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Let's Find Common Ground
31 minutes | Jun 10, 2021
Guardrails of Democracy: Law and Reform. Rick Pildes
American democracy is being challenged by hyper-polarization, widespread distrust of competing parties, and extremists who seek to weaken democratic values and institutions. In a recent poll, only one-in-six Americans said our democratic system is working very well, while nearly two-in-three voters told a Pew Research Center survey that major reforms are needed."I certainly feel we are more vulnerable than we have ever been in the modern era," says our podcast guest, constitutional law scholar, Rick Pildes, a professor at New York University’s School of Law, and author of the book, “The Law of Democracy: Legal Structure of the Political Process.”In this episode, we discuss proposed changes aimed at strengthening democracy— from ranked-choice voting and reform of political primaries, to limiting gerrymandering, and campaign finance reform.
27 minutes | May 27, 2021
Environment and Climate Change: Can Young Americans Bridge the Gap?
Few issues cause deeper divisions than the debate over environment and climate. In this episode, we ask: can Generation Z and younger millennials come much closer to finding common ground than their parents' generation?The vast majority of Americans aged 18-29 believe that the threat from climate change is real. Recent polling shows that Republican voters, born after 1980, are much more likely than older Republicans to think that government efforts to reduce climate change have been insufficient (52% vs. 31%).We discuss the role of government, business, and how to bridge differences successfully. Our guests are Danielle Butcher, a conservative political executive and a leader of the American Conservation Coalition, and a liberal, Andrew Brennen, who is a National Geographic Explorer and Education Fellow, who co-founded the Kentucky Student Voice Team.
29 minutes | May 13, 2021
Environment & Climate – Can Business Bridge the Gap? Stephanie Hanes & Mark Trumbull
Banks & businesses are betting big on sustainable investments. Can they help politicians bridge the gap on climate change?When Joe Biden talks about the challenge of fighting climate change, he mentions jobs: not green jobs or renewable energy jobs, but “millions of good-paying union jobs.”The new administration is working to reframe the conversation about the environment at a time when many of Wall Street’s largest banks and corporations are betting big on sustainable investments — from electric cars and trucks to new kinds of renewable and carbon-free energy.On Let’s Find Common Ground, we interview journalists Stephanie Hanes and Mark Trumbull of The Christian Science Monitor, and learn the latest on the changing landscape in the great debate over the environment and climate. Can business help politicians from both major parties bridge some of their differences? Listen to find out.
28 minutes | Apr 29, 2021
Does America Need a Third Political Party? David Jolly
Growing numbers of voters are fed up with politics as usual. In a recent survey, 62% of Americans say a third party is needed — up 5% from September of last year, and the highest it has ever been since Gallup polls first asked the question nearly twenty years ago. Our podcast guest, former two-term Florida Congressman David Jolly, says it's time to reexamine the system that reinforces the entrenched power of both the Republican and Democratic parties. Last year, Jolly was named Executive Chairman of the Serve America Movement (SAM), a growing organization that exists in some states as a third party, and in others as a non-partisan political reform group that backs office holders who work across party lines.SAM calls itself a big tent political movement that brings people together who have different ideologies but shared political principles. In this episode, David Jolly makes the case for his movement's ambitious goal: fixing our broken politics in America. "Multiparty democracies give greater voice to more people," David tells us. "We have allowed the two major parties to protect the duopoly themselves. The one thing that today's Democratic and Republican parties agree on is 'let's create the rules of the game in a way that we are only two major participants.'"
32 minutes | Apr 15, 2021
Bridging the Rural-Urban Divide— Ashley Ahearn
She lived in liberal Seattle and covered science, climate change and the environment for NPR for more than a decade. Then in 2018, journalist Ashley Ahearn made a big jump, moving with her husband to one of the most conservative counties in rural Washington State.In this episode of "Let's Find Common Ground," we hear about the profound rural-urban divide in America, and what Ashley discovered about her new neighbors and herself when she switched from the city to the country, now living on a 20-acre property with a horse and a pickup truck. We also discuss how politics and views of the land and climate differ greatly according to where people live.Recently, Ashley Ahearn launched her 8-part podcast series, "Grouse", which looks at life in rural America through the lens of the most controversial bird in the West— the greater sage-grouse. One of her great passions is storytelling, and helping scientists better communicate their research to the broader public.
