OREM Rep. Chris Cannon says people with diverse political viewpoints need to find common ground, agree on similar values and then strive for change together.
Addressing a group of about 150 people at Utah Valley State College on Friday, Cannon, R-Utah, spoke on "Civility, Elections and Democracy."
He said at times, people are blinded by their partisanship and can become extremely distanced on opposite ends of the political spectrum. The distance is so great, some refer to it as "using binoculars to see each other," Cannon said.
But seeing others' views clearly can help, he said.
"You want to be thoughtful about your positions, you want to be thoughtful about the positions other people have ... and that allows for civility," Cannon said.
But it's amazing how harsh election campaigns can be, he added.
"Has anybody here not heard a debate where something was said that was startlingly offensive?" he asked.
Students attending the event took the opportunity to ask Cannon myriad questions, including a discussion on judging political candidates by their charisma and emotion. For example, when Hillary Clinton cried on camera, her ratings went up.
"But those aren't the issues we need to be voting on," said Adam Frederickson, 22, of Orem, a UVSC freshman majoring in math.
After his presentation, in an interview with the Desert Morning News, Cannon spoke out about this week's announcement of former Alpine School District superintendent Steven Baugh running for a legislative seat on the Democrat ticket for Utah House District 58.
Cannon called Baugh a "very smart and very capable guy," but added he was surprised Baugh would "jump in in a way that was so clearly partisan."
He explained he felt Baugh was highlighting his running as a Democrat rather than why he would be the best person for the position.
Cannon's speech is one of a string of annual presentations by political representatives, according to Elaine Englehardt, distinguished professor of ethics and special assistant to the president at UVSC.
"And Chris has been very supportive of UVSC. He helped us with the name change and with some appropriation," Englehardt said. The college is transitioning to university status.Cannon was elected to Congress in 1996. His committee assignments include the Judiciary, Oversight and Government Reform, and Natural Resources.