Let's Find Common Ground

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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.

Common Ground Committee


    • Nov 24, 2021 LATEST EPISODE
    • every other week NEW EPISODES
    • 27m AVG DURATION
    • 45 EPISODES


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    Latest episodes from Let's Find Common Ground

    Coming Together Across Divides: Holiday Season Special Episode

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 24, 2021 24:14

    What happens when people of opposing viewpoints and diverse backgrounds work in teams, have conversations, or even sit across the table from each other at family gatherings? How do they come together and listen to others who see the world very differently? In this special episode, we compile a series of inspiring stories from past shows. Mother and daughter Robbie Lawler and Becca Kearl share deep love and respect but vote for different parties. Psychologist Tania Israel explains practical, proven ways to go beyond your bubble and get out of opinion silos and comfort zones. Race reconciliator Daryl Davis and former white supremacist Ryan Lo'Ree discuss their remarkable work together to deradicalize members of hate groups. Co-authors, Republican Jordan Blashek and Democrat Chris Haugh, recount their unlikely friendship that blossomed not despite, but because of their political differences.  Radio and podcast journalist Ashley Ahearn talks about what she learned from her new friends and neighbors after moving from progressive Seattle to a conservative ranching country in rural Washington State. All on “Let's Find Common Ground.” After deep skepticism, Dr. Gisèle Huff, a longtime proponent of school choice, and Becky Pringle, President of the National Education Association, came together to work on a new vision for the future of education.

    Hidden Progress: A More Hopeful Future

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 11, 2021 20:44

    Sometimes the future can seem dark. The pandemic drags on. Climate change is upon us. Political polarization remains toxic. When stories of division fill the headlines it's easy to feel like the only way is down. But what if that's not true? What if we gave less airtime to voices of doom and more to voices of hope? Our guests on this episode are Zachary Karabell and Emma Varvaloucas. Zachary is the founder of The Progress Network, Emma is its executive director. The Progress Network focuses on what's going right with the world and amplifies voices of optimism. Zachary joins us from New York and Emma from her adopted home in Greece, where she's gained an outsider's perspective on the US. Emma and Zachary are also the hosts of the podcast ‘What Could Go Right?'

    A Climate Scientist Makes the Case for Hope with Katharine Hayhoe

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 28, 2021 23:13


    Climate change is one of the most divisive issues in our country today. But this wasn't the case 20 years ago. How did we get here?  Katharine Hayhoe is a climate scientist and chief scientist for The Nature Conservancy as well as a professor at Texas Tech University. And she's the author of a new book called Saving Us - a Climate Scientist's Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World.  In this episode, Katharine explains how climate change became so polarizing, and how each of us can play a part in bridging the divide by starting conversations (even if we never use the words ‘climate' and ‘change' together.) She gives examples of how she, an evangelical Christian, talks to other Christians who may dispute the reality of climate change.   Katherine says altering the status quo is easier than we think: the most important thing we can do to curb climate change is talk about it. 


    How Should We Respond to the Vaccine Hesitant? With Dr. Jay Baruch

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 14, 2021 27:16

    As an ER doctor, Jay Baruch has been treating Covid patients since the start of the pandemic. He still sees many patients sick with Covid in his ER - the vast majority unvaccinated.   It might seem reasonable for him to share the anger and frustration that many vaccinated Americans feel about the unvaxxed. While Jay wants everyone who is eligible to get the shot, he says judgment does nothing to persuade the hesitant to get the vaccine, and that there is a better way to respond. Jay is a Professor of Emergency Medicine at Brown University's Alpert Medical School. He is also a writer. In this episode he discusses his desire for a more open dialogue about vaccination, one that involves listening to people's stories, empathizing with their concerns, and recognizing that all human beings are complicated.

    Understanding Trump Voters and American Populism. Salena Zito

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 30, 2021 27:13

    Unlike the vast majority of journalists who cover U.S. politics, columnist Salena Zito lives far away from the centers of power and wealth. Twice a year she leaves her home in western Pennsylvania and drives thousands of miles across the country on back roads, visiting towns and rural communities that are often ignored by the national media. In this episode, we learn about the perspectives of voters who support Donald Trump and the populist coalition that reshaped the Republican Party.  Selena, a columnist for the Washington Examiner and the New York Post is the author of "The Great Revolt: Inside the Populist Coalition Reshaping American Politics”. She previously wrote for The Atlantic and Pittsburgh Tribune Review.  While on the road, Zito goes to high school football games, attends church services, and eats at local diners. "One of the things that makes my reporting different is that I try to treat each story that I write as though I am from the locality," she tells us.  Hear some of the insights and views of those who live in what Salena calls 'the middle of somewhere.' 