25 minutes | Apr 1, 2021
Should We Be Aiming for Unity And Ending Toxic Polarization? A Top Expert on Conflict Resolution Weighs In
When Joe Biden became president he wanted to bring Americans together, to forge unity. But maybe unity isn’t what we should aim for. Our guest this week says instead of focusing on that elusive goal, Americans need to concentrate on what’s damaging all of us: toxic polarization.In this episode we look at what toxic polarization is and how to end it, person by person.Peter Coleman has advised the Biden administration on how to detoxify America. He is a mediator and psychologist who specializes in conflict resolution. A professor of psychology and education at Columbia University, he is the author of the forthcoming book, The Way Out: How to Overcome Toxic Polarization.
29 minutes | Mar 18, 2021
Depolarizing America: Bridging Divides on Campus
With American democracy in crisis, can students save the day? For college students it can be frightening to consider the prospects for a better tomorrow. But addressing the problems in our political system will require the next generation to be more engaged and less polarized.BridgeUSA was formed by college students to tackle the crisis head-on, with campus-based chapters at colleges around the country. This non-profit group hosts discussions and events, champions ideological diversity, teaches constructive engagement, and aims to promote a solution-oriented political culture. BridgeUSA’s chief goal is to develop a new generation of political leaders who value empathy and the common good.Guests for this episode are Manu Meel, a recent graduate of U.C. Berkeley and Chief Executive Officer of BridgeUSA, and Jessica Carpenter, a senior at Arizona State University, who runs brand management and communications at BridgeUSA.
28 minutes | Mar 4, 2021
Depolarizing America: Finding Common Ground in Congress. Betsy Wright Hawkings and Tamera Luzzatto
By almost any measure, Congress is much more rigidly divided along partisan lines than it was 30 years ago. Politicians run nationalized campaigns, not local ones, and frequently demonize the other side.We examine ways to find common ground among lawmakers, and those who work on Capitol Hill, with two deeply experienced Washington insiders.Betsy Wright Hawkings served as chief of staff for four Republican members of Congress over 25 years and helped build bipartisan coalitions on a range of vital issues. She is now Managing Partner of Article One Advisors, a consulting firm focused on giving organizations strategic advice on how Congress functions. Tamera Luzzatto served as former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s chief of staff in the U.S. Senate from 2001 to 2009. Before that, she was on the staff of Democratic Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV for 15 years. Today, she is Senior Vice President of government relations at Pew Charitable Trusts.
26 minutes | Feb 18, 2021
The Case for Black Lives Matter: Hawk Newsome
"All lives will matter when Black lives matter," says our guest, Hawk Newsome, in this passionate, challenging, and fascinating podcast episode. The co-founder and Chair of Black Lives Matter Greater New York answers the skeptics and makes the case for a movement that has grown in scale and significance since widespread protests erupted last summer after the killing of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis.A devout Christian who has spent much of his life campaigning for racial and social justice, Hawk Newsome, discusses his views on love vs. violence, systemic racism, and how he reached out to Trump supporters during a tense rally in Washington in 2017. The conversation transcends the simple designations of left and right and seeks to find meaningful solutions that respond to the realities faced by people and communities.In our podcast, we mentioned this story about what Hawk does during weekends.
32 minutes | Feb 4, 2021
Depolarizing America: Building Consensus Step-by-Step: Rob Fersh and Kelly Johnston
Kelly Johnston and Rob Fersh disagree strongly on many issues and voted differently in the 2020 election. But they are friends and wrote recently that they "agree on major steps that must be taken for the nation to heed President-elect Biden’s welcome call for us to come together."Both believe that constructive steps must be taken to help build trust among Democrats and Republicans, despite deep polarization and a firm resistance to bipartisanship from both ends of the political spectrum. They encourage open dialogue between sectors and interest groups whose views diverge in an effort to deal with divisive political discourse.Kelly Johnston is a committed Republican and a former Secretary of the U.S. Senate. Rob Fersh founded Convergence Center for Policy Resolution, and previously worked for Democrats on the staffs of three congressional committees.Both are guests on "Let's Find Common Ground". They discuss bridge-building and why this work is so urgently needed now in an era of political gridlock. Click on bonus audio as Rob describes the process at Convergence.
27 minutes | Jan 21, 2021
Depolarizing America. What Can All of Us Do? Tania Israel
The vital task of finding common ground in American politics became much more difficult in the traumatic days after the violence and mayhem at the U.S. Capitol. While many Americans viewed the pro-Trump crowd as thugs, others thought of them as patriots.This podcast is the first in a new series on dealing with polarization. We speak with professor Tania Israel, author of "Beyond Your Bubble: How to Connect Across the Political Divide, Skills and Strategies for Conversations That Work." Dr. Israel is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and past-President of the Society of Counseling Psychology. In this episode, we discuss practical, concrete steps listeners can take to have meaningful conversations that reach across deep divisions. In a time of anger, deep divisions, and even political violence, how do we begin to de-polarize America? What is our personal role in finding common ground? Are there practical steps all of us can take? "One of the things I recommend is being curious. Try to find out more about what's behind what somebody says," Tania Israel tells us.
