Concern for U.S. democracy prompted a call for civility in political discourse from 13 presidential centers, foundations and institutes dating as far back as Herbert Hoover.
The organizations all support presidential libraries created under the Presidential Library Act of 1955 united to sign a bipartisan statement.
The group included Presidents Harry Truman, Gerald Ford, Lyndon Johnson, Herbert Hoover, Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, John Kennedy, Richard Nixon and Franklin Roosevelt.
- Missing from the effort was the Eisenhower Foundation, whose statement said they declined to sign on because there had been “no collective discussion about it, only an invitation to sign.”
David Kramer, executive director of the George W. Bush Institute, spearheaded the effort.
The letter does not specifically call out Trump, but issues a clear warning against an alarming level of divisive rhetoric when public officials and their families are receiving death threats. Also, Trump does not have a presidential library or institute yet.
- “I think there’s great concern about the state of our democracy at this time,” said Mark Updegrove, president and CEO of the LBJ Foundation, which supports the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, Texas. “We don’t have to go much farther than January 6 to realize that we are in a perilous state.”
- Melissa Giller, chief marketing officer at the Ronald Reagan Foundation and Institute, said the decision to sign on was a quick one. The foundation was approached shortly after it launched a new effort, its Center on Public Civility in Washington, D.C. She said the statement represents “everything our center will stand for.”
- Valerie Jarrett, now CEO of the Obama Foundation, weighed in. “This is a moment where we could all come together and show that democracy is not about partisan politics,” she said. “It’s about making our country strong, making our country more decent, more kind, more humane.”
Read the letter HERE.