Our View: Grassroots Utah group creating more civil talk, more civil action

Wednesday , September 13, 2017 - 6:00 AM

Photo supplied/Francesco Castelli

Melissa Dalton-Bradford, one of the co-founders of Mormon Women for Ethical Government, has lived most of her adult life outside the U.S. but is deeply concerned about the nation's current direction under President Donald Trump.

STANDARD-EXAMINER EDITORIAL BOARD

Since the Democratic and Republican conventions last summer, lots of people have been demanding — and thirsting for — respectful discourse.

But few have gone out of their way to find it or better yet, create it.

Back in January, just after the inauguration of President Donald Trump, a few women decided to act on that thirst and created a closed Facebook group — Mormon Women for Ethical Government. The idea was simple: create a safe space to stay informed and have respectful discussion and debate about local, state and national political affairs.

The group grew to more than 4,000 women in the matter of a few weeks. “It snowballed and touched a nerve out there,” MWEG founder Sharlee Mullins Glenn told Standard-Examiner reporter Cathy McKitrick.

The rules are simple: Topics should revolve around issues carrying human impact. Disagreements are welcome, so long as points are backed with credible sources and dissent comes with respect. Name-calling and disrespect are not tolerated. It’s also important to note that despite the name of the group, women of all faiths (or none at all) are still welcome to the invitation-only group — though men are not allowed.

And perhaps most important of all: Listening is a function of understanding, not a means to win an argument.

At first blush, the group might sound like just another Facebook group, yet another channel for all talk and no action.

But that’s not true. These women are mobilizing. They’re building a network. They’re fundraising and choosing issues to take on. Some, according to the Standard’s reporting, are considering seeking office.

“Many Mormon women are busy doing good things and don’t get involved in politics. But a lot of us are like, ‘Wait a second, things are happening that we’re not OK with,’” member Calene Van Noy said. “We will not be complicit by being complacent.”

Think of what a united, non-partisan cohort of thousands could do if they wanted to change things, especially in areas with otherwise low voter turnout. For some, that thought will send a shiver of excitement through the body. For others — particularly those who’ve relied on exclusion and financial privilege to gain or keep their seats — they might be hoping this group loses steam.

We hope it doesn’t; we don’t think it will. And it would be nice if more groups, including our two main political parties, would follow their lead.