11/06/2012 02:41 pm ET Updated Jan 06, 2013

A Vote for Civility and Common Purpose

This year, in the contentious battleground of Ohio, presidential candidates have fought a turf war for the love and support of Ohioans. At The Ohio State University, our campus has been at the center of attention. Representative Paul Ryan spent a football Saturday tailgating near Ohio Stadium. President Barack Obama enjoyed a Reuben sandwich and casual conversation in our student union. To be certain, with regard to this presidential election, our students had front row seats.

While the spotlight on Ohio has created an ideal learning laboratory for our students, the tenor of the national dialog has at times been so rancorous that I fear the wrong lesson is being taught. In my adult life, I have witnessed the dramatic narratives of numerous election seasons. We all know that campaigns can be vitriolic. But none, it seems, have been as polarizing or highly charged as this. Over the past year, I have often asked myself: What has happened to the art of civility and the value of compromise?

In order to address the sobering problems facing this nation, our leaders must be willing to take a seat at the same table, find common ground, and build mutually beneficial solutions. In Washington, D.C., a refusal to compromise is threatening the country with the effects of budget sequestration, which could inhibit all sectors of the economy, including critical breakthroughs in scientific research and progress.

As the dust settles, my hope is that the outcome of this election will be more than a Pyrrhic victory in a long, costly war of attrition. The 21st century demands leaders who will foster a common conversation with both compassion and dispassion. Leaders who, despite glaring differences of opinion, have respect for the views of their peers. At this moment, there are significant challenges yet to overcome. And I believe that our success lies not in rigid ideology and trite assumptions, but in civility and common purpose.