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Let's Find Common Ground

Common Ground Committee LLC

News, Politics

52.7K Ratings


As the tone of public discourse becomes increasingly angry and divisive, Common Ground Committee offers a healing path to reaching agreement and moving forward. We talk with top leaders in public policy, finance, academe and more to encourage the seeking and finding of points of agreement, and to demonstrate how combating incivility can lead us forward.

106 Episodes

Racism Renounced: A Black Man Talks With White Supremacists. Daryl Davis

Acclaimed musician and recording artist Daryl Davis has interviewed hundreds of KKK members and other White supremacists and influenced many of them to renounce their racist ideology. We hear his brave and remarkable story. Daryl's personal quest began many years ago, after a concert when he was in a country music band. A card-carrying member of the Ku Klux Klan praised his piano playing. Daryl recognized that he had an opportunity to ask an important question about racism: “How can you hate me when you don’t even know me?” Daryl Davis is the author of "Klan-Destine Relationships"— the first book written about the Ku Klux Klan by a Black writer. His work in race relations has been highlighted in speaker series across the country. His documentary film, "Accidental Courtesy", features his process of conversation and understanding to bridge differences and promote racial reconciliation.

Transcribed - Published: 29 February 2024

Is Everything We're Told About Independent Voters Wrong? Jackie Salit and John Opdycke

Independent voters make up well over 40 percent of the voting public. But you wouldn’t know that from media coverage, which focuses almost exclusively on red versus blue. Independents are often overlooked or seen as wishy-washy, bending in the wind. Our guests on this episode say that’s a big misconception. In this show, we look at a huge group of voters, including many young people, who make up a growing slice of the US population. Significantly, the number of American voters identifying as independent is at a record high. Our guests are both political experts. Jackie Salit is the author of Independents Rising and president of Independent Voting, an organization dedicated to bringing respect, recognition, and reform to independent voters. John Opdycke is president of Open Primaries, which campaigns for primary elections in which every American can participate, not just registered Republicans or Democrats.

Transcribed - Published: 15 February 2024

How Curiosity Can Bridge Dangerous Divides: Mónica Guzmán

In this presidential election year, partisan divides cause political gridlock and distrust. We're encouraged to believe that we're right and those on the other side are ignorant, stupid, or evil. But avoiding awkward conversations with those we disagree with is a big reason why America is so bitterly divided. Journalist, bridge builder, and author Mónica Guzmán is the loving liberal daughter of conservative Mexican immigrant parents. We hear the personal story told with humor and passion of how Mónica set out to understand what divides America. In this episode of "Let's Find Common Ground", we discuss practical ways to use our own sense of curiosity to have cross-partisan conversations with colleagues, friends, and family. Mónica is the author of the book "I Never Thought Of It That Way". She serves as Senior Fellow for Public Practice at Braver Angels, and hosts the podcast series, "A Braver Way".

Transcribed - Published: 1 February 2024

What Americans Want from Politicians— And What They're Not Getting: Sean Westwood

American politics are often dominated by the loudest voices on the left and right. In this episode, we learn the crucial difference between what Americans get from their elected representatives and what they really want to hear. Professor Sean Westwood of Dartmouth College is our guest. As Director of The Polarization Research Lab, he studies American political behavior and public opinion, examining how partisanship and information from political elites affect the behavior of citizens. "There is an absolute need for common ground," Sean Westwood tells us. The research shows that most Democrats and Republicans "know very little about the other side and have significant misperceptions." We learn why elites, including political leaders and celebrities, have a powerful impact on public behavior. "When we humanize the opposition and bring politicians together and demonstrate how they can have civil disagreement, you set norms that the public will follow," he says.

Transcribed - Published: 18 January 2024

The Third Founding

With our political system mired in problems, there’s plenty of talk about ‘fixing politics.’ But our guest Mark Sappenfield, Editor of the Christian Science Monitor, says that idea is too simplistic. What needs to change, he says “is upstream from politics. It’s how we relate to each other as human beings in our society. And until that changes, politics isn’t going to change.” In a deeply thoughtful conversation, Mark shares his personal take on where the U.S. is and where it needs to go. Americans’ expectations have changed a lot in recent years with mass internet access and the instant gratification brought about by digital life. We want something? We expect to get it within hours. But Mark argues this culture of convenience and focus on the self has seeped into the rest of our lives, altering our expectations for what politicians can do for us and absolving us of personal responsibility. From his current home in Germany Mark discusses the upside of a less convenient daily life, the difference between compromise and curiosity, and how a societal re-set he calls 'a third founding’ may be needed to get America back on track.

Transcribed - Published: 4 January 2024

Year-End Show: Conflict, Patriotism and Creative Ways to Find Common Ground

Our final podcast for 2023 is the one-hundredth episode of “Let’s Find Common Ground”. We look back and include special moments from six shows during the year. Americans disagree on many things, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Journalist and author Amanda Ripley explains why, all too often, we see conflicts that are more about scoring points than seeking resolution. Rachel Kleinfeld of the Carnegie Endowment, who studies democracy and conflict, discusses whether America’s divides could be spinning out of control. Author and Washington Post columnist Ted Johnson examines race and patriotism in creative, thoughtful ways. In this episode, we also share several extraordinary moments in our conversation with two women on opposite sides of the abortion debate, and how they gained respect and understanding for each other without compromising their views on one of the most contentious issues of our time. Two faith leaders joined us to discuss religion's role in finding common ground. And acclaimed television journalist Judy Woodruff of the PBS NewsHour gives us a vivid example of how Washington DC is much more divided than it once was.

