Common Grounder Blog

Common Ground Committee is dedicated to bringing light to public discourse without the heat and rancor pervasive in the current political scene. And this without asking you to sacrifice your principles for the mere sake of agreement.

  Bi-partisan admiration expressed for Senator Hatch suggests there is “light” in the Senate.  Read the article HERE.            

To make progress when an issue is emotionally charged it is crucial to find “low-hanging fruit” – solutions that are palatable to both sides and are likely to have a positive impact. This piece from the New York Times does just … Read more 

Progress on important and divisive issues requires many things. But first and foremost is the belief that progress is possible. Without that, there is no reason to engage, no reason to listen, no reason to do the hard work required to move forward. Read more 

Here’s a great piece by two political opponents, Bill Kristol and William Galston that finds common ground on fundamental principles. Yes, there is an implied message here that many people may not appreciate. But the fact that two people who … Read more 

Is there any hope the deep wounds in our public discourse can be healed?

Common Ground Committee is about doing just that. A skeptic might say that this organization, while well-meaning, is just a “voice crying in the wilderness”. We would, respectfully, disagree. We believe that the level and intensity of polarization is so bad that the pendulum of public discourse is now starting to swing back toward civility and respect. Citizens like us and even some political leaders are deciding “enough already”. Read more 

The Algorithms of Fear recently published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review brings new and needed insight to the insidious tendency in today’s political landscape to maintain the division between people who hold different views and have different paradigms. As we learned when Facebook was accused of a politically left bias in its “trending” news section, the media world heavily relies on algorithms to address its audiences. Algorithms are pieces of computer software that follow sets of rules to make calculations or solve problems. They are very good at “automatically” delivering content and information that people’s past online activity suggests they want. Read more 

A potential example of finding common ground could be on the horizon. Donald Trump surprised the republican elite by becoming the presumptive presidential candidate despite changeable positions, many which are not aligned with conservative principals.  Trump argues the party is the Republican party, not the conservative party.  Meanwhile, Paul Ryan says he is not there when it comes to endorsing Trump.  This has all the makings of a knock-down confrontation. Read more 

The Lugar Center, founded by former Senator Richard Lugar (R-Indiana) is a “platform for informed debate on global issues.” The Center recently published its Bipartisan Index which ranks each member of Congress on his or her ability to work with … Read more 

We normally do not like to bring attention to situations where people get caught up in “negative politics” and consequently fail to achieve common ground.  There are too many instances of this sort of thing going on every day.  But … Read more 

In a unique video presentation, Robert Reich, a former Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton and Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, sees the emergence of a new debate where the populist left … Read more 

Just how at risk are you and I of being victims of terrorism?  Is ISIS truly gaining strength?  For the answer, check out “Redirect”, a new initiative launched by our media partner, The Christian Science Monitor.  Redirect is about fighting … Read more 

The following NYT op-ed piece by Arthur Brooks makes a compelling case that solutions to our most challenging problems must include key elements of opposing positions.  Not just because rigid partisanship prevents fruitful discussion but because the solutions that will … Read more 

Hats off to House Speaker Paul Ryan for his strong plea for greater civility in our tumultuous electoral cycle. “Politics can be a battle of ideas, not insults,” he said in an upbeat speech to Congressional interns on March 23. … Read more 

The intensity of the political noise caused by the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia reminds us of the Spinal Tap amplifiers turned up to “11”.  Painful to the ears.  But amid that noise is the outpouring of respect and admiration … Read more 

As the election season kicks into high gear the overall tone is swinging even further into the attack zone.  While unfortunate, that is natural in an election when candidates’ strategies are all about differentiation. However, those not up for election … Read more 

A Stanford sociology professor looks at a key element of finding common ground: understanding the values of those with views different than yours and crafting your arguments accordingly. It’s a way to bring light, not heat to a debate.
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The following piece by Jeff Jacoby is thought-provoking but concludes with a prediction, we hope, will be proven wrong.  It’s thought-provoking because the civility of Ronald Reagan demonstrates what we at Common Ground Committee know is true: one can debate … Read more 

Our hat is off to two-time Common Ground Committee panelist Jared Bernstein who demonstrates in the link below that he is walking the civility talk. Note how blog entry author David Henderson speaks about Jared with respect and appreciation – … Read more 

The opening of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate is a very tangible demonstration of how bipartisanship and a spirit of working together for the good of the county is highly valued by both the public and our leaders even if it is not well-practiced. To us it is yet another data point indicating that our leaders would naturally operate more collaboratively if they were not influenced by the far ends of the political spectrum where the most vocal and well-funded political operations reside. The EMK Institute’s vision to promote “an appreciation for participatory democracy and civil discourse” gets to the heart of how we can bring change to the way our leaders conduct the business of governing. We applaud the EMK Institute, Senator Kennedy, those who created the institute, and the leaders who have and will demonstrate its core values. Read more 

In a significant bipartisan move backed by President Obama, the House agreed on changing the formula for doctors’ fees and extending the Children’s Health Insurance Program. We heartily applaud Mr. Boehner and Ms. Pelosi for working together to put this … Read more 

We were heartened by the bipartisanship that was demonstrated by the US Senate and political forces such as the Koch brothers and the American Civil Liberties Union in putting together the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act.  Another proof point that … Read more 

    Finding common ground can be very difficult. But, as this article suggests, the probability of success substantially increases when one understands the other side’s perspective and context. We believe a crucial attribute of a “common grounder” is consistently … Read more 

  A fundamental principle in the forums we produce is that people who know their stuff and disagree can still find points of agreement if they are challenged to do so.  This article by Robert Wright in the Atlantic shows … Read more 

All Mitch McConnell said it best “When the American people choose divided government, I don’t think it means they don’t want us to do anything.”  We couldn’t agree more.  Both sides of the political aisle are signaling a bi-model strategy … Read more 

There is a lot of evidence to suggest that Americans are not as divided politically as it would seem. Yes, our elected officials struggle to work together on the more important issues. But people outside of the beltway continue to see eye-to-eye on issues more often than they don’t. This is one of the reasons we at Common Ground Committee believe that finding common ground on important issues is achievable. Check out this DC Decoder article from our media partner, the Christian Science Monitor. Read more 

We appreciate the seven recommendations for new producers and consumers put forth by Darrell West and Beth Stone of Brookings that, if followed, would lead to news consumers being better able to understand the implications of policy generally and personally.  … Read more 

Recently, Thomas J. Donohue, CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, gave an important speech about restoring civility. His remarks are important:

. . . Most of our rights in a free society also carry responsibilities. This is especially true when it comes to speech. Read more 

George Will makes an important point about the critical difference between a parliamentary democracy and our system that puts in place structures to protect the rights of the minority — in this case, the Senate conservatives. Read more 

Sometimes common ground is actually not the right goal. Rather, bringing about tolerance and understanding among those of opposing views is the place to focus because how people view those that differ rather than the differences themselves is the problem. … Read more