    Depolarizing America: Bridge Builders: Bringing People Together. Nathan Bomey

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 16, 2021 27:21

    Common Ground Committee is part of a robust and growing national movement of bridge builders, who are working to reduce incivility and toxic polarization in America today. We look in-depth at this diverse, vital coalition.  Who's involved and how are they tackling racial, cultural, and political schisms that threaten American democracy? Our guest, Nathan Bomey, is a reporter for USA Today, and author of the new book, "Bridge Builders: Bringing People Together in a Polarized Age." In this interview, we hear stories about people from many walks of life who are building the structure of a new, more united America. "Despite its transformational qualities, bridge building often attracts considerable resistance," says Bomey. "In many cases, that's because bridges promise to disrupt the status quo for people who previously benefited from or preferred social isolation." This episode looks at a constructive way forward.

    Monuments and Marriage. The Most Personal Lessons About Race: Errol & Tina Toulon and Caroline Randall Williams

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 2, 2021 26:06

    The need to find common ground for improving race relations has rarely been more urgent than it is today. In this episode, we share profound insights from an interracial couple and an African-American scholar and poet. Caroline Randall Williams wrote a widely-read opinion column for the New York Times that added fresh insight to the debate over Confederate monuments and how America remembers its past. As a Black southern woman with white ancestors, she brings an innovative and passionate first-person point of view. We also share the deeply personal story of Errol Toulon, the first African-American Sheriff of Suffolk County, New York, and his wife, Tina MacNicholl Toulon, a business development executive. She's white. He's black. Tina tells us what she's learned since their marriage in 2016 about racism, “driving while Black,” and other indignities that are often part of a Black person's daily life. This episode includes edited extracts from longer interviews that were first published in 2020.

    American Foreign Policy: Challenges, Threats, Opportunities. Ned Temko and Scott Peterson

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 19, 2021 29:31


    The takeover by the Taliban in Afghanistan; a more aggressive China and Russia; a newly-elected hardline President in Iran: All are all major challenges facing President Joe Biden and his Administration.  Our podcast guests are Ned Temko, who writes the weekly international affairs column “Patterns” for The Christian Science Monitor, and Scott Peterson, the Monitor's Middle East bureau chief. Both are highly experienced and well-traveled foreign correspondents, who bring depth and expertise to coverage of global affairs. Among the many topics covered in this episode: Similarities and differences to Trump's "America First" approach, the implications of the rapid withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, why China is the biggest overseas challenge for the Biden Administration, relations with America's allies, and the increased threat to human rights in Asia and Middle East. Join us to gain fresh insight on the rapidly evolving international situation.


    Education Reimagined with Becky Pringle and Gisele Huff

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 5, 2021 24:46

    Everyone wants the best education for their children. But parents and teachers don't always agree on how to get there. In this episode, we hear from two education leaders whose views clashed when they first met. Gisele Huff is a philanthropist and longtime proponent of school choice, including charter schools. Becky Pringle spent her career in public education. A science teacher for three decades, she is now President of the National Education Association, the nation's largest labor union.  After some deep initial skepticism, these women and other leaders came together and developed a transformational vision for US education. Along the way, they developed a deep respect for one another, and a friendship that has helped each of them through personal tragedies. This episode is co-produced in partnership with Convergence Center for Policy Resolution— one of a series of podcasts that Common Ground Committee and Convergence are producing together. 

    The Long-Term Care Crisis: Howard Gleckman, Stuart Butler and Paul Van de Water

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 22, 2021 28:51

    Most baby boomers who retire today can expect to live years longer than their parents or any previous generation. That's the good news. But there's a greatly increased need for long-term care as they age. The current system is in crisis and needs much more than a facelift. In this episode, we hear first from a policy expert, Howard Gleckman, of the Tax Policy Institute, who explains why solutions to this crisis have been so hard to find. We also interview Stuart Butler and Paul Van de Water on their differences over paying for long-term care, and how they found common ground.  This podcast was produced with the help of Convergence Center for Policy Resolution. Convergence recently published Rethinking Care for Older Adults, a report with recommendations to improve care, housing, and services for seniors.

