TRANSFORMATIONAL DIALOG: THE AMERICAN CIVILITY INITIATIVE


“The Practice of Presidents”
Former U.S. Senator Al Simpson


"Political Personalismo"
U.N. Foundation President Tim Wirth

1. THE CONCEPT. Everyone talks about how toxic the atmosphere in Washington is. Now is the time to do something about it. The premise of The American Civility Initiative is the stage needs to be set for problem-solving before any will occur. Hence, the missing link is the lack of a foundation of familiarity and trust which creates the conditions for consensus to occur. Without the establishment of this foundation, the failures of the current era will continue.

The Civility Initiative seeks to begin to meet that need by hosting a series of small group dinners (e.g., +/-10 guests). These sessions will serve to (a) help establish relationships so critical issues can be discussed in a civil manner, (b) create conditions which allow elected officials to trust each other, (c) help officials make difficult decisions by encouraging all citizens to see each other in more humane terms by getting them to talk with and listen to each other, and (d) demonstrate to opinion leaders, political activists, and voters that people can disagree agreeably.

Hard data definitively prove the Congress and the nation as a whole are more polarized than ever in multiple respects with some studies going back over one and a half centuries to come to this conclusion.
There is widespread, bipartisan agreement that politics in Washington, DC and across the nation have become venomous for a number of reasons including…

The scorched-earth, win-at-all-costs, destroy-your-opponent approach used to wage many campaigns
The permanent 365-day-a-year, 24/7, demagogic fundraising cycle
A Congressional redistricting process which rewards extremism and punishes moderation
The extraordinary influence and demands of a wide variety of special interests upon which
     candidates rely more heavily than ever
The expanded role in politics of anonymous third party organizations which have little or no accountability
The 24/7 news cycle which creates a constant negative media feedback loop which emphasizes and exacerbates conflict and avoids solutions so there always is a “story” the next day.
The deficiency of civics education and knowledge on the part of both the electorate and even public officials
The lack of leadership at all levels due to the fear of political repercussions and the desire by
     elected officials to stay in office as well as progress to other offices and private sector positions, and
The lack of personal and even professional relationships between elected officials compared to prior times.

The Civility Initiative will provide a path for elected and appointed officials to discuss some of the nation and world’s most challenging issues and find common ground to resolve many of them while setting an example for all Americans regarding how to conduct themselves respectfully. It is possible that, with just a 24- to 36-month effort, a key part of the Washington culture could be changed for the better (as verified by directly surveying participants). This is the gist of this transformational effort.


The American "Team"
Former Congressman Dan Glickman


"Building Personal Relationships"
Tony Earley, Chairman, CEO & President, PG&E

2. STRATEGY DEVELOPMENT PARTICIPANTS, AND BIPARTISAN ENGAGEMENT. USA-TN already has consulted with a number of people involved or familiar with similar endeavors. “The Aaron Harber Show” will use its existing relationships to secure participation from Cabinet Secretaries, other major Administration officials, U.S. Senators, U.S. Representatives, Governors, major business leaders, key political activists, members of the Media, and other national opinion leaders --- many of whom already have been guests on television programs hosted by Aaron. USA Talk Network is in the process of organizing an Advisory Panel. Participants already assisting in the endeavor include the following (an asterisk means the person is considered only tentatively on the panel until confirmation is received):

