Michael J. Kerrigan

Civility

I believe in the great intellectual tradition of the Judeo-Greco-Roman-Christian heritage.

I believe it is wiser to focus on the nobles rather than the knaves.

I have respect for the honest public servants faithfully doing their duty.

I believe in the imperative of civility in our discourse.

I believe principles and virtue can transcend partisan politics and personality.

I believe the virtue of citizenship is timeless as are the virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance.

I believe in being trustworthy to all and loyal to your friends.

I believe truth and virtue will triumph over lies and deceit.

I believe trust placed wisely trumps cynicism.

I believe aspiring public servants should know there are standards of decency practiced by those who serve selflessly in the service of our nation.

The Character Building Project applauds University of Arizona for setting up a Civility Institute. The University of Arizona — whose Tucson campus President Obama used for his nationwide address on civility after the shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords last month announced on Monday that it is establishing an institute to promote compromise among opposing political parties and views, the organization’s director said. CBP has several posts on the restoration of some sense of civility in our politics. Please see posts below. Continue reading

The Character Building Project (CBP)  applauds President Obama’s address at yesterday’s memorial service in Tucson, Arizona in calling for a new era of civility in American politics. CBP has called for civility on these pages many times in the past. However, in light of the Tucson tragedy, we wish to delve deeper in the next several posts as to how teaching civility might actually be accomplished. Continue reading

The tragedy in Tucson by an apparently deranged, 22-year-old man murdering a nine- year old girl, a prominent Judge, a staff member of Congresswoman Giffords and other victims coupled with the brazen attempt on the life of Congresswomen Gifford herself, is a sad indictment of our times and current culture. Continue reading

Politics with Principle: Ten Characters with Character demonstrates it is possible for public servants to achieve success in the political arena without lying, cheating, or stealing along the way. The careers of the ten show civility and good character are not impediments to success, but critical elements of professional and personal success. Continue reading

Recently, I shared advice to new Members of the 112th Congress based on the guiding principles and the lessons learned in writing Politics with Principle: Ten Characters with Character. Former Senator Lott’s comments about co-opting the new Tea Party members prompts me to offer my own roadmap for legislators about to assimilate into Hill politics. During the Congressional midterm elections, the Tea Party candidates had much to say about the misgovernment of excessive spending, the corruption of modern day legislators and lobbyists, and the intrigue of special interest infecting our politics. Continue reading

In the aftermath of the November election, it’s quite easy for Republicans to bask in victory’s sweet sun.  Alas, be not content, for thy fortunes are illusory. Our newly elected are on a tight probationary leash.

Americans are not nearly as gullible as the pollsters think. We did not vote for the Republican agenda, we voted to register a powerful sign of protest against the conduct and egregious lack of character of our politicians.  As a nation, we are revolted by the abuses they have heaped upon us. As Charles Krauthammer said so well: Continue reading

Paul Krugman’s “Default is in our Stars”(September 25 NY Times) is another reason economics is called the dismal science and that philosophy is called the queen of sciences. Call me naive but common sense calls for the virtue of civility in our contemporary lives. Civility is the disciplining of our passions for the sake of living a common life with our fellow citizens. Whereas leading lives only according to our own selfish desires is at the heart of incivility. This is the same “conscience of liberal thinking” that brought us Cabrini Green type public housing and welfare which encourage the break up of the African American family. How about we give “virtue” a try?

Over the last six posts, with the help of Professor Stephen L. Carter, we have pointed out what civility is and is not. Civility is the disciplining of our passions for the sake of living a common life with our fellow citizens. Whereas leading lives only according to our own selfish desires is at the heart of incivility. Continue reading

Yesterday, David Ignatius of the Washington Post, had an excellent column: An Old School Trick: Put Country First. In the article, Lee Hamilton remembers that when he came to Washington 45 years ago as a freshman Democrat from Indiana, he made a dumb parliamentary error that would have scuttled the bill he was advocating. The House Republican leader at the time, Gerald Ford, sent over one of his colleagues to help Hamilton fix the mistake. Continue reading

When telling people I was writing Politics with Principle: Ten Character with Character, I was generally greeted with a good laugh followed by a statement that “politicians are corrupt and lacking good character.” Although the ten characters in my book indicate otherwise, my inquiry also demonstrates we get the politicians we deserve. For better and, sometimes for the worse, politics in the United States tends to reflect the public mood and morals. Continue reading

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