This week, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., teamed up with fellow congressional freshman U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., to launch the Honor and Civility Caucus.
Crist’s office noted that the new group was formed to “uphold and promote the ideals of civility and statesmanship and to restore trust and confidence in America’s political institutions" and “will work to foster more productive dialogue in Congress and to advance specific initiatives to improve the tone of the nation’s politics and public discourse.” Invitations have been sent out to members of Congress to join the new group.
On Wednesday, Crist and Johnson weighed in on why they had formed the new caucus.
“As the nation’s leaders, members of Congress should aspire to the highest standards and set an example of personal integrity, decency and mutual respect for the generations of Americans that will follow,” Crist and Johnson said in a joint statement. “We can be stalwarts of our respective policy positions without tearing one another down. Although the members of this caucus will represent both political parties and a wide range of individual views across the political spectrum, our belief is that we can disagree in an agreeable manner and maintain collegiality and the honor of our office. Our aim is to help reverse the increasing divisions in and coarsening of our culture.”
Back in February, Johnson rounded up almost 50 freshmen, including Crist, to back the "Commitment to Civility" which, according to the Louisiana Republican’s office, “memorializes the members’ agreement to, among other things, restore collegiality, trust and civility to the Congress, encourage productive dialogue, and work to build consensus and the public's trust in America’s institutions.”
"I was pleased to draft this commitment document on behalf of my freshmen colleagues to articulate the sentiments that so many of us share,” Johnson said when he unveiled the “Commitment to Civility.” “It is encouraging to work with others from across the political spectrum who want to lead by example and work to restore civility to our public discourse. While we may have very different ideas and core philosophies, at the end of the day, we are all Americans. We do well to remember that.”
In June, Johnson and Crist followed up on that by teaming up with U.S. Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán, D-Calif., to launch a bill designating July 12th as a National Day of Civility. The two congressmen also passed out wristbands that read "Practice the GOLDEN RULE every day!"
"Matthew 7:12 reads 'in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.' It’s the Golden Rule,” Crist said in June. “In our civil discourse, we must strive to disagree without being disagreeable and practice the Golden Rule every day."
While he was first elected to Congress last year, Crist is a familiar figure in Florida politics. After serving in the Florida Senate, Crist, then a Republican, came up short in 1998 when he tried to topple then U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla. In 2000, Crist bounced back to be elected state education commissioner in 2000, attorney general in 2002 and governor in 2006. Instead of running for a second term as governor in 2010, Crist decided to run for the U.S. Senate but was caught in the primary by Marco Rubio. Crist left the GOP to continue his Senate bid with no party affiliation but was routed by Rubio in the general election. After throwing his support to then President Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election, Crist joined the Democrats at the end of that year. He ran against Gov. Rick Scott in 2014 but lost again. Last year, Crist defeated then U.S. Rep. David Jolly, R-Fla., to represent parts of Pinellas County in Congress.