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Let's Find Common Ground

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.

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Environment and Climate Change: Can Young Americans Bridge the Gap?

Young Americans, aged 18-29, believe that the threat from climate change is real regardless of their ideological leanings, compared to older Americans. 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%). In this episode, we ask: can the youngest generation of voters put aside partisan differences and agree on policies needed to protect climate and the environment as well as address the needs of businesses and the economy? We discuss the role of government, business, and how to find on common ground. 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. 

27mins

27 May 2021

Rank #1

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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.

28mins

13 May 2021

Rank #2

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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.'"

27mins

29 Apr 2021

Rank #3

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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. 

31mins

15 Apr 2021

Rank #4

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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.

25mins

1 Apr 2021

Rank #5

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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.

28mins

18 Mar 2021

Rank #6

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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.

27mins

4 Mar 2021

Rank #7

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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.

25mins

18 Feb 2021

Rank #8

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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.

31mins

4 Feb 2021

Rank #9

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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.

26mins

21 Jan 2021

Rank #10