and encouraging leaders to live and treat others as they would seek to be treated, a kind of political “golden” rule.

As co-directors of MPLP, we offer a hopeful outlook.

MORE: Civility in American politics is part of the 2017 Mackinac Policy Conference To-Do List. Learn more about the list and see the other to-dos here.

We strive for civil conversations in a multipartisan learning environment that takes our MPLP Fellows from hands-on visits to corporate headquarters, to tours of communities they’ve never visited, to the sharing of personal revelations.

We ask fellows from opposing parties to overnight together as part of routine MPLP experiences. We ask them to host events and complete assignments together, regardless of political party.

We know their success stories: MPLP graduates make up 10 percent of the seats in the last three Michigan Legislatures. MPLP ranks include such notables as Aaron Payment, chairman of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel and Ken Cockrel Jr., former Detroit mayor and city council member.

Civility and bipartisanship start at home — at the local level and in our state Legislature.

Equally notable are hundreds of MPLP Fellows who occupy village, city, county, school and even precinct offices. In our first-ever research of the fates of our MPLP graduates, we have found that MPLP Fellows are twice as likely to run for public office and three times as likely to win as those equally rated applicants who haven’t taken part in the program.

We are truly proud to say that nearly half go on to hold elective or appointed office.

The Detroit News recently asked: “Can Mackinac confab make political civility cool again?” The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Bureau Chief Gerald F. Seib has also asked: “Civil Discourse in Decline: Where Does It End?”

Read the original article here.

More on civility in politics:

Michael Beschloss: Effective Leaders Embody Guts, Persuasiveness, Sense of History and Civility

Ron Fournier

Associate Publisher
Crain’s Detroit Business

Editor-in-Chief National Journal

Ron Fournier is an award-winning and nationally-acclaimed political columnist and associate publisher of Crain’s Detroit Business. He is known for his hard-hitting reporting on Congress, the White House, and both major political parties. Fournier is a 20-year veteran of the Associated Press, where he covered the administrations of former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush before being named Washington bureau chief. He is the co-author of “Love That Boy: What Two Presidents, Eight Road Trips, and My Son Taught Me About a Parent’s Expectations.”


Changes on the Horizon

Former U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr. speaks on current state of affairs and potential changes ahead in political world 

By Daniel A. Washington 

After spending 10 years in the U.S. House of Representatives as a Democratic Party member, Harold Ford Jr. has become a regular contributor on MSNBC and CNBC discussing policy and politics.

No stranger to Michigan’s Center Stage, Ford spoke with the Detroiter before this year’s Mackinac Policy Conference, where he will again be appearing — this time on the political climate of the nation ahead of the upcoming presidential election.

What is the most relevant issue facing American politics today that didn’t exist 25 years ago?

I think that the one thing that threatens the fabric of the country more than anything today is the uneven distribution of wealth. I see Democratic candidates always talk about it, but it’s truly a serious issue. I’m really not sure how we sustain a society that has such a disparity. I think we’re not doing enough in the short term or immediate term. We’re not doing enough in the schools. Investments need to be made, and they aren’t happening fast enough.

What does Donald Trump’s success mean for the two-party system?

His success is going to change it; he is not a typical Republican or conservative. Early in his campaign he took on the feelings and sentiments of Fox News and super PACs. I think that many people support him because he’s the voice of many who think that  things are wrong with what is going on in American politics.

Regardless of (whether) he is worth $5 million or $10 million, he’s worth more than the average American family, so people are looking to him as someone who can get things done. Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” is really something many Americans can relate to, and I can’t blame them. I think Trump’s success should put to bed naysayers of the notion that the two-party system is weak.

How must American politics progress to engage the millennial generation as they age?

I differ with the proposition. I think that millennials are like any other group of people. You must closely look at them and see how to engage. I think that if you look at the last three cycles — led by Obama and others — millennials were really active. President Obama’s presidential bids showed that he was new and fresh and that people really wanted something different. He wrapped his campaign with technology in regard to raising money and getting his message to the masses.

Even though I’m a Hillary Clinton supporter, there’s a tremendous amount of millennial energy around the Bernie Sanders campaign. I think like with any group, you have to speak to what they care most about. Oftentimes, people discredit millennials’ position on issues as being too extreme and unrealistic, but I think we have to aim extremely high and make our leaders continue to think bolder and bigger to deliver results.