32 minutes | Jan 7, 2021
James Baker: The Art of Compromise. Peter Baker and Susan Glasser
James Baker was at the center of American political power for three decades. His resume is exceedingly impressive— Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury, and White House Chief of Staff, twice. He ran five presidential campaigns. Baker's accomplishments were far-reaching— he helped end the cold war, reunify Germany, assembled the international coalition to fight the Gulf War, and negotiated the rewriting of the U.S. tax code.Quite simply, he was "The Man Who Ran Washington," which is the name of a highly-praised new book, co-authored by our guests, New York Times chief White House correspondent, Peter Baker (no relation), and his wife, Susan Glasser, staff correspondent for The New Yorker.In this episode, we discuss how Washington has become a more angry, and anxious place. We learn about Baker's track record of successful governance, his steely pragmatism, why the art of compromise is crucial to almost any negotiation between powerful rivals, his deep friendship with the first President Bush, and Baker's opinion of Donald Trump.
27 minutes | Dec 23, 2020
2020 Special Moments. Our Search for Common Ground
From tragedy and disruption caused by COVID-19, to impassioned pleas for racial justice heard across the country, and the deep divisions in our politics, 2020 was a year like no other. On "Let's Find Common Ground", we've shared a remarkable range of thoughtful, personal and surprising conversations about some of the most important topics of our time. We revisit a few of the most memorable and special moments in this year-end episode. Among the highlights: Houston's Chief of Police Art Acevedo and New York City civil rights activist and mayoral candidate, Maya Wiley, discuss ways to find common ground on police reform. Eva Botkin-Kowacki of The Christian Science Monitor reveals how environmental activists and farmers use different language to discuss the threat of a changing climate. Republican Brian Fitzpatrick and Democrat Abigail Spanberger explain how they work together to pass laws and find solutions to controversial issues in a dysfunctional Congress. We also listen to fascinating insights from an inter-racial couple, Errol and Tina Toulon, about how they are viewed by others.
27 minutes | Dec 10, 2020
In This Together: Climate Change. Bill Shireman and Trammell Crow
For decades, environmental activists have cast themselves as defenders of the planet against greedy, profit-hungry corporations. At the same time, many conservatives have ridiculed the science of climate change, and warned against the economic costs of the Green New Deal and similar initiatives.In this podcast, we explore a new narrative with two environmental campaigners. Bill Shireman and Trammell Crow are authors of the book, "In This Together: How Republicans, Democrats, Capitalists and Activists Are Uniting to Tackle Climate Change and More."Bill Shireman is President of the non-profit Future 500, which brings together people of all points of view to discuss environmental reform. He teaches leadership and negotiations at UC Berkeley Haas Business School, and is a founding member of BridgeUSA. Business leader and developer Trammell Crow is the President of the Crow Family Foundation. He is a founder of Texas Business for Clean Air and a member of the Clean Capitalist Leadership Council. "We have our conflicts, but we are not at war with each other," says the In This Together website. "Together we will be solution focused, not divisive, as we champion freedom, justice, prosperity, and sustainability for all."
29 minutes | Nov 25, 2020
Same Family. Different Politics: Becca Kearl and Robbie Lawler
In a time of deep and sometimes bitter political division, what are the most effective ways to have conversations with family members who vote for a different party or don't see the world the way that you do?In this episode of "Let's Find Common Ground" podcast, we explore the challenges and opportunities faced by many families, especially as they come together during the holidays. Our guests are Becca Kearl, a Joe Biden supporter, and her mom, Robbie Lawler, who went for Donald Trump.Becca is a Managing Partner at the non-profit group, Living Room Conversations. She is a founding member of the Utah Dialogue Practice Network. Becca is also fully engaged in the non-profit venture of raising five kids with her husband in Provo, Utah.Robbie Lawler is a mother of six and was named National Mother of Young Children in 1996. She has received awards for community projects she worked on, and most recently was events coordinator for the Law School at Brigham Young University. She lives with her husband in Alpine, Utah.We share tips and ideas about how to have difficult or awkward conversations with those you love. Find more constructive suggestions here from Living Room Conversations.