➢ Madeleine Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State (D)
➢ Wayne Allard, former U.S. Senator (R)
➢ General John Allen, former Commander, U.S. Forces in Afghanistan & NATO International Security Assistance Force & Central Command
➢ Bill Armstrong, former Republican U.S. Senator and current President of Colorado Christian University (R)
➢ Bill Bradley, former U.S. Senator (D)
➢ Hank Brown, former U.S. Senator (R)
➢ Lester Brown, President, Earth Policy Institute; and Founder, the World Watch Institute
➢ Ben Nighthorse Campbell, former U.S. Senator (R)
➢ Mike Coffman Congressman anf former Colorado Treasurer and Secretary of State (R)
➢ Alex Cranberg, Chairman, Aspect Holdings, and Regent, University of Texas
➢ P.J. Crowley, former Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs & State Department Chief Spokesperson
➢ Ted Cruz, U.S. Senator (R-TX)
➢ Diana DeGette, Congresswoman and House Chief Deputy Whip (D)
➢ Dr. Sylvia Earle, Chair, Mission Blue; Explorer-In-Residence, National Geographic; former Chief Scientist, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Dept. of Commerce; and “Hero of the Planet”
➢ Mickey Edwards, former Congressman and current Aspen Institute Vice President (R)
➢ Steve Forbes, “FORBES” Magazine Publisher and former presidential candidate
➢ John Fortier, Director, The Democracy Project, Bipartisan Policy Center
➢ Bill Frist, former U.S. Senate Majority Leader (R)
➢ Cory Gardner, Congressman (R)
➢ Dan Glickman, former Congressman, former Motion Picture Association of America CEO, and former Agriculture Secretary (D)
➢ Jane Harman, President & CEO, The Woodrow Wilson International Center, former Congresswoman and member House Armed Services Committee (D)
➢ Gary Hart, former U.S. Senator
➢ Ambassador Christopher Hill, former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Kosovo, Macedonia, Poland, and South Korea; former Assistant Secretary of State
➢ Tom Hoog, Global Vice-Chairman, Hill & Knowlton, former U.S. President, Hill & Knowlton
➢ Asa Hutchinson, former Congressman, former Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Agency, former Undersecretary of Homeland Security, and current gubernatorial candidate (R)
➢ The Reverend Jesse Jackson, Founder & President, Rainbow PUSH Coalition
➢ Tom Kiernan, CEO, American Wind Energy Association
➢ Raymond Kogovsek, former Congressman (D)
➢ Ray LaHood, former U.S. Secretary of Transportation & former Congressman (R)
➢ Doug Lamborn, Congressman (R)
➢ James Leach, former Congressman and current National Endowment for the Humanities Chairman (R)
➢ Joseph Lieberman, Chair, Bipartisan Coalition for American Security; former U.S. Senator and Chair, Senate Committee on Homeland Security (I)
➢ Gregory Maffei, Chief Executive Officer & President, Liberty Media Corporation
➢ Taj Mahal, International Musician, Composer, Performer, Grammy multi-winner, creator of “World Music”
➢ Ambassador John Negroponte, former U.S. Ambassador to Honduras, Iraq, Mexico, the Philippines, and the United Nations
➢ Marvin Odum, President, SHELL Oil Company President
➢ Ed Perlmutter, Congressman (D)
➢ T. Boone Pickens, Chair, BP Capital Management; Author, “The Pickens Plan
➢ Jared Polis, Congressman (D)
➢ Phil Radford, Executive Director, Greenpeace USA
➢ Bill Richardson, former Governor, former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., and former Secretary of Energy (D)
➢ Bill Ritter, former Democratic Governor & current Executive Director of the Center for the New Energy Economy
➢ Jim Rogers, “Street Smarts” Author and Rogers Holdings Chairman
➢ Roy Romer, former Governor and Democratic National Committee Chairman (D)
➢ Ken Salazar, former U.S. Secretary of the Interior and U.S. Senator (D)
➢ Paul Sarbanes, former U.S. Senator (D)
➢ Larry Schweiger, President & CEO, National Wildlife Federation
➢ Adam Sieminski, Administrator, U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration
➢ Alan Simpson, former U.S. Senate Majority Leader & Simpson-Bowles Commission Co-Chair (R)
➢ David Skaggs, former Congressman and House Bipartisan Retreat organizer (D)
➢ Eric Spiegel, CEO, Siemens USA
➢ Tom Tancredo, gubernatorial candidate, former Congressman and former Presidential Candidate (R)
➢ Scott Tipton, Congressman (R)
➢ Bryan Welch, Publisher, “Mother Earth News” and “The Utne Reader
➢ Jon Wellinghoff, Chairman, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
➢ Timothy E. Wirth, former U.S. Senator and current U.N. Foundation President (D)
➢ Wyland, International Marine Life Artist

 
"We used to be able to work together..."
Former Congressman Mickey Edwards


"Invite them to the White House"

Television Host Aaron Harber

3. DIFFERENCES. The need for civility, mutually-respectful debate, bipartisanship, and compromise are well-known in Washington and across the country. Even though this is widely recognized, there is general agreement conditions for achieving these goals have deteriorated and, in fact, the nation as a whole has regressed. As a result, there now are several initiatives seeking to ameliorate the situation.

Based on discussions with leaders across the country, The American Civility Initiative is the only effort which incorporates a television broadcast component and which also seeks to inform a wide range of citizens of the state of affairs while showing them viable alternatives to the kind of belligerent, blistering, and highly personalized debate which is the hallmark of political and media realms today. Hence, The American Civility Initiative not only will impact the elected officials involved but also is meant to have a positive effect on the electorate.

The Aaron Harber Show™” (please go to the end of this page or to www.bit.ly/ShowDemo for a short demonstration video) already has an established record getting the nation’s top tier guests to discuss issues in a civil manner (www.HarberTV.com). Bringing together the American people is the key to the long-term success of making any progress in this arena because it will be the electorate which ultimately gives officials the courage to lead. Aaron has the experience and skills to successfully moderate these events (www.bit.ly/BioAaron).

4. ULTIMATE GOALS. The Civility Initiative will seek to (1) create a standard for civil and mutually-respectful debate, (2) help establish what facts are not in dispute, (3) examine areas of agreement and disagreement, (4) explore possible solutions, (5) try to forge consensuses, (6) define areas of final (unresolved) disagreement so participants can demonstrate their ability to disagree in a courteous manner, and demonstrate to officials and citizens that there is a different path than the course taken in recent years.

