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McAdams, Herbert call for civility in politics during Utah Valley University discussion

By Connor Richards daily Herald - | Apr 9, 2021
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U.S. Rep. Ben McAdams talks with his wife, Julie, as he meets with members of his campaign staff during an Election Night gathering held at Pat’s Barbecue in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

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Utah Gov. Gary Herbert gave the keynote address at the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce's "Friday Forum" event at the Zions Bank building in Provo on Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. 

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U.S. Rep. Ben McAdams takes part in an interview while he’s joined by his family during an Election Night gathering held at Pat’s Barbecue in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

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Utah Gov. Gary Herbert gave the keynote address at the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce's "Friday Forum" event at the Zions Bank building in Provo on Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. 

Former Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and former U.S. Rep. Ben McAdams, D-Utah, both called for increased civility in politics and government on Friday during a virtual discussion hosted by Utah Valley University.

The discussion, which was part of the Center for the Study of Ethics’ Appomattox Project, a “multi-year effort designed to focus on the ethical dimensions of civic discourse, public policy, and democratic society,” explored “American political culture and the need to strengthen our fragile public square,” as stated by Karen Hale, co-chair of the Community Advisory Board overseeing the project.

Though they belong to different parties, Hale praised McAdams and Herbert, a Republican, as “two political leaders known for their commitment to bridge-building and to civic dialogue.”

UVU President Astrid Tuminez, who moderated Friday’s discussion, asked the duo for their reaction to “this evolution of hyper-partisanship” in American politics over the past decade.

“I do think it’s bad today,” said McAdams, who lost his bid for re-election in November 2020. “And in my service in Congress over the last two years, it was really bad.”

Herbert said that there are values “that we’re losing around the country, and we need to be concerned about that,” including “civility and mutual respect and a willingness to tolerate and understand different opinions.”

The former governor added that, in Utah, “we do a little better job at this than others, we’re not as uncivil as others, we don’t have quite the negativity that we see in other states.”

Herbert criticized national TV news outlets like Fox News and MSNBC, which he said “bring on bomb-throwers, people that in fact try to generate some anxiety amongst the faithful followers, and it becomes more of an us-and-them.”

As a result, viewers “become siloed in our view of the world and our attitudes and biases are reinforced by who we listen to and talk to,” the governor said.

McAdams, who is widely recognized as a moderate Democrat, spoke about his experience both in Congress and in the Utah State Senate, noting that “I always had to work with people from the other party if I wanted to get anything done.”

“You start working on these issues and you realize that those people who belong to a different party, they’re on the same team,” he said. “They’re serving in many cases because they love our state, they love our country, they want to make it a better place, and we’re serving for the same reasons. We may have different perspectives on the strategies for making our community better, but the commitment to our community in the same. And I think that’s maybe what’s been lost recently in our politics.”

McAdams was defeated in the November election by Republican Rep. Burgess Owens, who has used extreme rhetoric to describe Democrats and Democratic Party leadership.

To view the full conversation with Herbert and McAdams, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRdUeRf6_IA&ab_channel=UVUCenterfortheStudyofEthics.

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