Bob Vander Platts, President and CEO of the Family Leader, invited seven Democratic presidential hopefuls to his organization’s annual Family Leadership Summit “to discuss a vision of unity for America and how their personal faith guides their leadership, their policy, and their governance.” Located in Iowa, the Family Leader is a Christian organization allied with New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms. Vander Platts promised the candidates “a safe environment and a civil conversation.”
Given the prominence of the Iowa caucuses in the presidential election cycle, one might assume that presidential candidates would be eager to attend the Summit. Apparently, that assumption would be mistaken; the candidates have declined the invitation. Vander Platts responded by penning a column in the Des Moines Register encouraging the candidates to reconsider. Vander Platts wrote:
It’s no secret that we live in divisive and polarizing times. My fear is we are embracing hatred versus understanding when we encounter disagreement. We are witnessing and growing numb to the senseless acts of violence in synagogues, churches, and nightclubs. There has to be a better way.
One way is to model what civility looks like. Thus, I encourage the leading Democrat hopefuls to accept my sincere offer for an honest, transparent, and civil conversation in a safe environment. While we may not leave agreeing and supporting one another, we’ll leave better and we’ll model a better way.