    How to Take Direct Action Against Hate: Daryl Davis and Ryan Lo'Ree

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 8, 2021 28:53

    What steps are needed to cause people to leave white supremacist and other hate groups of their own volition? In this deeply personal podcast episode, we explore the tactics and commitment needed to be successful in this work. Daryl Davis, an award-winning Black musician, race reconciliator and renowned lecturer, has used the power of human connection to convince hundreds of people to leave white supremacist groups. His fellow guest, Ryan Lo'Ree, a former white supremacist, is now an interventionist working to deradicalize people who have been lured into right and left-wing extremism. These two men, who came from very different backgrounds and belief systems, discuss their life experiences, lessons learned in their work, and what motivates them to convince people to change their convictions. Watch the recording of the Common Ground webinar with Daryl and Ryan: “Turning Racism and Extremism into Hope and Healing.” Listen to our 2020 podcast with Daryl: “KKKrossing the Divide – A Black Man Talks With White Supremacists.” Read Nicholas Kristof's profile of Daryl in The New York Times— “How Can You Hate Me If You Don't Even Know Me?”

    Depolarizing America: #ListenFirst and America Talks. Kristin Hansen and Mizell Stewart

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 24, 2021 27:40

    We learn about two brave and successful attempts to get Americans of differing backgrounds and political convictions to engage in personal face-to-face conversations. America Talks and the National Week of Conversation, both held in mid-June, were part of expanding efforts to push back against deep divides and toxic polarization. In this episode, we discuss lessons learned, insights gained, and the vital difference between talking and listening. Our guests are Kristin Hansen, Executive Director at Civic Health Project and Director at AllSides, and Mizell Stewart, Vice President, News Performance, Talent & Partnerships for Gannett and the USA Today Network. Both were involved in this new initiative.

    Guardrails of Democracy: Law and Reform. Rick Pildes

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 10, 2021 29:09

    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. 

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

    Play Episode Listen Later May 27, 2021 27:16

    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.     

    Environment & Climate – Can Business Bridge the Gap? Stephanie Hanes & Mark Trumbull

    Play Episode Listen Later May 13, 2021 28:42

    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.

    Does America Need a Third Political Party? David Jolly

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 29, 2021 27:58

    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.'"

    Bridging the Rural-Urban Divide— Ashley Ahearn

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 15, 2021 31:59

    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. 

    Should We Be Aiming for Unity And Ending Toxic Polarization? A Top Expert on Conflict Resolution Weighs In

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 1, 2021 25:12

    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.

    Depolarizing America: Bridging Divides on Campus

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 18, 2021 28:32

    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.

    Depolarizing America: Finding Common Ground in Congress. Betsy Wright Hawkings and Tamera Luzzatto

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 4, 2021 27:50


    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.


    The Case for Black Lives Matter: Hawk Newsome

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 18, 2021 25:50

    "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.

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

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 4, 2021 31:42

    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.

    Depolarizing America. What Can All of Us Do? Tania Israel

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 21, 2021 26:30

    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.

    James Baker: The Art of Compromise. Peter Baker and Susan Glasser

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 7, 2021 32:24


    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.


    2020 Special Moments. Our Search for Common Ground

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 23, 2020 26:54


    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.


    In This Together: Climate Change. Bill Shireman and Trammell Crow

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 10, 2020 26:34

    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."

    Same Family. Different Politics: Becca Kearl and Robbie Lawler

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 25, 2020 28:59

    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.

    What The Voters Told Us: Christa Case Bryant and Story Hinckley

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 12, 2020 31:08

    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.

    Election Briefing: "Why I'm Voting For...." Philippa Hughes and John Pudner

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 29, 2020 30:27

    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.

    Seeking Common Ground in Congress: Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R)

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 22, 2020 34:46

    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.

    2020 Election Briefing: U.S. Foreign Policy. Peter Ford and Howard LaFranchi

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 8, 2020 22:56

    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.

    Reforming politics: Civility, Compromise and Common Ground. Amy Dacey and Pearce Godwin

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 24, 2020 30:50


    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.


    Election Briefing: Can We Hold a Fair Election?: David Hawkins and Tristiaña Hinton

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 10, 2020 26:44

    With only weeks to go before the 2020 election, many challenges remain to holding a free and fair vote in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.  From likely surge in mail-in ballots, to changes in polling places for millions of voters and the urgent need for accuracy, we discuss whether the election will be a smooth exercise of democracy or result in a constitutional crisis.  David Hawkings, Editor-in-Chief and Tristiana Hinton, Audience Development Editor, of The Fulcrum explain America's many different statewide systems of voting, and why it could take days or weeks for winners to be declared. We look at the disputes between Republicans and Democrats, including the possibility of a disputed result, and explore why many local election officials from both parties share common ground on the need for fair and accurate results.    The Fulcrum is a non-profit, non-partisan digital news organization focused exclusively on efforts to reverse the dysfunctions plaguing American democracy. The Fulcrum and Common Ground Committee are members of Bridge Alliance, which acts as a connectivity hub for over 90 civic action organizations.

