16:00 PM

Central Ohio representatives discuss compromise, civility at Ohio State

Congressional Conversations is an initiative of Moritz College of Law and John Glenn College of Public Affairs

Disagree without being disagreeable. That was one of the central messages of Congressional Conversations, a question-and-answer session with U.S. Reps. Joyce Beatty, a Democrat, and Mike Carey, a Republican, at The Ohio State University this week.

Congressional Conversations is an initiative of Moritz College of Law and the John Glenn College of Public Affairs that brings prominent federal legislators to Ohio State on a regular basis. The event is co-sponsored by the Moritz Program on Law and Leadership, the Office of Government Affairs and the Institute for Democratic Engagement and Accountability (IDEA). 

Conversations focus not on the day’s partisan talking points but rather on improving the legislative process, public policy and leadership. Trevor Brown, dean of the Glenn College, and law student Aditya Medicherla moderated the discussion.

“One of the important roles of a public university and the Congressional Conversation series is to create an environment where we can have conversations about difficult and contentious issues in a civil and respectful manner that contributes to our understanding and welcomes and fosters a diversity of viewpoints,” Brown said.

Last year, Carey and Beatty relaunched the Congressional Civility and Respect Caucus. Originally established by Beatty and former U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers, the goal of the bipartisan caucus is to encourage all members of Congress to act with civility and respect in their political discourse.

Beatty and Carey have preached the message to businesses and civic organizations across central Ohio to help promote respectful dialogue on challenging issues. 

“It was to hopefully demonstrate that we don’t have to agree, but we don’t have to not be civil. We don’t have to say things about people’s families or disparaging things about individuals that are really not true,” Beatty said.

Carey said it has been a privilege to share the message with fellow representatives in central Ohio and around the country. He said he would be participating in a civility event in suburban Chicago later this year with Democratic Rep. Brad Schneider.

“It really all started because of what Joyce and Steve decided to do. This is our 18th event. I actually went to a Republican fundraiser, and I said … I feel very strange being in a room with all of you people in central Ohio and Joyce Beatty’s not on stage with me. That’s how many times you’ll find us working together,” he said.

Beatty and Carey both expressed hope that Congress will be able to find a solution to looming funding deadlines in early March. They also expressed frustration with the challenges of changing leadership in the House and razor-thin voting margins.

Audience members asked the representatives their views on student protests, and both said they agreed with the right to protest when the issues were important.

The final question for the representatives was about the advice they would offer to students who want to advocate for themselves or others. Both representatives noted there are opportunities to serve outside of elected office. Beatty said some of the most important laws begin at the smallest level.

“For those in Glenn College, I think you should help us with public policy. And I recommend that if you have thoughts on public policy issues, most pieces of legislation come from the district, an idea, a family or a name, like the Amber Alert,” Beatty said. “If you think about all the [laws] that get named, it’s because some nurse, some students, some public policy person weighed in.”

Carey encouraged students to “get in the arena.”

“Whether you run for office yourself, whether you go into a congressional office or state representative office, city council, county commissioner, I just think it really gives you the opportunity to be part of what we need in this country, which is change.”

Share this