Transcribed - Published: 21 December 2023

Disagree Better: Politics Across Divides. Utah Governor Spencer Cox

Recently, during a public event at Utah's State Capitol, Governor Spencer Cox issued a stark warning: "Either we, the people, collectively decide we're going to stop hating our fellow Americans, or we'll start shooting each other." In our podcast, we hear why Governor Cox passionately believes that the country is heading in a dangerous direction with hyperpartisanship and political dysfunction and what he's doing about it with his Disagree Better Initiative. Spencer Cox, a Republican, is the 2023 Chair of the bipartisan National Governors Association. He selected "Disagree Better" to be the Association's current campaign. Through public debates, service projects, meetings, and public service announcements, Disagree Better brings together red and blue governors, looking at the problems of polarization and how to elevate solutions that Common Ground Committee and other groups in the bridging community are implementing.

Transcribed - Published: 7 December 2023

The Soul of Civility

The state of public discourse is often dire and includes insults and threats. We assume the worst of the other side and are not afraid to call them out publicly, especially online. Our guest on today’s show says this behavior isn’t just rude. It’s uncivil. And that civility - not politeness - makes a real difference in how we think about ourselves and treat each other. Our guest, Alexandra Hudson, is the author of the new book The Soul of Civility: Timeless Principles to Heal Society and Ourselves. She grew up in a family where manners mattered. When she went to work for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in the Trump administration, she thought good manners would help her navigate a hostile work environment. But she failed to thrive, despite putting politeness and friendliness into overdrive. She left politics deflated. Still, her experience got her thinking about true civility and how it can help us find common ground. As the holiday season begins, we explore the difference between civility and politeness, how loneliness and isolation contribute to an uncivil society, and the important part hospitality plays in being genuinely civil.

Transcribed - Published: 21 November 2023

Finding Common Ground In-person— Not Over Zoom: State Reps. Mark Klicker and Alex Ramel

When conservative Republican Mark Klicker and liberal Democrat Alex Ramel met in person for the first time, their opinions about each other rapidly changed. A frosty online exchange of policy differences over Zoom quickly turned into a constructive example of close bipartisan cooperation. After Washington State eased COVID restrictions and resumed in-person legislative sessions last year, Representatives Ramel and Klicker worked together on a renewable energy tax bill. The state legislation has just become law. Much of tax revenues from wind and solar will now go to the communities where renewable energy is produced. The bill was designed to answer some potential local objections to renewable energy projects and to make progress on combating climate change. In this episode, both legislators tell us that online legislative sessions were a barrier to bridging differences and finding common ground. What had been missing during months of online meetings were moments of eye contact and the opportunity to establish informal, in-person contact. We hear more about their legislation, finding common ground on the environment, and their friendship across partisan divides.

Transcribed - Published: 9 November 2023

Polarization and political violence: Rachel Kleinfeld

Violent threats against members of Congress are up, and hate crimes have increased to the highest levels ever recorded. Fear is being used as a tool by both Republicans and Democrats to win votes. In this episode, we speak with Rachel Kleinfeld, a fellow in the Democracy, Conflict, and Governance Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Rachel says people talking across differences isn’t enough to end polarization, even if it can create goodwill and lower the temperature in the short term: there needs to be institutional change and politicians who come together to defend democratic norms. A recent podcast guest in the UK told us it sometimes seems like the US is on the verge of civil war. Rachel says this is unlikely. As someone who grew up in Alaska among neighbors firing the occasional warning shot from their yards, Rachel knows firsthand that ‘threats and justification for violence are not the same as attacks.’

Transcribed - Published: 26 October 2023

Populism, Polarization, and Threats to Western Democracy: Rory Stewart

Rory Stewart walked across Afghanistan, was an elected politician, served as a senior British government minister, and was a visiting fellow at Yale University. Today he is the host of a highly successful podcast— "The Rest Is Politics"— and outgoing president and advisor of the global anti-poverty charity, GiveDirectly. By any measure, he is a man of many parts. In our podcast, Stewart raises the alarm about threats to democracy in Europe and the U.S., explains his detailed understanding of common ground, and discusses the stark difference between skills needed to win political office and what's needed to govern well. We ask him about the parallels between U.S. and U.K. politics, the threats to democracy from populism, and how other elected politicians overseas view America's current political division and dysfunction. "The U.S. public square really looks incredibly divided," Rory Stewart tells us. We also discuss his outspoken new memoir about his years in the U.K. Parliament and government, "How Not To Be a Politician."

Transcribed - Published: 12 October 2023

The Challenge of Fixing Congress

What a time to try and fix Congress. But that’s what our guests on this episode are determined to do. This show features two politicians from the newly launched Fix Congress caucus. Reps Derek Kilmer (D-Wa) and William Timmons (R-SC), first appeared on our show last year as members of the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress. The stakes were high when we recorded this latest interview: the budget deficit had once more taken center stage, and the countdown to a possible government shutdown was underway. These members of Congress are frustrated but also hopeful. They discuss dealing with the vast amount of federal government debt, the support congressional leaders have shown for their efforts, and how technology can play a part in fostering bipartisanship.

Transcribed - Published: 28 September 2023

A New Definition of Citizenship: Rights and Obligations. Richard Haass

When we consider the meaning of citizenship, most Americans usually think about individual rights. In this episode, we hear a bold call for change. Our guest, Richard Haass, says that if democracy is to survive, we must re-envision citizenship and consider our obligations to one another. He argues that the greatest threat the country faces comes not from foreign adversaries but from none other than ourselves. Finding common ground and healing bitter divides, he says, requires placing obligations on the same footing as rights. "We get the government and the country we deserve. Getting the one we need is up to us." A highly experienced diplomat and policymaker, Dr. Haass served in the Pentagon, State Department, and White House under four Presidents, Democrat and Republican alike. His new book is "The Bill of Obligations. The Ten Habits of Good Citizens". For 20 years Richard Haass was president of the nonpartisan Council on Foreign Relations. Today he serves as CFR's president emeritus.