31 minutes | Nov 12, 2020
What The Voters Told Us: Christa Case Bryant and Story Hinckley
Voters sent decidedly mixed messages in the 2020 election. This episode looks at what we can learn from then about how divided the country is — or isn’t.Voters in cities, suburbs and rural parts of the country went to the polls in record numbers. We discuss the extraordinary level of interest in the presidential campaign, and reasons why President-elect Biden won five million more votes than President Trump. Our guests are Christa Case Bryant, a national political reporter for The Christian Science Monitor, and Story Hinckley, a National Political Correspondent in Washington on the newspaper’s national news desk in Washington. Both traveled extensively during the 2020 campaign, listening to voters and politicians in battleground states. They share their rich and moving experiences on the frontlines of the campaign, and what they learned from the many people they met along the way.
30 minutes | Oct 29, 2020
Election Briefing: "Why I'm Voting For...." Philippa Hughes and John Pudner
With just days to go before the 2020 election, we invited a Trump supporter and a Biden backer to join us in the same (virtual) room, and share the personal reasons behind their vote. We have a lively, spontaneous and surprisingly friendly discussion about the President's controversial personality, the final debate, and big policy and leadership differences between the two candidates. John Pudner is voting for Donald Trump. He is Executive Director of Take Back Our Republic, a non-profit group and a member of Bridge Alliance. John spent three decades managing Republican political campaigns, and was the eldest of 9 children growing up in a 3 bedroom house in inner city Richmond, VA where he attended a conservative, Catholic high school whose alumni included Steve Bannon. Now John is the father of 9 children.Philippa P.B. Hughes is voting for Joe Biden. She produces and creates art projects, and is CEO, Chief Creative Strategist and Social Sculptor at CuriosityConnects.us, a non-profit organization that designs pop-up galleries and physical spaces that bring people together who might not normally engage in dialogue and thoughtful interaction. Philippa is the daughter of a conservative Vietnamese mother and a white father who was a lifelong union member. She also grew up in Richmond, but until our podcast conversation had never met John.
35 minutes | Oct 22, 2020
Seeking Common Ground in Congress: Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R)
With just days to go before a bitterly contested election, we speak with two Members of Congress, one Republican and one Democrat, who are reaching across rigid partisan divides, recognizing the value of compromise and seeking constructive change.Democrat Abigail Spanberger is the U.S. Representative for Virginia's 7th Congressional District, and is serving her first term. In 2018, she defeated a Republican incumbent to win the district, which includes most of the northern suburbs of Richmond. Brian Fitzpatrick is a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Pennsylvania's 1st Congressional district. His district includes all of Bucks County, a mostly suburban area north of Philadelphia.Reps. Spanberger and Fitzpatrick both score highly on the new Common Ground Scorecard rankings.
23 minutes | Oct 8, 2020
2020 Election Briefing: U.S. Foreign Policy. Peter Ford and Howard LaFranchi
President Trump's "America First" policy has led to a U.S. withdrawal from many global institutions. For decades after World War II, American leadership in the world was taken for granted. Today, the future of American hegemony is deeply uncertain. In this election briefing, we explore the future of foreign policy with two highly experienced journalists, Peter Ford and Howard LaFranchi. Based in Paris, Peter is global affairs correspondent for The Christian Monitor. Prior to his current job, he spent a decade as Beijing Bureau Chief. Howard has been The Monitor's diplomacy correspondent in Washington D.C. since 2001. We discuss the U.S. pullback from the World Health Organization during the COVID-19 pandemic, America's exit from the Paris climate accord, deteriorating relations with China, and the differences between Joe Biden and Donald Trump on America's role in the world.
31 minutes | Sep 24, 2020
Reforming politics: Civility, Compromise and Common Ground. Amy Dacey and Pearce Godwin
More than 8 out of 10 Americans think the country is divided, and a large majority says public debate has gotten worse in recent years. A recent survey found most voters agree that significant changes are needed in the fundamental design and structure of American government to make it work for current times. In this episode, we explore the urgent need for common ground with Amy Dacey, Executive Director of the Sine Institute of Policy & Politics at American University, and Pearce Godwin, CEO of Listen First Project, and a leading member of Weaving Community. During the 2016 presidential election, Amy served as the Chief Executive Officer of the Democratic National Committee. She has managed national organizations and advised leading elected officials and candidates, including President Barack Obama and Senator John Kerry. Pearce is from a conservative political background, and formerly worked as an aide in the House and Senate and for Republican Party campaigns.We speak with both of them about the new Common Ground Scorecard, which rates candidates and elected officials on their ability to reach out beyond their base and engage with voters and other elected officials who come from another party or viewpoint.
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