The first phase of endeavor is to bring key players together in an informal setting by dining and casually discussing select issues. The dynamics of “breaking bread” are well known for creating an environment conducive to mutually respectful conversation. The purpose of these sessions is not only to discuss major issues but also to give leaders a chance to get to know each other as individuals and to show the American people their leaders can be civil to each other despite stark differences in beliefs and opinions. An additional benefit over time, once participants get to know each other better, is it will become more difficult for those who are highly partisan or extreme to attack someone they have befriended.

 
The Team that pays your salary...
Former Congressman Dan Glickman


"It's all about what you look like on TV"
John Hayes, President & CEO, BALL Corporation

5. SPECIFIC PROVEN ABILITY. USA-TN demonstrated its ability to successfully do this kind of programming by just completing the taping of 14 half-hour nonpartisan programs in Washington, DC at the George Washington University with former U.S. Senator Al Simpson, former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles, former Federal Reserve Bank Vice Chair and former Director of both the Congressional Budget Office and the Office of Management and Budget Alice Rivlin, United Nations Foundation President and former U.S. Senator Tim Wirth, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Marty Regalia, Economics Professor and former Labor Department official as well as current AFL-CIO Chief Economist Bill Spriggs, and Economics Professor and former Chief Economist for the International Trade Organization Peter Morici. The programs are available at www.bit.ly/FiscalDebate.

This endeavor produced amazing results from people with diametrically opposing views. USA-TN will leverage this experience for the benefit of The American Civility Initiative. Similar bipartisan programming can be seen at www.bit.ly/LeadersCO (featuring Republican Senator Bill Armstrong and Democratic Governors Dick Lamm and Bill Ritter), www.bit.ly/CongressCO and www.bit.ly/SenateCO.


Old School Traditions
Gregory Anton, Past Chairman, American Institute of CPAs


"Campaign Finance: The Root of All Evil"
Former U.S. Senator Tim Wirth 

6. THE PLAN. USA-TN will host gatherings at which the guests will be served a meal and will have been given advance notice of one or two topics for discussion which were selected from topics suggested by the guests themselves.

One topic will be related to current events and the other will be a major issue which is more evergreen in nature. Examples are “Government’s Role in Job Creation” “Health Care Reform,” “The Department of Defense in the Modern Era,” “Civics Education and the Responsibility of Citizenship,” “Safety In America,” “Climate Change,” “America’s Transportation Infrastructure,” “Tax Reform,” “American Diplomacy,” “A National Energy Strategy” “Saving Social Security & Medicare,” “New Paths for American Diplomacy,” “Transforming American Politics,” “Immigration Reform,” “Education in America.” Guests will be solicited in advance for topics which interest them the most.

To accommodate the schedules of officials, participants will be given a range of dates from which they can select. This will maximize participation. In addition, each event typically will feature a prominent guest from “The Aaron Harber Show” as a co-host (go to www.HarberTV.com to see examples of potential co-hosts).

The event will be closed to the public and the Press but will be taped in an unobtrusive manner (e.g., with a special set which conceals most or all of the cameras) for possible broadcast. Not every event is expected to be broadcast or to be part of a broadcast.


"We've got real issues in America right now..."
John Hayes, President & CEO, BALL Corporation



Negative Campaign Ads "Poison The Water"
Former candidate for President and current candidate
for Governor, Tom Tancredo

7. THE BROADCAST AND DISTRIBUTION PLAN. A one-hour program for broadcast will be created from each two-hour session. USA Talk Network has signed an agreement which allows the USA-TN programming to be provided to national broadcast entities such as COMCAST, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Cox Cable, Charter Cable, DirecTV, DISH Network, Verizon, AT&T, and many others. The programs also will be offered to online services such as Amazon, Netflix, and other online entities as well all PBS networks and stations in the U.S. Actual distribution of the programs will be a function of the initiative’s funding and the content licensing contracts negotiated with each broadcast entity.

In addition, the content will provided to America’s major news outlets via USA-TN’s Publishers Advantage program and will be put online at www.HarberTV.com as well as on a separate YouTube Channel. This means there will be broad national access to the shows. The goal will be to make certain up to 250 million Americans will be able to watch the programs at their convenience and at no charge.

There may be interest in offering the programs as a weekly national series. It could be the country’s first television programming focused on Washington and the nation’s elected officials. Although no title has been selected (such as “America Dines With Congress” or “Dinner In DC”), this possibility will be explored. USA-TN will focus on doing whatever is necessary to maximize the program’s availability, at no cost, to the American people. USA-TN’s goal is to make all of the programs available to at least 250 million citizens.


"How the venom started..."
Former U.S. Senator Al Simpson


Career Politicians - Are We To Blame?
John Hayes, President & CEO, BALL Corporation


Checks and Balances
U.S. Representative Cory Gardner,
former Colorado Lt. Governor Barbara O'Brien,
and former Congressman Tom Tancredo


"The Void of Leadership"
John Hayes, President & CEO, BALL Corporation


Business Community Leadership
John Hayes, President & CEO, BALL Corporation

 

 

© Copyright 2014 by USA Talk Network, Inc. & Aaron Harber. All rights reserved. Please contact Jana Martin (Jana@HarberTV.com) for more information. 08-20-13

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