What do you think of the media’s role in the presidential election thus far?

The press focuses so much time on each candidate that sometimes it makes the race feel like forever. We’re just getting into voting, but so much has been covered that it makes the voter disinterested and fall in and out of the race. I hope as we get closer (to the election) the real issues take main stage, whether that is taxes or education.

What will be the legacy of President Obama years from now compared to when he departs office?

I think that the biggest thing in regards to his legacy is what the Affordable Care Act will look like in four or five years. I think the momentum won’t subside, but instead increase as we get smarter and make the cost of care cheaper and more affordable. In recent days, we’ve seen big health providers withdraw from certain parts of the Act. I think the president will be looked upon favorably in terms of health care because he was aggressive in pushing it and helping stabilize coverage for the nation. In four or five years, we’ll see how the deal with the  Iranians really panned out, as well. Those two things really stand out to me in terms of his legacy.

What is your take on the federal government’s role (e.g., EPA and congressional hearings) and response in the Flint water crisis?

What happened in Flint is an inexcusable abomination. I think the bulk of responsibility rests with state officials and leaders. I think that if the state reached out to the EPA and others and didn’t get responses, then they too should be held responsible. I think that if you were in a community with higher income and more affluent jobs, we would have found and seen a different response to such a tragedy. I think that class is a large reason as to why it happened. I think, ultimately, the accountability and responsibility rest with the state officials first and foremost.

Daniel A. Washington is a marketing and communications coordinator at the Detroit Regional Chamber.

Auburn Hills City Councilman Kevin McDaniel Named to Elite 40 under 40 List

Auburn Hills City Councilman Kevin McDaniel Named to Elite 40 under 40 List

Auburn Hills, MI—February 14, 2013—The City of Auburn Hills, a dynamic community committed to innovation and growth, is pleased to announce that Auburn Hills City Council member Kevin McDaniel, 34, has been recognized with Oakland County Executive L. Brook’s Patterson’s Elite 40 under 40 award. The Elite 40 highlights 40 thought leaders under the age of 40 who live and/or work in Oakland County and is designed to help them make connections that can positively impact the future of the County.

McDaniel is a fourth generation resident of Auburn Hills. He was first sworn in as a City Councilman for Auburn Hills in November 2007 at the age of 28 and was most recently re-elected to his second four-year term in November 2011, claiming the highest votes of all candidates.

“We are proud of Kevin’s accomplishments and the recognition his efforts bring to Auburn Hills,” said Auburn Hills Mayor, Jim McDonald.

McDaniel’s commitment to public service traces back to 2003 when he began serving the City of Auburn Hills as a police officer. While in this role, he was chosen as one of four officers to represent Oakland County assisting the New Orleans Police Department with relief efforts following Hurricane Katrina.

McDaniel has also served on numerous city boards, including the City’s Tax Increment Finance Authority, the Public Safety Advisory Committee and as Council liaison on the Tax Incentive Review Committee, which revamped the city’s tax incentive policy to help boost development.

McDaniel is employed by Pfizer as a healthcare consultant serving the Detroit metropolitan area. He was recently honored as one of Pfizer’s top employees, receiving Pfizer’s prestigious “Summit Award”.

McDaniel holds a Bachelor’s degree in business, with a concentration in information technology, from Oakland University. He and his wife Erika are raising the fifth generation of Auburn Hills’ residents, daughter Addison, 3, and son Kailer, 1.

Click here to view McDaniel’s full biography and the complete list of Elite 40 honorees.

About the Elite 40 under 40
L. Brooks Patterson established the Elite 40 under 40 award to recognize young thought leaders and trail blazers who live or work in Oakland County and are under the age of 40. The Elite 40 program is dedicated to helping these individuals make connections that can impact the future of Oakland County.

About Auburn Hills
Celebrating 30 years as a city in 2013, Auburn Hills is home to 21,000 residents and also serves as Michigan’s global business address, with 40 international corporations from 32 countries housed here, including Chrysler Group LLC and Borg Warner headquarters. Auburn Hills’ residents enjoy the amenities of city and suburban living with parks, a revitalized downtown district and a welcoming city complex with a library and community center. Additionally, the city has five colleges and universities, the award winning Palace of Auburn Hills entertainment complex and Great Lakes Crossing Outlets, one of the state’s largest destination shopping centers, providing a variety of cultural, social and educational opportunities to residents, workers and visitors. Learn more at