Transcribed - Published: 14 September 2023

How States Hold Fair Elections. Secretaries of State Michael Adams and Steve Hobbs

Until recently most of us outside of state government didn’t know much about the role of Secretary of State, the state’s top election official. We simply didn’t think about it. But since 2020, election laws and procedures have been in the spotlight – and election officials have come under attack. In this episode of Let’s Find Common Ground, we meet Democrat Steve Hobbs, Secretary of State for Washington, and Republican Michael Adams, Secretary of State for Kentucky. Kentucky is a vote-in-person state, while Washington has voting by mail and at the dropbox. But no matter how people vote, suspicion of the entire process is rife. In recent years both men have encountered election deniers and faced threats to themselves and their staff. “These abuses, even if they’re not full-fledged threats of violence - it adds up,” says Michael Adams, “and it begins to really lay some strain on our election process. Hear what each of our guests is doing to protect democracy in his state, why being part of the Electronic Registration Information System (ERIC) is important to them, and how volunteers play a vital role in free and fair elections.

Transcribed - Published: 31 August 2023

Broken Media? Restoring Trust in News Coverage. Mark Sappenfield, Story Hinckley

The United States has one of the highest news avoidance rates in the world. Tens of millions of Americans don’t read, watch or listen to the news each day. The media is generally held in low regard. So, is there a better way to report and analyze current events that will satisfy readers’ interests? In this repeat episode, we hear from Mark Sappenfield, Editor of The Christian Science Monitor, and Story Hinckley, the paper's National Political Correspondent. We’re re-releasing this podcast as the 2024 campaign begins to gather pace — a time when many news outlets have amped up their coverage speculated about winners and losers, and put additional emphasis on the nation’s deep partisan divides. We discuss evolving news values with the Monitor and how reporters and editors are striving to highlight constructive solutions that unite rather than divide. We also hear about election coverage and why the media need to challenge readers, build trust, and report the news truthfully.

Transcribed - Published: 17 August 2023

Two Friends— a Democrat and a Republican— Search Together for Common Ground. Jordan Blashek, Chris Haugh

Are Americans really as divided as we think we are? One liberal and one conservative jumped in an old Volvo and drove along nearly 20,000 miles of roads and highways in a series of journeys to find the answer. They went through 44 states and met an extraordinary range of people along the way. At a time of political gridlock and hyper-partisanship, Republican Jordan Blashek and Democrat Chris Haugh formed an unlikely friendship that blossomed, not in spite of, but because of their political differences. The result of their remarkable road trips is their book Union: A Democrat, A Republican and a Search for Common Ground." In this podcast episode, we hear a mixture of wisdom and humor and discover what Chris and Jordan learned about American politics, culture, civics, and our potential to find common ground.

Transcribed - Published: 3 August 2023

Anti-Racism: Fighting Bigotry With Love. Chloé Valdary

Love is a central force in mitigating conflict, says writer and entrepreneur Chloé Valdary. She founded the diversity and inclusion training company, The Theory of Enchantment, and has a unique take on how we can heal racial division and hatred inside organizations and across American society. Chloé developed a program for "compassionate anti-racism" that combines social-emotional learning (SEL), character development and interpersonal growth as tools for leadership development in businesses and the workplace. She calls her method "an anti-racism program that actually fights bigotry instead of spreading it." Her three principles of enchantment are: "Treat people like human beings not political extractions", "Criticize to lift up and empower, never to tear down and destroy," and "Root everything you do in love and compassion." This episode is an edited version of a conversation first recorded for Village SquareCast, produced by The Village Square. Both Let's Find Common Ground and Village SquareCast are members of The Democracy Group podcast network.

Transcribed - Published: 20 July 2023

A Pragmatic Republican Makes His Case: Will Hurd

Moderate Republican Will Hurd insists that across the country "there is more that unites us than divides us." The former GOP Congressman threw his hat into the ring in June with a video announcement that he's running for President of the United States. Our latest episode of "Let's Find Common Ground" re-visits our interview with Will Hurd, recorded one year ago. Hurd stresses the need for both pragmatism and nuance when tackling guns, immigration, and other hot-button issues. But don't call him a squishy moderate. “In the media in Washington DC…moderate means middle of the road,” he says. “But in reality, moderates are the ones that do the hard work and get things done because they’re the ones that are having to take a philosophy to people that may not identify with it.” Will Hurd served as a CIA agent overseas and conducted briefings for members of Congress. This experience inspired him to run for Texas 23rd Congressional district, which he won in 2014. Congress. He was elected three times in a swing district where Democrats often win. Hurd says in our podcast interview that he succeeded by engaging with voters from both sides, not just voters who shared all his beliefs.

Transcribed - Published: 6 July 2023

The Big Challenge of Common Ground Politics: Tulsa, Oklahoma Mayor G.T. Bynum

Working across party divides is the best way to bring people together and make progress, says our guest, Tulsa Mayor, G.T. Bynum. But he also points out that common ground is “the least valued political real estate in America today”. Overwhelmingly reelected to office as a nonpartisan in a deep-red state, Mayor Bynum calls himself a moderate and tells us that his administration is a test case for “the belief that people of diverse beliefs can still work together to solve great challenges.” Two years ago, Mayor Bynum issued a statement apologizing on behalf of the city for the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, exactly 100 years after the racist attack. We discuss his support for long-delayed excavations of victims, and Tulsa's need for diversity, and how new immigrants add to prosperity and community building. Mayor Bynum acknowledges that in our divided times “the easy sugar high for candidates and elected officials is to hate ‘them’ and get one of the extremes on your side.” Our discussion looks at the need for common ground politics and respect for different communities.

