Let's Find Common Ground

By Common Ground Committee

Listen to a podcast, please open Podcast Republic app. Available on Google Play Store.

Category: Politics

Open in Apple Podcasts

Open RSS feed

Open Website

Rate for this podcast

Subscribers: 22
Reviews: 0


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.

Episode Date
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.
Mar 30, 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.
Mar 16, 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
Mar 02, 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. 
Feb 16, 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. Want to hear more podcasts like these? What are your suggestions for future episodes? We want to hear from you! Tell us more. Go to:  https://commongroundcommittee.org/podcasts/
Feb 02, 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. 
Jan 19, 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).
Jan 05, 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
Dec 22, 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.
Dec 08, 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.
Nov 22, 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.
Nov 15, 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."
Nov 10, 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. 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.
Oct 27, 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. 
Oct 13, 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. 
Sep 29, 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. 
Sep 15, 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.
Sep 01, 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.
Aug 18, 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. 
Aug 04, 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
Jul 21, 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
Jul 07, 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. 
Jun 23, 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.
Jun 09, 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.
May 26, 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.
May 12, 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.
Apr 28, 2022
Guns: Ryan Busse Loves Them But Sees the Need for Limits on How They’re Used & Sold
The recent mass shootings in Sacramento, California, and at a subway station in Brooklyn, New York have prompted renewed calls for action on gun control. In this podcast episode, we gain a unique perspective on the raging debate with a former gun industry executive who says the NRA and its supporters have gone too far. Our guest, Ryan Busse grew up around guns— hunting and shooting with his father. He is a proud gun owner, hunter, and an avid outdoorsman, who lives in Montana. But today, Busse says that his industry radicalized large numbers of Americans, and argues it must change before gun violence can be reduced and our nation can heal.  After a successful 30-year career, he decided to retire from the gun manufacturer he worked for, and write "Gunfight", a book that tells the inside story of a little-known industry. In this episode, we learn about Busse's lifelong love of guns and discuss his call for sensible rules of conduct.
Apr 14, 2022
Healing Conversations Across Dangerous Divides: Mónica Guzmán
Mónica Guzmán is the loving liberal daughter of Mexican immigrants who strongly support Donald Trump. We hear her warm personal story of how Mónica set out to understand what divides America and discovered ways to overcome divisions that hurt our relationships and society. In this episode of "Let's Find Common Ground", we discuss ways to use our own sense of curiosity to have rewarding cross-partisan conversations with colleagues, friends, and family.  Mónica Guzmán is the author of the new book, "I Never Thought Of It That Way". She serves as an advisor to the depolarization organization, Braver Angels. Our interview shows listeners how to cross boundaries and find common ground with others from different viewpoints and life experiences.
Mar 31, 2022
Bridge Builders in Congress. Reps. Derek Kilmer (D) and William Timmons (R)
The public’s trust in government is near an all-time low. Now some politicians are recognizing that polarization and division in the United States is a threat to how our democracy functions. In this episode, we hear from two members of Congress: One Republican, one Democrat. Representatives Derek Kilmer and William Timmons both work together on the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress and are leading supporters of the Building Civic Bridges Act — a proposal that would fund federal and local efforts to reduce polarization.  We also discuss how bipartisan support for robust measures in response to the invasion of Ukraine may strengthen efforts to improve ties between Members of Congress of both parties.  This effort comes at a critical time. Recent polling has found that about four-out-of-five Americans are very or extremely concerned about America's political divisions. "Let's Find Common Ground", produced for Common Ground Committee, is co-hosted by Richard Davies and Ashley Milne-Tyte.
Mar 17, 2022
Finding Common Ground on Re-Entry from Prison
America has the highest rates of incarceration in the world. Once people leave prison the hope is that they’ll be law-abiding, productive members of society. But all too often this isn’t the case – four in ten prisoners are back behind bars within three years of release. In this episode, we meet two men who want to fix the US’s flawed re-entry process. And they come from very different backgrounds. Former prison warden and overseer of regional prisons, Daren Swenson, has spent his career in corrections. Georgetown University professor Marc Howard is a reformer who has long campaigned for the rights and humanity of incarcerated people. They were brought together by Convergence Center for Policy Resolution to come up with solutions that take into account both the dignity of people re-entering society and the public safety implications of their release.
