Civil Discourse in an Era of Incivility Begins at Home

With the rancor of the 2016 elections in the rear-view mirror, we face the reality of finding common ground to tackle tough issues at all levels of government, including local government.

As newly elected City Councils and School Boards take on the public’s business, the League of Women Voters believes we begin “at home” by putting aside our entrenched positions and holding open conversations about the many issues facing our communities.  Challenges such as affordable housing, downtown development, school enrollment and facilities, outdated civic infrastructure, traffic, a growing senior community, sustainability and more were hotly debated by candidates during the election season. The challenges aren’t getting any easier but how we approach them can.

Civil approaches to public discourse start from the point of view that every perspective merits consideration. Democracy requires compromise and the task is to find the intersecting points of agreement that benefit the community. This is the delicate art of governance and democracy.

So how do our divided communities find those elusive commonalities? It starts with some deceptively simple principles:

  • Respecting one another.
  • Taking the time to study the data and the facts.
  • Distinguishing between needs and wants.
  • Knowing the difference between “listening” and just “waiting for your turn to talk” and then actually listening.
  • Understanding we are all trying to find the common good.

We in Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View are fortunate to live in an amazing place, in a time of great change and great potential. Let us be a model and set the gold standard for coming together to get things done.

Los Altos Mountain View League of Women Voters
Katie Zoglin, President
Cathy R. Lazarus, Vice President
Dorothea Grimes-Farrow, Board Member