Transcribed - Published: 22 June 2023

America at a Crossroads, with Judy Woodruff

Veteran journalist Judy Woodruff has been covering US politics for more than 50 years. She moved to Washington DC in 1977 and has been there ever since, reporting for NBC, CNN, and PBS, most recently spending 11 years as anchor of the PBS News Hour. During her career, she has gotten to know a lot of politicians socially as well as professionally. In this episode, we speak with Ms. Woodruff about her two-year reporting project to get to know America better, America at a Crossroads. This new series for the PBS News Hour will culminate with the 2024 presidential election. Woodruff explores our current divisions as she travels the country interviewing scholars, public figures, and ordinary people. She delves into how and why these divisions came about, and what we can do to find common ground. Please tell us what you think! Share your feedback in this short survey. For every survey completed we’ll plant 5 trees. Common Ground Podcast Feedback Survey (qualtrics.com)

Transcribed - Published: 8 June 2023

Patriotism: Pride, Race and Reckoning. Theodore Johnson

Memorial Day honors the men and women who sacrificed their lives in service to our country. In our next podcast episode, we discuss different ways to look at patriotism. Our guest, retired US naval officer and Washington Post newspaper columnist Theodore Johnson ponders the question, “How can we take pride in a nation with a history of injustice and inequality?” At a high school football game, Johnson, who is African-American, stood at attention when the national anthem was played. His teenage son, who was about to play in the game, took a knee in a protest against police brutality. Johnson argues that both acts were expressions of patriotism and is proud of his son's decision. "For me, being a patriot is not about uncritical celebration and talking only about how exceptional we are and how great the country is," Johnson tells us. "Being a true patriot requires that you both love the nation and critique it." On this insightful episode of "Let's Find Common Ground", Theodore Johnson also discusses his thoughts for how America can have more productive and uplifting discussions about race. Please tell us what you think! Share your feedback in this short survey. For every survey completed, we’ll plant 5 trees. Common Ground Podcast Feedback Survey (qualtrics.com)

Transcribed - Published: 25 May 2023

The Abortion Talks: They Found Respect, but not Common Ground. Frances Hogan, The Rev. Anne Fowler

We speak with two women from opposing sides of the bitter and often toxic debate over abortion. Frances Hogan and The Rev. Anne Fowler were involved in a series of years-long intensive, secret talks. Their candid conversations began after a gunman opened fire at two Massachusetts abortion clinics nearly thirty years ago. The attack left two women dead and five people injured. In this episode, we learn the extraordinary story of how Anne and Frances gained a much deeper understanding and respect for one another. They didn’t change their views about the abortion issue, but they did become friends. We share moments of compassion, kindness, and humor. Both Frances and Anne were among those profiled in the new documentary, "Abortion Talks", about what happened after the deadly attacks. On "Let's Find Common Ground", both of them explain how incredibly difficult it was to be part of many hours of exhausting conversations. We hear how they learned to overcome fear, stereotyping, misunderstandings, and anger. Please tell us what you think! Share your feedback in this short survey. For every survey completed, we’ll plant 5 trees. Common Ground Podcast Feedback Survey (qualtrics.com)

Transcribed - Published: 11 May 2023

Divided We Stand? What Americans Really Think About Politics

It’s often said that America is as politically divided as it has ever been. In this week’s show we dive into the data from two different groups that study American attitudes. What they discovered challenges some of our assumptions about the current state of US politics, and offers us a sense of context missing from noisy ‘us versus them’ type arguments. John Geer of Vanderbilt University discusses the latest findings from Vanderbilt’s Unity Index, which tracks Americans’ trust in institutions and democracy. Kate Carney, chief of staff at More in Common in Washington DC, talks about the group’s ‘Speaking to the Exhausted Majority’ report. Both reports are examples of deep research into the state of American public opinion and where common ground may lie. We discuss the extent to which US democracy is under threat, who really makes up the ‘exhausted majority’ of American voters, and what liberals and conservatives get wrong about the other side. Please tell us what you think! Share your feedback in this short survey. For every survey completed we’ll plant 5 trees. Common Ground Podcast Feedback Survey (qualtrics.com)

Transcribed - Published: 27 April 2023

High Conflict vs. Good Conflict: The Vital Difference. Amanda Ripley

Every day we are bombarded with negative news and polarizing opinions from politicians, pundits, and others who seek attention, power, and money by escalating division. Our guest, Amanda Ripley, calls them "conflict entrepreneurs." In this podcast, Amanda explains why she believes the problem we face in America isn't too much conflict. Instead, it’s the type of disagreement we are having. We hear about the crucial differences between constructive conflict, where different sides seek to find common ground, and destructive conflict where discord distills into a good-versus-evil kind of feud, with an "us" and a "them". Amanda Ripley is a journalist and columnist for The Washington Post. Her recent book is "High Conflict: Why We Get Trapped and How We Get Out." Please tell us what you think! Share your feedback in this short survey. For every survey completed, we’ll plant 5 trees. Common Ground Podcast Feedback Survey (qualtrics.com)

Transcribed - Published: 13 April 2023

Break Out of Your Bubble to Build Friendship and Empathy

Our last show focused on finding common ground when talking to strangers. In this show we explore friendship and empathy with two guests who are friends themselves, a Catholic priest and a Protestant pastor. Father Tim Holeda leads Saint Thomas More Co-Cathedral, and Latricia Scriven is pastor of Saint Paul’s United Methodist Church, both in Tallahassee, Florida. As religious leaders, our guests offer a perspective many people don’t have these days. They grapple with moral questions in their work that we often don’t consider, and draw on the wisdom of ancient texts to help them navigate our complicated modern world. Tune in to hear more on this latest episode of Let’s Find Common Ground. Thank you to The Village Square and The Village Square's God Squad, a politically diverse group of faith leaders, for making this show possible. Please tell us what you think! Share your feedback in this short survey. For every survey completed, we’ll plant 5 trees. Common Ground Podcast Feedback Survey (qualtrics.com)