Mar 02, 2022
Protecting American Democracy— The Military's Role: Retired Brigadier General Steven Anderson
What is the military’s role in protecting democracy? The question took on a new sense of urgency in the months after the riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, 2020. A deep partisan divide opened up over what actually happened on that day, how to describe the chaotic events, and who should be held responsible. After decades of service in the U.S. military, retired Brigadier General Steven Anderson decided to speak out about the threat of future insurrections and the possibility that a coup might succeed next time. "There is a significant threat being posed to our nation and our democracy," he says. While some of those arrested and charged in the attack were veterans or even active members of the military, General Anderson says America's armed forces can make a constructive contribution in the future. In this podcast, he tells us that The Pentagon should order a civics review for all members— uniformed and civilian— on the U.S. Constitution and electoral integrity. We also discuss how the military can foster diversity and common ground.
Feb 17, 2022
Black History Month: Achievements, Change, and Justice. Special Episode
Black History Month is a celebration of the remarkable contributions of black Americans to our nation. Some of our guests share their personal thoughts and stories about the lessons of history. We learn about the legacy of the civil rights movement, and recent calls for social change, justice, reform, and respect. This episode includes extracts from past podcasts and a Common Ground Committee public event.  Podcast guests featured: Professor Ilyasah Shabazz, the daughter of Malcolm X and the author of the memoir "Growing Up X", Dr. Brian Williams, Associate Professor of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery at the University of Chicago Medical Center, Hawk Newsome, Cofounder, and Chair of Black Lives Matter Greater New York, Errol Toulon, Sheriff of Suffolk County New York, and Caroline Randall Williams, a poet, author, teacher and Writer-in-Residence at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. We also share moving extracts from a conversation between Donna Brazille and Michael Steele for a Common Ground Committee forum in 2018. As the first Black chairs of the Democratic National Committee and Republican National Committee, respectively, their views represented different perspectives. But in tackling essential questions of race and governance, they found many points of agreement.
Feb 10, 2022
How Problem Solvers Caucus Attacks Gridlock in Congress. Don Bacon & Kurt Schrader
From the outside, Congress appears broken. Bills get bogged down in partisan fights, leaders openly smear each other, and animosity between members is at an all-time high. But our guests show that if you look closer, you’ll find a group of dedicated politicians working together across the aisle to craft workable legislation and get things done.  Republican Congressman Don Bacon represents Nebraska’s 2nd District. Democrat Kurt Schrader represents Oregon’s 5th District. Both are members of the congressional Problem Solvers Caucus, a group equally split between Democrats and Republicans who are committed to finding common ground on key issues. In our surprisingly candid conversation, we get a peek behind the curtain at what’s really going on in Congress, how the infrastructure bill was passed into law, and the harmful effect the media has on Americans’ view of politics. 
Feb 03, 2022
How The Budget Mess in Congress Hurts All of Us: Alison Acosta Winters & Emily Holubowich
This year the federal government is expected to collect more than $3.5 trillion in taxes— a vast amount of money by any measure. One of the key functions of Congress is to pass a budget. But often that seems close to impossible. Lack of agreement over federal spending regularly threatens to bring about government shutdowns that have a negative impact on millions of Americans. Yet few of us can even begin to understand the byzantine budget process.  Both of our guests in this episode have worked with other policy experts to make the budget process function better, with greater efficiency and transparency.  Alison Acosta Winters is a fiscal conservative and was most recently a senior policy fellow at Americans for Prosperity. Emily Holubowich is vice president for federal advocacy at the American Heart Association, and often supports more government spending. Brought together by Convergence Center for Policy Resolution, Alison, Emily and other stakeholders from diverse backgrounds spent months working together to come up with several major proposals for overhauling the budget process. This podcast is one of a series of episodes co-produced in partnership with the Convergence Center for Policy Resolution. Each show highlights the common ground that resulted from one of Convergence’s structured dialogues across differences.
Jan 20, 2022
The State of Polarization: 2022. Christa Case Bryant and Story Hinckley
One year after the January 6th assault on the U.S. Capitol, we take a close look at America's political divide with two journalists who covered the calamitous events on that day and the responses to them.  Our guests are Christa Case Bryant, Congressional correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor, and Story Hinckley, the Monitor's National political correspondent. We discuss whether America is more polarized than it was one year ago and the prospects for finding common ground in Congress and across the country. A Washington Post - University of Maryland opinion poll published on New Year's Day confirmed that Americans have totally different views of the 2020 election results. While large majorities of Democrats and independent voters say there was no evidence of widespread fraud, more than 60% of Republicans say there was. In their reporting throughout the year, both of our guests sought answers to complex questions about what caused people to storm the Capitol, and why Democrats and Republicans have opposing views about voter access and election laws. In this episode, we also examine the role of the media and individual reporters in covering the state of polarization in America today.
