A newly elected representative recently submitted a document for consideration by all members of Congress. I read it, and it’s wise. And I think it’s smart. I signed it, along with 130 other members of Congress from both sides of the political aisle. I invite you to read it. It’s called "A Commitment to Civility."

As members of the United Sates House of Representatives and as individual citizens we recognize the gravity of the responsibility we have been given and the significance of this moment in the history of our extraordinary country.

America remains the most free, most powerful and most prosperous nation in all the world, and yet we face significant challenges. Among these challenges has been an increasing division in and coarsening of our culture fueled too often by the vitriol in our politics and public discourse. One result has been a loss of trust in our institutions and elected officials.

We believe there is a better alternative.

Although we represent both political parties and a wide range of individual views across the political spectrum, our common and sincere aims are to serve the needs and interests of the American people, to work with one another to encourage greater confidence in our institutions, and to set an example of statesmanship for the younger generations of Americans that will follow.

To this end, we are dedicated to showing proper respect to one another and all others, encouraging productive dialogue, and modeling civility in our public and private actions. While we may vehemently disagree on matters of law and policy, we will strive at all times to maintain collegiality and the honor of our office.

We believe that a leader can be cooperative and conciliatory without compromising his or her core principles, and we recognize that our political rivals in Congress are not our enemies -- but rather our colleagues and fellow Americans. We also believe that maintaining a spirit of mutual understanding and cooperation will help make government work more efficiently and effectively, help build consensus and restore the public trust, and, ultimately, serve as a positive influence on society at large.

For all these reasons, we hereby pledge our names to this Commitment to Civility.

U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry can be reached at 202-225-4806.

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