Transcribed - Published: 30 March 2023

Break Out of Your Bubble: Talk to a Stranger

Most of us live comfortably in our bubbles, interacting with people who think and often look like us. We may sift out others who don’t fit our mold. A long pandemic hasn’t helped: Covid has made many people wary of being around strangers, let alone talking to them. If you live in a city you operate by invisible rules where you pay just enough attention to a stranger, allowing each of you the space to carry on politely…and distantly. But our guest on this episode says taking the time to talk to people you don’t know can bring unexpected pleasures, and lead to more openness and tolerance. Kio Stark is a qualitative researcher and the author of the book When Strangers Meet. She says when you engage with another person in a store, on a park bench, in line at the DMV, you are getting a peek into someone else’s world and entering into a shared humanity. You’re forging a connection that may help you see the world from another person’s perspective. As Kio says, “a conversation with a stranger can open up your idea of who you think of as part of the society in which you live.” Hear more on the latest episode of Let’s Find Common Ground. Please tell us what you think! Share your feedback in this short survey. For every survey completed, we’ll plant 5 trees. Common Ground Podcast Feedback Survey (qualtrics.com)

Transcribed - Published: 16 March 2023

Mass Shootings and Guns: Seeking Common Ground: Patrik Jonsson and Ryan Busse

In the first eight weeks of this year, America’s epidemic of mass shootings and gun crimes showed no signs of reprieve. In fact, the crisis may be getting much worse. According to the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit group that tracks firearms violence in the U.S., there have been at least 90 mass shootings since January 1. We take a close look at gun violence and the search for common ground. We learn why so many Americans love guns and say they need them for self-defense. We also hear about differences in regional attitudes to guns, and what happens to communities that witness mass shootings. Our guests are journalist Patrick Jonsson and gun safety advocate Ryan Busse, author of “Gunfight: My Battle Against the Industry That Radicalized America”. Patrik Jonsson is the Atlanta-based correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor. He writes about The South, gun rights, race, extremist groups, natural disasters, and hockey. Ryan Busse grew up around guns — hunting and shooting with his father and had a long and successful executive career in the gun industry. Despite being a strong critic of the NRA, he's still a proud gun owner, hunter, and outdoorsman who lives in Montana. Please tell us what you think! Share your feedback in this short survey. For every survey completed, we’ll plant 5 trees. Common Ground Podcast Feedback Survey (qualtrics.com)

Transcribed - Published: 2 March 2023

Why Republicans are Losing Gen Z

Almost 70 percent of Generation Z voted for Democrats in November’s midterm elections. As the years go by, Republicans are getting an ever smaller slice of the youth vote. In the last episode, we looked at why Democrats are failing with rural voters. This time we ask why the GOP does so badly with young ones. Generation Z is often described as overwhelmingly liberal. But our guests on this show - two young Republicans - say it’s not that simple, and that if the GOP engaged in better marketing and outreach, it could win over many of the young electorates. Joe Mitchell is a former state congressman from Iowa, elected to the Iowa House of Representatives at the age of 21. He is also the president and founder of Run Gen Z, a nonprofit dedicated to recruiting and mentoring the next generation of conservative leaders as they prepare to run for office. Karoline Leavitt ran for Congress in New Hampshire last year, securing the nomination in the state’s 1st Congressional District at the age of 25. Previously she worked in the White House as assistant press secretary to President Trump. Joe and Karoline say Republicans don’t need to change their conservative message to win over young voters. Rather they argue that the GOP should appeal to Gen Z where they are, particularly on social media, and support the young candidates trying to reach them. Please tell us what you think! Share your feedback in this short survey. For every survey completed we’ll plant 5 trees. Common Ground Podcast Feedback Survey (qualtrics.com)

Transcribed - Published: 16 February 2023

Why Democrats Fail With Rural Voters: Chloe Maxmin

Why do the two main political parties do so poorly with some large groups of voters? In this episode, we look at how in recent decades Democrats have been losing rural America by growing margins. In 1996, Bill Clinton carried nearly half of all rural counties. But in 2020 Joe Biden won majorities in fewer than 7% of these counties. Our guest, Chloe Maxmin, a progressive Democrat from rural Maine, was the youngest woman ever to serve in Maine's Senate. She was elected in a conservative district in 2020 after unseating a two-term Republican incumbent in a region that twice voted for Donald Trump by large majorities. She argues that her party has ignored voters in rural America and that their road to winning begins with respect, empathy, seeking common ground, and listening carefully to rural voters' concerns. On the doorstep candidates and volunteers, Maxmin argues, should "take the time to listen to why somebody believes the things they do and why they think the way they do." Our next show will focus on Republicans and their struggles with Gen-Z voters. Our previous episode was about why independent voters are ignored and misunderstood by both main parties. Please tell us what you think! Share your feedback in this short survey. For every survey completed we’ll plant 5 trees. Common Ground Podcast Feedback Survey (qualtrics.com)

Transcribed - Published: 2 February 2023

Why We Misunderstand Independent Voters

Independent voters make up more than 40 percent of the voting public. But you wouldn’t know that from media coverage, which focuses almost exclusively on red versus blue. Independents are often overlooked or seen as wishy-washy. Our guests on this episode say that’s a big misconception. In this show we look at a group of voters, including many young people, that is making up a growing slice of the US population. Our guests are Jackie Salit and John Opdycke. Jackie is the author of Independents Rising and president of Independent Voting, an organization dedicated to bringing respect, recognition and reform to independent voters. John Opdycke is president of Open Primaries, which campaigns for primary elections in which every American can vote, not just Republicans or Democrats. John and Jackie say that independents are not moderates: They envision a much less divisive political system than the current one, and they want to play a bigger role in American democracy. Please tell us what you think! Share your feedback in this short survey. For every survey completed we’ll plant 5 trees. Common Ground Podcast Feedback Survey (qualtrics.com)