    2020 Election Briefing: Climate Change. Eoin O'Carroll & Eva Botkin-Kowacki

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 27, 2020 22:21


    From devastating hurricanes to increasing destruction caused by wildfires, growing numbers of Americans are suffering from the impacts of drought, storms and other extreme weather events.  On “Let's Find Common Ground” we're looking at some of the most important issues facing voters as they make their choices in the 2020 election.  Climate change is a much more important issue for many voters now than it was in 2016. According to a recent poll by Pew Research Center, a record-high 60% of Americans say it is a major threat to the well-being of the United States. We gain a deeper understanding from journalists Eva Botkin-Kowacki and Eoin O'Carroll of The Christian Science Monitor. Both Eva and Eoin are staff reporters, covering science, technology and the environment. They tell us that climate change is no longer a theory. We are living with some of the early results.


    Jordan Blashek, Chris Haugh. Two Friends: One Democrat, the Other Republican Search for Common Ground

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 13, 2020 23:39

    How far apart are we as a nation? A liberal writer from Berkeley and a conservative military veteran decided to answer that question together during a series of long road trips in an old Volvo. They drove through 44 states and on nearly twenty thousand miles of road and highways, meeting 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 road trips is the new book, “Union: A Democrat, A Republican, and a Search for Common Ground.” In this podcast episode, we discover what they learned about the American politics, culture, civics, and the condition of our democracy. “Our honest takeaway is that we're not as far apart as imagined,” Chris tells us. “Underneath a patina of difference and division, there is a common language.”

    Caroline Randall Williams: "My Body is a Confederate Monument."

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 30, 2020 24:16

    "The black people I come from were owned and raped by the white people I come from," wrote author, poet and academic Caroline Randall Williams in a widely-read opinion column for The New York Times. As a Black southern woman with white ancestors, her view of the debate over how America remembers its past is deeply personal. This episode is the latest in our podcast series on racism and its painful legacy. Recent protests across the country have sparked renewed controversy over confederate statues, and the naming of military bases and public buildings that celebrate men who fought in the Civil War against the government of the United States.  Should the monuments be repurposed or removed? We discuss ways to find common ground and better our understanding of the American history. Caroline Randall Williams is a writer in residence at Vanderbilt University. She is a resident and native of Tennessee. Some of her ancestors were enslaved. Others included a prominent poet and novelist, and a civil rights leader. She is the great-great grand-daughter of Edmund Pettus, who was a grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan and U.S. Senator from Alabama. 

    Errol and Tina Toulon: Lessons From an Interracial Couple.

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 16, 2020 30:27

    What can we discover about personal pain caused by racism? In this episode, we speak with an inter-racial couple to find out what a well-educated white professional woman learned from her African American husband, a senior law enforcement official.  Our guests are Errol Toulon, elected as first African American Sheriff of Suffolk County, New York, and Tina MacNicholl Toulon, a physician liaison and business development executive. She tells us what she's learned since their marriage in 2016, about racism, "driving while black", and other indignities that are all too often part of a black person's daily life. The need to find common ground and improve race relations has taken on new urgency with recent anti-racist protests and demands for profound change in America. Both Tina and Errol believe that education is a crucial ingredient in reaching a much better understanding about widespread racism. By speaking out publicly about their own experiences, they believe they're contributing to a vital discussion aimed at improving public understanding of a divisive and disturbing part of American life.

    Art Acevedo and Maya Wiley. Reforming The Police.

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 2, 2020 40:07

    Outrage, grief, and despair over cases of police brutality and racism erupted nationwide, with growing demands for major reforms. The protests appeared to sway public opinion. A Washington Post poll in June found that 69% of Americans agreed that the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis suggests a broader problem within law enforcement.  This episode brings together a police chief and a critic of law enforcement. Both discuss their hopes for better policing in the future, and find some areas of agreement on proposed changes, including greater diversity, better training, and firmer action against officers who step over the line.   Art Acevedo is Chief of Police for the Houston Police Department. He now serves as President of the Major Cities Chiefs Association. MSNBC legal analyst Maya Wiley is a civil rights activist, former board chair of New York City's Civilian Complaint Review Board, and senior vice president for Social Justice at The New School.

