We introduced ourselves to Washington County in a letter to the Herald Mail on October 14. You can read it here. Or you can read the unedited version:
One day not long after the most recent presidential inauguration, two friends bumped into each other at the grocery store. Over the apples, they talked of their shared despair at the state of political discourse in our country, and of their shared desire to do something – anything, really – to raise the level of that discourse. Raising it at the national level seemed an impossible task, but perhaps something could be done to raise it here at home, in Washington County. There was a time in the not-too-distant past that they both remembered fondly, when people of all political stripes would work together to make our county a pleasant place for everyone who lives here. They looked at the current state of county and municipal governments and no longer saw that cooperation across differences, and they wondered if they could bring it back.
They went home and called a few friends who they knew shared these concerns. These friends were themselves from all over the political spectrum, but they shared a desire to see rationality and civility return to politics. The friends were interested.
So one night in March, they all got together for a glass of wine and a chat. There were over a dozen of them. They talked about how best to achieve this goal of rationality and civility in politics, and they agreed that something more than wine and chatting (pleasant though that is) was called for. Something organized. An organization.
Over the next six months, they met monthly, rotating among the homes of the members. New people joined the group, friends and neighbors who had heard about the work the new organization was planning and wanted to be part of it. By August, the group numbered about 50, and it had a name: Citizens Above Partisanship. In early September, it became a registered political action committee with the State of Maryland.
Citizens Above Partisanship (CAP) is a diverse, nonpartisan, grassroots coalition of Washington County residents who are committed to working across political differences to do the difficult, messy work necessary to support a healthy democracy that serves the needs of all its members.
We value civility, collaboration, and compromise.
We prioritize ethics, education, and the economy.
We believe in facts and the unbiased interpretation of facts.
We believe that rational people can disagree rationally, and that such disagreement is a necessary part of a participatory democracy.
We believe that people are individuals and should be treated as such.
We insist on real conversation about real issues and reject antagonism and posturing from all perspectives.
We strive to listen to what people are actually saying, rather than hearing what we expect them to say.
We work together to identify obstacles to political cooperation in Washington County and remove them.
We provide opportunities for rational people from all viewpoints to work together in pursuit of policies and practices in line with our values and beliefs.
We support qualified candidates for local office who support those values and beliefs, both in their campaigns and in their work once elected.
And we act as a watchdog to call out threats to and breaches of those values and beliefs.
Democracy takes work. Will you join us?