SILVER SPRING, Md. — Addressing fears partisanship is undermining people’s trust in democracy, Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin, D-Md., launched a campaign this week that aims to build a cross-party coalition to defend America’s democratic institutions.

Three current and former Republican congresspeople joined Democrat Raskin in an online event that stressed the need for political parties to join to fight what they see as President Donald Trump’s divisive rhetoric amid a pandemic and racial- and social-justice protests.

Raskin said Trump has personally attacked mail-in ballots, freedom of the press, and the integrity of the military.

He said the November election is one that will decide whether we’re upholding these cornerstones of democracy for the future.

“What an election,” Raskin said. “What a time we’re in. You know everything is on the ballot right now. Civility is on the ballot. Decency is on the ballot. Respect for other people, respect even for the people who wear the uniform of the United States of America and service abroad is on the ballot.”

He urged Congress and voters to rise above partisanship and cited Abraham Lincoln’s idea that passion must not break the bonds of affection that hold Americans together.

Raskin also noted the alternative to multiple-party cooperation is a one-party state such as Russia, where one leader dictates.

Mickey Edwards, a former Oklahoma Republican Congressman, warned the GOP today is veering in that direction.

“There was a time when the Republican Party actually believed in government, believed in having limits on it, believed in watching out for people, in being inclusive,” Edwards said. “And now what we have in the Republican Party is more of a cult. I don’t know if we can get back to that.”

In a new Pew Charitable Trusts report, slightly more than half of the adults say it is very important the tone of political debate is respectful, down from 61% two years ago.

It also reveals a large majority of Americans agree on the importance of a number of democratic principles. But in the past two years, a gap has grown wider between that group and Americans who say the U.S. is doing well in living up to those principles.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Diane Bernard is a digital and radio journalist based in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area with more than 10 years of journalism experience. Her print and online credits include work for The Washington...

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