Jan 06, 2022
Change Makers: People Making a Difference. Dave Scott
In a world of crises and catastrophes, we look at a handful of extraordinary problem solvers: People who use their passion and personal experience of life to make a difference. Dave Scott, Engagement Editor at The Christian Monitor, tells us about remarkable individuals who use generosity, hope, and innovation to inspire others to uplift their fellow human beings.  With origin stories and personal anecdotes, we hear how listening and trust are essential elements in constructive change and finding common ground. This special year-end episode includes excerpts from the Monitor's new podcast, "People Making a Difference". We hear about what a 12-year-old can teach us about empathy and kindness; how the Sewing Machine Project has repaired thousands of lives around the world, and why LavaMaeX is providing hot showers, pop-up care villages, and radical hospitality for homeless people in California. Co-hosts: Richard Davies and Ashley Milne-Tyte.
Dec 23, 2021
Climate Action and the Global Need for Energy. Daniel Yergin
At a time of increasingly urgent calls for climate action, the world also faces ever-rising demand for energy. How can these two trends be reconciled as we experience soaring gas prices and supply chain disruptions?  Our guest is Pulitzer Prize-winning author and energy expert Daniel Yergin, Vice Chairman of IHS Markit and chairman of CERAWeek, which CNBC has described as “the Super Bowl of world energy.” Dr. Yergin says the energy transition is very complicated, and the degree to which the world still depends on oil and natural gas is not well understood.  In this episode, we look at the prospects for common ground among environmentalists and energy industry executives. We examine why a new map of energy and geopolitics is emerging. Daniel Yergin explains how future innovations in green energy could prove to be just as surprising as the "shale revolution” in oil and gas which transformed the American economy and ended an era of energy shortage.
Dec 09, 2021
Coming Together Across Divides: Holiday Season Special Episode
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.
Nov 24, 2021
Hidden Progress: A More Hopeful Future
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?’
Nov 11, 2021
A Climate Scientist Makes the Case for Hope with Katharine Hayhoe
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. 
Oct 28, 2021
How Should We Respond to the Vaccine Hesitant? With Dr. Jay Baruch
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.
Oct 14, 2021
Understanding Trump Voters and American Populism. Salena Zito
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.' 
Sep 30, 2021
Depolarizing America: Bridge Builders: Bringing People Together. Nathan Bomey
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.
Sep 16, 2021
Monuments and Marriage. The Most Personal Lessons About Race: Errol & Tina Toulon and Caroline Randall Williams
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.
Sep 02, 2021
American Foreign Policy: Challenges, Threats, Opportunities. Ned Temko and Scott Peterson
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.
Aug 19, 2021
Education Reimagined with Becky Pringle and Gisele Huff
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. 
Aug 05, 2021
The Long-Term Care Crisis: Howard Gleckman, Stuart Butler and Paul Van de Water
America’s long-term care system needs much more than a facelift. Is there a common path to solutions?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 came to find common ground. This podcast was co-produced in partnership with Convergence Center for Policy Resolution and is one of a series of podcasts that Common Ground Committee and Convergence are producing together. Convergence brings together key stakeholders of an issue to develop policies that deliver the most value to the greatest number of people. These projects emphasize collaboration and often result in friendships among people with strongly held opposing positions. Convergence recently published Rethinking Care for Older Adults, a report with recommendations to improve care, housing, and services for seniors.
Jul 22, 2021
How to Take Direct Action Against Hate: Daryl Davis and Ryan Lo'Ree
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?”
Jul 08, 2021
Depolarizing America: #ListenFirst and America Talks. Kristin Hansen and Mizell Stewart
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.
Jun 24, 2021
Guardrails of Democracy: Law and Reform. Rick Pildes
American democracy is being challenged by hyper-polarization, widespread distrust of competing parties, and extremists who seek to weaken democratic values and institutions.  In a recent poll, only one-in-six Americans said our democratic system is working very well, while nearly two-in-three voters told a Pew Research Center survey that major reforms are needed. "I certainly feel we are more vulnerable than we have ever been in the modern era," says our podcast guest, constitutional law scholar, Rick Pildes, a professor at New York University’s School of Law, and author of the book, “The Law of Democracy: Legal Structure of the Political Process.” In this episode, we discuss proposed changes aimed at strengthening democracy— from ranked-choice voting and reform of political primaries, to limiting gerrymandering, and campaign finance reform. 