Transcribed - Published: 19 January 2023

Local Common Ground: Dinner and a Fight. Simon Miontlake, Ted Wetzel, Tom Hach

Want to know one of the most exciting and innovative ways to find common ground? Get people out of their political bunkers and move them beyond rigid polarization in our divided nation. Consider local grassroots efforts, such as the one we profile in this podcast episode. Journalist Simon Montlake of The Christian Science Monitor tells us about his reporting on a lively grassroots effort in northeast Ohio to help people of all political stripes disagree constructively. Participants meet first over dinner at a community center and then debate a hot topic. The audience is invited to discuss a controversial proposition, listening to different points of view. It’s called Dinner and a Fight with the word "fight" crossed out and replaced by "dialog". Event organizers Ted Wetzel and Tom Hach explain how the evenings work and why they can be part of a broader effort to rebuild civic bonds. Ted is the founder and executive director of Fighting-To-Understand, a nonprofit group that encourages people to be more skilled at healthy disagreement. Former IT program manager and retired Navy Reservist Tom Hach is the Director of Ohio Freedom Action Network (OhioFAN). Please tell us what you think! Share your feedback in this short survey. For every survey completed we’ll plant 5 trees. Common Ground Podcast Feedback Survey (qualtrics.com)

Transcribed - Published: 5 January 2023

The Search for Common Ground: 2022 Year-End Show

2022 was a year of surprises in politics and the world beyond. In our year-end special, "Let's Find Common Ground" podcast puts the spotlight on six interviews that we published during the past twelve months. We hear former Congressman Will Hurd discuss moderation and extremes in American politics. Author and market researcher Diane Hessan tells us what pollsters often overlook when they speak with voters. Former gun industry executive Ryan Busse reveals the key differences between responsible gun ownership and the reckless use of firearms. Co-hosts Richard Davies and Ashley-Milne Tyte also feature their conversation with a prison reformer and a corrections industry executive. Two members of Congress— one Republican, one Democrat— explain their efforts to improve how Congress works. And a leading newspaper editor and reporter discuss how they face up honestly and creatively to bias and misinformation in the news media. Learn more at commongroundcommittee.org/podcasts

Transcribed - Published: 22 December 2022

Common Ground at Work: From Disaster to Success

Collaboration is seen as a given in working life. Being part of a team means cooperating with others on all kinds of projects. But the reality is few of us learn how to collaborate. And when a collaboration fails it can leave such bad scars that the people involved never want to work together again. In this episode, we speak with professor and collaboration expert Dr. Deb Mashek, author of the forthcoming book Collabor(hate): how to build incredible collaborative relationships at work (even if you’d rather work alone). Deb found that three-quarters of people have been in at least one collaboration they loathed. But she says if more of us learn some simple skills, these kinds of disasters can be avoided. She also reveals how her own journey from trailer park to Ph.D. helped her become an expert in human relationships.

Transcribed - Published: 8 December 2022

Talking with people you love, whose views you don’t. Holiday Special: Brian and Clare Ashcraft & Tania Israel

The holiday season is here but many people across the country may be dreading sitting down with their nearest and dearest— all because of politics. In the first half of this episode, we discuss political differences with a father and daughter who have different ways of seeing the world. Clare Ashcraft and her dad Brian live in Ohio. He’s an engineer and a conservative. She is a liberal-leaning college student. In the second half, we hear from an expert— well-known psychologist Tania Israel, author of “Beyond Your Bubble: How to Connect Across the Political Divide: Skills and Strategies for Conversations That Work." We share a series of smart tips that aim to minimize conflict and maximize cooperation with parents, family and friends. "Let's Find Common Ground" is hosted by Ashley Milne-Tyte and Richard Davies.

Transcribed - Published: 22 November 2022

Special Episode: Lessons From the 2022 Midterm Elections

Democrats feared and Republicans expected a "red wave" election, but it didn’t happen. Why was the outcome such a surprise? Who gets the credit and blame? How do results impact the near-term future? What are the prospects for finding common ground in Congress where both the Senate and House will have razor-thin majorities? We discuss these questions with two of America’s most experienced political thinkers: Democratic consultant Bob Shrum and Republican strategist Mike Murphy. Both men serve as co-directors of The Center for the Political Future at the University of Southern California. Mike Murphy is one of the Republican Party’s most successful political media consultants, having handled strategy and advertising for more than two dozen successful gubernatorial and senatorial campaigns. Bob Shrum was once described as "the most sought-after consultant in the Democratic Party," by The Atlantic Monthly. He was the strategist in over 25 winning U.S. Senate campaigns, eight successful races for governor, and numerous campaigns for Congress and statewide offices.

Transcribed - Published: 15 November 2022

Broken Media: The Roots of Today's News Crisis. With Chris Stirewalt

While many American consumers have given up their daily news habit, millions of others are now addicted to rage media— cable news and social media that push sensationalism, groupthink, and tribalism. This trend of "news bubbles" is relatively recent. Over the past 30 years, the decline of many regional newspapers has given way to a new form of slick, easy, and profitable national opinion journalism that caters to narrow segments of the population. In this episode, we look at the current state of the news industry and ask why the media and news consumers should insist on better journalism. Our guest is Chris Stirewalt, a columnist for The Dispatch, author, and former political editor for Fox News. Chris's new book is "Broken News: Why the Media Rage Machine Divides America and How to Fight Back."

