Reps. Cleaver, Yoder Encourage Civil Political Discourse

Jun 4, 2014

Kansas Republican Congressman Kevin Yoder, left, teases Missouri Democratic Congressman Emanuel Cleaver about almost missing a flight home. The two were promoting a new group that encourages people from different political parties to meet.
Credit Elle Moxley / KCUR

Kansas Republican Congressman Kevin Yoder and Missouri Democratic Congressman Emanuel Cleaver were in Kansas City, Mo., Wednesday to promote a new political discussion group.

The group – called the Village Square – encourages people to meet across party lines to talk about political topics with civility and respect.

"We spend a lot of time in politics questioning motives," says Yoder. "It's very disappointing to me. Media does this, and we do it to each other. We say, 'Well, you only vote that way because the labor unions told you to.' Or they might say, 'You only vote that way because Koch Industries tells you to do that.'"

Yoder, of Overland Park, Kan., says the current political climate boils down to a lack of respect for people's beliefs. But he says working across the aisle is possible and pointed to his friendship with Cleaver, of Kansas City, Mo.

Cleaver says though he's confident he and Yoder could find common ground and strike bargains, it's unlikely their parties would agree. That, he says, is because compromise is less likely than it once was.

"The reason we're not getting it now is because people don't trust each to do that kind of deal," he says.

The Village Square plans to host events for Kansas Citians from both parties to discuss politics starting this fall.