Jun 10, 2021
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.     
May 27, 2021
Environment & Climate – Can Business Bridge the Gap? Stephanie Hanes & Mark Trumbull
Banks & businesses are betting big on sustainable investments. Can they help politicians bridge the gap on climate change? When Joe Biden talks about the challenge of fighting climate change, he mentions jobs: not green jobs or renewable energy jobs, but “millions of good-paying union jobs.” The new administration is working to reframe the conversation about the environment at a time when many of Wall Street’s largest banks and corporations are betting big on sustainable investments — from electric cars and trucks to new kinds of renewable and carbon-free energy. On Let’s Find Common Ground, we interview journalists Stephanie Hanes and Mark Trumbull of The Christian Science Monitor, and learn the latest on the changing landscape in the great debate over the environment and climate. Can business help politicians from both major parties bridge some of their differences? Listen to find out.
May 13, 2021
Does America Need a Third Political Party? David Jolly
Growing numbers of voters are fed up with politics as usual. In a recent survey, 62% of Americans say a third party is needed — up 5% from September of last year, and the highest it has ever been since Gallup polls first asked the question nearly twenty years ago.   Our podcast guest, former two-term Florida Congressman David Jolly, says it's time to reexamine the system that reinforces the entrenched power of both the Republican and Democratic parties. Last year, Jolly was named Executive Chairman of the Serve America Movement (SAM), a growing organization that exists in some states as a third party, and in others as a non-partisan political reform group that backs office holders who work across party lines. SAM calls itself a big tent political movement that brings people together who have different ideologies but shared political principles. In this episode, David Jolly makes the case for his movement's ambitious goal: fixing our broken politics in America.  "Multiparty democracies give greater voice to more people," David tells us. "We have allowed the two major parties to protect the duopoly themselves. The one thing that today's Democratic and Republican parties agree on is 'let's create the rules of the game in a way that we are only two major participants.'"
Apr 29, 2021
Bridging the Rural-Urban Divide— Ashley Ahearn
She lived in liberal Seattle and covered science, climate change and the environment for NPR for more than a decade. Then in 2018, journalist Ashley Ahearn made a big jump, moving with her husband to one of the most conservative counties in rural Washington State. In this episode of "Let's Find Common Ground," we hear about the profound rural-urban divide in America, and what Ashley discovered about her new neighbors and herself when she switched from the city to the country, now living on a 20-acre property with a horse and a pickup truck. We also discuss how politics and views of the land and climate differ greatly according to where people live. Recently, Ashley Ahearn launched her 8-part podcast series, "Grouse", which looks at life in rural America through the lens of the most controversial bird in the West— the greater sage-grouse. One of her great passions is storytelling, and helping scientists better communicate their research to the broader public. 
Apr 15, 2021
Should We Be Aiming for Unity And Ending Toxic Polarization? A Top Expert on Conflict Resolution Weighs In
When Joe Biden became president he wanted to bring Americans together, to forge unity. But maybe unity isn’t what we should aim for. Our guest this week says instead of focusing on that elusive goal, Americans need to concentrate on what’s damaging all of us: toxic polarization. In this episode we look at what toxic polarization is and how to end it, person by person. Peter Coleman has advised the Biden administration on how to detoxify America. He is a mediator and psychologist who specializes in conflict resolution. A professor of psychology and education at Columbia University, he is the author of the forthcoming book, The Way Out: How to Overcome Toxic Polarization.
Apr 01, 2021
Depolarizing America: Bridging Divides on Campus
With American democracy in crisis, can students save the day?  For college students it can be frightening to consider the prospects for a better tomorrow. But addressing the problems in our political system will require the next generation to be more engaged and less polarized. BridgeUSA was formed by college students to tackle the crisis head-on, with campus-based chapters at colleges around the country. This non-profit group hosts discussions and events, champions ideological diversity, teaches constructive engagement, and aims to promote a solution-oriented political culture. BridgeUSA’s chief goal is to develop a new generation of political leaders who value empathy and the common good. Guests for this episode are Manu Meel, a recent graduate of U.C. Berkeley and Chief Executive Officer of BridgeUSA, and Jessica Carpenter, a senior at Arizona State University, who runs brand management and communications at BridgeUSA.
Mar 18, 2021
Depolarizing America: Finding Common Ground in Congress. Betsy Wright Hawkings and Tamera Luzzatto
By almost any measure, Congress is much more rigidly divided along partisan lines than it was 30 years ago. Politicians run nationalized campaigns, not local ones, and frequently demonize the other side. We examine ways to find common ground among lawmakers, and those who work on Capitol Hill, with two deeply experienced Washington insiders. Betsy Wright Hawkings served as chief of staff for four Republican members of Congress over 25 years and helped build bipartisan coalitions on a range of vital issues. She is now Managing Partner of Article One Advisors, a consulting firm focused on giving organizations strategic advice on how Congress functions.  Tamera Luzzatto served as former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s chief of staff in the U.S. Senate from 2001 to 2009. Before that, she was on the staff of Democratic Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV for 15 years. Today, she is Senior Vice President of government relations at Pew Charitable Trusts.