    Professor Ilyasa Shabazz, Dr. Brian Williams: What Racism Means to Me

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 18, 2020 33:17


    Nationwide protests against racism, police violence, and racial inequality have shaken the nation to its core. Support for Black Lives Matter and anger over police treatment of African-Americans grew dramatically in recent weeks. Outrage over the disturbingly graphic deaths of George Floyd and other black men and women have changed the debate over racism. In this podcast, we look for potential areas of common ground, and consider the prospects for lasting change. Our guests are Ilyasah Shabazz, and Brian Williams, MD. Professor Shabazz often speaks about the remarkable legacy of her father, Malcolm X. She promotes higher education for at-risk youth and interfaith dialogue to build bridges between cultures for young leaders of the world. Doctor Williams led the trauma team that treated police officers ambushed by a sniper in Dallas in 2016 - the largest loss of life for US law enforcement since 9/11. "Education and discussion is a start, but not enough," Dr. Williams tells us. "A lot of us have been educating and talking and waiting for a long long time. Now is the time for action." If we're taught hate we're never going to solve any problems. It looks like that's what the young people are saying and it's great, says Professor Shabazz. "We need our young people to have their voices, to speak up and help us make change." In this podcast, we discuss the findings of two studies related to racism: Research on children's perceptions of black and white dolls, and the 40-year U.S. Public Health Service study of syphilis in Macon County, Alabama.


    Daryl Davis: KKKrossing the divide: A Black man talks with white supremacists

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 4, 2020 34:33

    Communities of color face visible threats. The recent murder of Ahmaud Arbery, a young Black jogger in Georgia, and the killing of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis, reverberated across the country, sparking an outpouring a pain and rage. These cases of racial violence and bias were only the latest on a very long list of attacks and murders of African-American men and women. At this profoundly painful time, we speak with musician and bandleader, Daryl Davis, a Black man who has spent the past 35 years on a remarkable quest: speaking with, and at times befriending, members of white supremacist groups. He has helped more than 200 KKK members to renounce their racist ideology.  "We have to ask ourselves the question: do I want to sit back and see what my country becomes, or do I want to stand up and make my country become what I want to see," Daryl tells us. "I've chosen the latter. And so you have to get into the thick of it."

    Admiral James Stavridis: Pulling Out of the Pandemic. Creative Strategies

    Play Episode Listen Later May 21, 2020 25:58


    The coronavirus emergency is the world's biggest crisis of the 21st century--worse than the tragic losses ‪on 9/11, and the economic damage of the great recession. Using lessons from history, we look at positive ways for all of us to emerge from the pandemic. Retired Admiral James Stavridis spent 37 years in the US navy and served in both Democratic and Republican administrations. He led US Southern Command in Miami and served as the 16th Supreme Allied Commander at NATO. His latest book is "Sailing True North". Admiral Stavridis calls himself "a very serious cook” and is spending time during the lockdown learning a new language: Portuguese.


    Paul Light. Shared National Sacrifice: Are We Ready?

    Play Episode Listen Later May 7, 2020 24:04

    The times ahead may be radically different than what most of us have experienced so far in our lives. This episode considers what kind of sacrifices will have to be made now and in the future. How can volunteers make a difference? What needs to be done to prevent a further fraying of the fabric of our national life? Guest: Professor Paul Light of New York University, who often writes about public service, and has testified before Congress.

    Wesley Clark. The Leadership We Need at a Time of Crisis.

    Play Episode Listen Later May 7, 2020 25:05

    What does it take to be an effective leader at a time of unprecedented crisis? We look at the vital skills great leaders share in common. Guest: Retired four-star general, former Supreme Allied Commander Europe, and 2004 Democratic Presidential candidate, Wesley Clark. He shares his unique experience in the military, business, politics, and as the leader of the non-profit group, Renew America Together. 

    Jared Bernstein & Maya MacGuineas. Saving Lives and the Economy

    Play Episode Listen Later May 7, 2020 27:20

    The world is struggling with a devastating global health emergency, but pressure is building to end lockdowns and ease other restrictions. What are the best ways to restart the U.S. economy without risking public health? We discuss how to find common ground while navigating this challenge. Guests: Jared Bernstein, former economic advisor to Vice President Biden in the Obama Administration and Maya MacGuineas, President of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. 

    Introducing Let's Find Common Ground

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 30, 2020 1:47

    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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