‘A Question of Respect’ — Must Read for Finding Political Civility

Oklahoma City – If your family is like mine, then there are stark differences in political ideology and views. I was happy we managed to avoid divisive conversations.

Having worked in politics my entire adult life, I have many friends with differing viewpoints.

One of the best missions I have found to help young people learn and hopefully respect other views is a program called the Oklahoma Intercollegiate Legislature (OIL).

This was a program created by college students in 1969, with the aid of then-Lt. Gov. George Nigh, allows college students from any higher education institution in Oklahoma to attend a five-day nonpartisan mock legislature conference at the Oklahoma State Capitol.

I made some of the best friends of my life through this program, including former state Representative Clay Pope, and newspaper publisher Paul Laubach, my roommates at my first session, who both encouraged me to get more involved in student politics at Oklahoma State University.

Through the years, the organization has turned out leaders such as former Attorney General Mike Turpen (D), former Congresswoman Kendra Horn (D), Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell (R), and North Carolina Speaker of the House Tim Moore (R).

One of the persons I respect the most in politics also came from this organization. I first met Ed Goeas at the 30th anniversary of OIL. Ed was the first two-term governor of the organization, hailing from Cameron University in the 1970s, and went on to make his mark in national politics following graduation.

Ed, a Republican pollster and a political strategist, was a national political director for the National Republican Congressional Committee for four years. He was active throughout the 1990s, working for the American Association of Political Consultants; serving as CEO for Tarrance Group, a political research firm; and participating in the ongoing bipartisan Battleground Polls, done with Democratic pollster Celinda Lake.

Through their work on the Battleground Poll, Ed and Celinda wrote a book about their experiences, what they are viewing in the political landscape, and what they hope will be a course correction in regaining civility in the political process.

I offer this excerpt from their book, A Question of Respect which was just published.

They write, “Life in America has become fractured — in public and private — across ever-widening fault lines of anger and incivility. The intensity of disagreement between Americans threatens the nation’s well-being, presenting itself as disrespectful and distrustful in politics, culture, and conversations. Confusion, frustration, and hatred permeate politics, social media interactions, and cable news. The dysfunction and distrust also appear on the streets and at dinner tables.”

As described on the book’s jacket, “A Question of Respect is not about polling — nor does it contain a magic antidote for America’s woes. Instead, it’s a political resource that depicts a compelling case for how the nation reached this moment and, more importantly, where it needs to go and what it might take.

“Though Ed is a Republican and Celinda is a Democrat, they have reached across the great divide to make the case that the only way for America to claw its way out of this mess is through mutual respect. They posit that respect is the foundation upon which we can again trust one another as Americans.” I agree.

Ed will be home in Oklahoma this upcoming weekend for book signings. On Saturday, December 3, Ed will be at Bliss Books and Bindery in Stillwater at 11 a.m., at Full Circle Bookstore in Oklahoma City at 3 p.m., and at Green Feather Book Company in Norman at 7 p.m.

On Sunday, he will be in Lawton at the Trophy Room starting at 1 p.m.

Please join me in reading this book and come meet Ed so he can sign your copy.

NOTE: The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy was established in 1983 by a group of citizens seeking to create a strong advocacy network that would provide a voice for the needs of children and youth in Oklahoma, particularly those in the state’s care and those growing up amid poverty, violence, abuse and neglect, disparities, or other situations that put their lives and future at risk. Their mission statement: “Creating awareness, taking action, and changing policy to improve the health, safety, and well-being of Oklahoma’s children.” Joe Dorman, chief executive officer at OICA, is a former state legislator. He was the Democratic candidate for governor of Oklahoma in 2014. Joe’s commentaries appear frequently on CapitolBeatOK.com, an independent, non-partisan and locally-managed news service based in Oklahoma City.