Transcribed - Published: 10 November 2022

Broken Media: Restoring Trust in News Coverage. Mark Sappenfield and Story Hinckley

The United States has one of the highest news avoidance rates in the world. Tens of millions of Americans don't read, watch or listen to the news each day. The media are held in low regard by the public. So, is there a better way to report and analyze current events that satisfies readers' interests? We hear from Mark Sappenfield, Editor of The Christian Science Monitor, and Story Hinckley, the paper's National Political Correspondent. We're releasing this podcast less than two weeks before the midterm elections— a time when many news outlets have amped up their coverage, speculated about winners and losers, and put additional emphasis on the nation's deep partisan divides. To date, this episode of Let's Find Common Ground is our most downloaded episode. We discuss evolving news values with The Monitor and how reporters and editors are striving to highlight constructive solutions that unite rather than divide. We also hear about election coverage and why the media need to challenge readers, build trust, and report the news truthfully. In this episode, we mention Common Ground Scorecard— a tool that helps voters learn which elected officials and candidates are seeking common ground on vital issues. The President, Vice President and every Senator, Member of Congress, and governor has a personal rating. Learn more: commongroundscorecard.org.

Transcribed - Published: 27 October 2022

Bridging Divides on College Campuses: Clare Ashcraft and Jackson Richter

Rigid polarization and political division are among the biggest challenges facing our country. Young people often feel that tribalism is better than unity and that conversations across political and cultural divides are impossible. College students Clare Ashcraft, who comes from a conservative background, and Jackson Spencer Richter, who calls himself a committed liberal, are active members of BridgeUSA, a national movement of students working to emphasize the importance of empathy, understanding, and ideological diversity. In this episode we hear about students' personal experience of cancel culture, the impact of social media on Generation Z, and why many young people actually feel that free speech can harm or threaten their safety. We also learn about efforts to find common ground, equip students with skills to find solutions across divides, and build bridges with others of different backgrounds and points of view.

Transcribed - Published: 13 October 2022

Bridging Divides at Work

Polarization is not just a problem for Congress and our political system, it’s also taking a toll in the workplace. Employees are falling out with each other over politics and fiery issues in the culture wars. Organizations are trying to stem the discord. Some have banned political talk at the office. Others have taken a public stand on an issue of the day in an effort to ‘do the right thing’. Simon Greer, our guest on this show, says edicts like this won’t help, though more thoughtful approaches can. Simon is the founder of Bridging the Gap, a group that helps college students develop the skills to communicate well across differences. He also consults with organizations who face these same challenges among their workforces. He explains how he went from ‘bomb thrower’ to bridge builder over the course of his career, tells stories from his work with employers and employees, and outlines the very personal reason for his belief in the humanity of the other person.

Transcribed - Published: 29 September 2022

Two Young Southerners Speak Up on Guns

Our guests on today’s show are part of the school shooting generation. Each grew up with active shooter drills and concerns that their school could be next, concepts that were unthinkable when most of today’s politicians were in the classroom. Sophie Holtzman and Jackson Hoppe are sophomores at George Washington University. They are also joint vice presidents of their college’s chapter of BridgeUSA, a group that brings students of different ideologies together to have open discussions on political issues. Sophie, a liberal, and Jackson, a conservative, share stories of being raised in the South, their experiences with guns, and how listening to others’ opinions on the topic is a vital first step to finding common ground.

Transcribed - Published: 15 September 2022

Primaries and Polarization: Is The Whole System Broken?

The primary election season in this midterm election year is now over in most states. Turnout was often very low— less than 20% of registered voters showed up in many places— while the partisan divide was as wide as ever. In this episode, we hear from leading political strategists, scholars, authors, and journalists about the American system for choosing candidates who will face each other in November's election. We hear criticisms of closed party primaries and look at other ways to pick candidates for public office. Proposals aimed at reducing polarization include the introduction of ranked-choice voting and open primaries, where independent voters, and those who are neither registered Republicans nor Democrats, can participate. Guests include Former Democratic Party Chair Donna Brazille, ex-Congressmen Will Hurd, David Jolly, and Barney Frank, Domestic Policy Council Director Susan Rice, constitutional law scholar Rick Pildes, author Tony Woodlief, and journalists Salena Zito, Christa Case Bryant, and Story Hinckley.

Transcribed - Published: 1 September 2022

Millennial Politicians on Finding Common Ground: Jillian Gilchrest and Devin Carney

In US politics bipartisanship is now the exception, not the rule. But the Millennial Action Project is pushing back: it trains young leaders to bridge the partisan divide and work together to solve America’s problems. In this episode, we meet two members of the Millennial Action Project from opposite sides of the aisle. They are state representatives from Connecticut, Republican Devin Carney and Democrat Jillian Gilchrest. They discuss the joys and challenges of being a local politician at a time when national politics is so divisive. ‘Get to know me’ is something they often say to constituents who judge them solely on the ‘R’ or ‘D’ after their name. Carney and Gilchrest talk about listening and responding to their constituents, having their own prejudices upended, and how they find ways to agree for the good of their state.

Transcribed - Published: 18 August 2022

Companies: Crisis and Common Ground: Davia Temin

American business can be a force for finding common ground, but large corporations must now answer to a growing array of stakeholders, who often have opposing views on hot-button issues. In recent years, social media has also forced companies to respond immediately to a variety of conflicting demands. We discuss these challenges with Davia Temin, a highly respected marketing and reputation strategist, crisis manager and communications coach. We also learn the ways that business can help contribute to improving public discourse at a time of polarization and political conflict. "I think the landscape is almost unrecognizable for businesses these days, versus ten years ago," Davia tells us. In this episode, we hear about the daily hazards and opportunities for corporate leaders, and get practical lessons on how they can respond to today's changing political, cultural and social landscape. in a clear, caring and authentic voice.

