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NICD’s Respect or Reject Campaign

By Stephanie R. South, TDC National Coordinator

The National Institute for Civil Discourse is trying to put civility back into political campaigns, and to that end, they are debuting a new project—the Respect or Reject Campaign. The American Democracy project is teaming up with The Democracy Commitment to spread the word, because we believe this initiative has some real potential to help faculty members engage and empower their students during #e2014.


Courtesy of Respect of Reject

The last presidential campaign season was one of the least civil campaigns we’ve ever experienced. This year’s midterm election campaign will undoubtedly bring the current polarized state of our democracy front and center, blaring negative campaign ads on our radios and TVs, and taking social media by storm with retweets and social shares that don’t keep pace with modern-day fact checking capacities.

We as citizens have become accustomed to seeing politicians launch campaign advertisements filled with vitriolic dialogue, sensational imagery and less than respectful depictions of the opposing candidate. Holding them accountable for their actions is a key priority in encouraging candidates to run on a platform that focuses on the issues at hand and not on demonizing the other candidate.  This can only be accomplished if the public takes a stand and renounces the behavior.  We can help to fill this role by providing an avenue that helps people find their voice.

The National Institute for Civil Discourse will seek to frame the conversation around civility and give the public a place to take a stand against the behavior, rather than sensationalizing it. In this campaign, we’re not giving politicians a voice by retweeting them; we’re giving people a place to publically state that the behavior is unacceptable and undesired.

The campaign is now live and its first round of ads is up. New rounds of ads for House and Senate campaigns will go up each Friday through Election Day. Following Election Day, Respect or Reject will release the five most outrageous ads and the five most civil ads, according to our votes. To learn more, read the Respect or Reject one-pager here.

Visit to join the conversation about campaign ads. Let’s take responsibility for the direction of our democracy.


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