Transcribed - Published: 4 August 2022

Energy, Climate, and National Security: The New Map. Daniel Yergin

The world is being shaken by a collision of energy needs, climate change, and clashes between nations in a time of global crisis— made much worse by Russia's all-out invasion of Ukraine. Roaring inflation has shocked consumers, the Biden Administration, and other governments around the world. In this episode we discuss the rapidly growing challenges of national security as well as opportunities for common ground with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Daniel Yergin, one of the world's foremost experts on energy, international politics and economics. We examine the reasons behind President Biden's latest visit to Saudi Arabia, Europe's rapidly growing dependence on U.S. oil and natural gas, and the changing threats to the West from Russia and China. Daniel Yergin's book, "The New Map: Energy, Climate and the Clash of Nations," led to his selection as Energy Writer of the Year by the American Energy Society

Transcribed - Published: 21 July 2022

Climate Action: A Progressive and a Conservative Find Common Ground. Bill McKibben and Bob Inglis

Environmental activist and author Bill McKibben warned the public about the perils of climate change and the damage human activity is causing more than forty years ago. Former South Carolina Republican Congressman Bob Inglis became a climate activist much later, but he is no less passionate. Both differ on politics and who to vote for, but they agree on the goal of sharply reducing carbon emissions as soon as possible. Inglis and McKibben join us for this episode of "Let's Find Common Ground". They sound the alarm about the need for urgent action. Bob Inglis is a conservative Republican and a committed believer in free enterprise capitalism and limited government. He’s executive director of RepublicEN.org, a conservative group that advocates for solutions to climate change. Bill McKibben is a writer and teacher who has dedicated his life to confronting the climate crisis. He has written a dozen books about the environment, is a distinguished scholar at Middlebury College, and leads the climate campaign group 350.org. Last year Bill launched Third Act, a new campaign aimed at engaging activists over the age of 60

Transcribed - Published: 7 July 2022

The Crucial Role of Centrists: Will Hurd

We live in a world of political extremes, with the far right and far left denigrating each other on a regular basis. But could the future lie with politicians who appeal to everyone else? Our guest on this show says yes. Former CIA agent and Republican congressman Will Hurd of San Antonio won three terms representing Texas’s 23rd district. He was told he could never it because it was bright blue, while he was red. Hurd says he succeeded by engaging with everyone, not just voters who shared all his beliefs. “In the media in Washington DC…moderate means middle of the road,” he says. “But in reality, moderates are the ones that do the hard work and get things done because they're the ones that are having to take a philosophy to people that may not identify with it.” Hurd grew up bi-racial in Texas, which gave him the early experience of finding common ground. In his book American Reboot he outlines how to "get big things done" by focusing on policy, not politics. He also shares his thoughts on what Americans should be worrying about, including losing control of the technology which we use to run our lives.

Transcribed - Published: 23 June 2022

Our Common Ground: What Polling Doesn't Reveal About Americans. Diane Hessan

All too often people in public life talk past each other and assume that all Americans are rigid Republicans or determined Democrats. So what happens when we actually listen and give voters the respect and space they need to explain how their true opinions? On guns, abortion, government spending and even partisan politics, most people may not be nearly as far apart as polling suggests. For more than four years, our guest, entrepreneur and market researcher, Diane Hessan, conducted a remarkable series of conversations with hundreds of voters from all across the country. She checked in with them every week. What Diane found may surprise you, give you hope, and change the way you feel about your fellow Americans. Diane also has some fascinating insights into the role of business, and how corporations could bridge divides among their workforce and the public at large. Note: Please take our brand new listener survey at commongroundcommittee.org/podcasts. We value your feedback.

Transcribed - Published: 9 June 2022

We're Less Divided Than We Think: Tony Woodlief

Every day on social media and cable TV, in newspapers and magazines, we're told that we live in a red-versus-blue world of rigid divides. Our podcast guest, Tony Woodlief, begs to differ. "In reality, most people fall somewhere in the middle, or else have a complex blend of views from both sides of the aisle, Tony tells us. His new book "I, Citizen" uses polling data, political history, and on-the-ground reporting to make the case that party activists and partisans are attempting to undermine the freedom of Americans to govern themselves and make decisions that have a direct impact on their lives. Many people have fallen for a false narrative promoted by leaders of political parties, academia, media, and government, that we're all team red or team blue, he argues. In this episode, we learn a different perspective and discuss how all of us can find common ground in our local neighborhoods and national discourse.

Transcribed - Published: 26 May 2022

Depolarizing America: Building Consensus Step-by-Step. Kelly Johnston and Rob Fersh

Kelly Johnston and Rob Fersh disagree strongly on many issues, and voted differently in the 2020 presidential election. But they are friends and “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. Rob Fersh founded Convergence Center for Policy Resolution, and previously worked for Democrats on the staffs of three congressional committees. Kelly Johnston, also a founding board member of Convergence, is a committed Republican and former Secretary of the U.S. Senate. In this episode of Let’s Find Common Ground, produced in partnership with Convergence, we talk with both Fersh and Johnston about bridge building and why this work is so urgently needed in an era of political gridlock.

Transcribed - Published: 12 May 2022

How Our Accents Can Divide and Unite Us

We all judge others on how they sound: their accent, their pronunciation, their use of slang. Some of us have been criticized for these things ourselves, mocked because we sound different from those around us. The way we speak can be a source of division. But it doesn’t have to be. In this episode we speak with Jessica Mendoza and Jingnan Peng of the Christian Science Monitor. They host the Monitor’s new podcast Say That Again?, which explores how we sound, how we listen, and how we can come to better understand each other. Both hosts and guests on this show were once newcomers to the US. We hear some personal stories of how their own voices have affected their experience, and how listening differently can help us all find common ground.

Transcribed - Published: 28 April 2022

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