Mar 04, 2021
The Case for Black Lives Matter: Hawk Newsome
"All lives will matter when Black lives matter," says our guest, Hawk Newsome, in this passionate, challenging, and fascinating podcast episode.  The co-founder and Chair of Black Lives Matter Greater New York answers the skeptics and makes the case for a movement that has grown in scale and significance since widespread protests erupted last summer after the killing of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis. A devout Christian who has spent much of his life campaigning for racial and social justice, Hawk Newsome, discusses his views on love vs. violence, systemic racism, and how he reached out to Trump supporters during a tense rally in Washington in 2017.  The conversation transcends the simple designations of left and right and seeks to find meaningful solutions that respond to the realities faced by people and communities. In our podcast, we mentioned this story about what Hawk does during weekends.
Feb 18, 2021
Depolarizing America: Building Consensus Step-by-Step: Rob Fersh and Kelly Johnston
Kelly Johnston and Rob Fersh disagree strongly on many issues and voted differently in the 2020 election. But they are friends and wrote recently that they "agree on major steps that must be taken for the nation to heed President-elect Biden’s welcome call for us to come together." Both believe that constructive steps must be taken to help build trust among Democrats and Republicans, despite deep polarization and a firm resistance to bipartisanship from both ends of the political spectrum. They encourage open dialogue between sectors and interest groups whose views diverge in an effort to deal with divisive political discourse. Kelly Johnston is a committed Republican and a former Secretary of the U.S. Senate. Rob Fersh founded Convergence Center for Policy Resolution, and previously worked for Democrats on the staffs of three congressional committees. Both are guests on "Let's Find Common Ground". They discuss bridge-building and why this work is so urgently needed now in an era of political gridlock. Click on bonus audio as Rob describes the process at Convergence.
Feb 04, 2021
Depolarizing America. What Can All of Us Do? Tania Israel
The vital task of finding common ground in American politics became much more difficult in the traumatic days after the violence and mayhem at the U.S. Capitol. While many Americans viewed the pro-Trump crowd as thugs, others thought of them as patriots. This podcast is the first in a new series on dealing with polarization. We speak with professor Tania Israel, author of "Beyond Your Bubble: How to Connect Across the Political Divide, Skills and Strategies for Conversations That Work." Dr. Israel is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and past-President of the Society of Counseling Psychology.   In this episode, we discuss practical, concrete steps listeners can take to have meaningful conversations that reach across deep divisions. In a time of anger, deep divisions, and even political violence, how do we begin to de-polarize America? What is our personal role in finding common ground? Are there practical steps all of us can take?  "One of the things I recommend is being curious. Try to find out more about what's behind what somebody says," Tania Israel tells us.
Jan 21, 2021
James Baker: The Art of Compromise. Peter Baker and Susan Glasser
James Baker was at the center of American political power for three decades. His resume is exceedingly impressive— Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury, and White House Chief of Staff, twice. He ran five presidential campaigns. Baker's accomplishments were far-reaching— he helped end the cold war, reunify Germany, assembled the international coalition to fight the Gulf War, and negotiated the rewriting of the U.S. tax code. Quite simply, he was "The Man Who Ran Washington," which is the name of a highly-praised new book, co-authored by our guests, New York Times chief White House correspondent, Peter Baker (no relation), and his wife, Susan Glasser, staff correspondent for The New Yorker. In this episode, we discuss how Washington has become a more angry, and anxious place. We learn about Baker's track record of successful governance, his steely pragmatism, why the art of compromise is crucial to almost any negotiation between powerful rivals, his deep friendship with the first President Bush, and Baker's opinion of Donald Trump.
Jan 07, 2021
2020 Special Moments. Our Search for Common Ground
From tragedy and disruption caused by COVID-19, to impassioned pleas for racial justice heard across the country, and the deep divisions in our politics, 2020 was a year like no other.  On "Let's Find Common Ground", we've shared a remarkable range of thoughtful, personal and surprising conversations about some of the most important topics of our time. We revisit a few of the most memorable and special moments in this year-end episode.  Among the highlights: Houston's Chief of Police Art Acevedo and New York City civil rights activist and mayoral candidate, Maya Wiley, discuss ways to find common ground on police reform. Eva Botkin-Kowacki of The Christian Science Monitor reveals how environmental activists and farmers use different language to discuss the threat of a changing climate. Republican Brian Fitzpatrick and Democrat Abigail Spanberger explain how they work together to pass laws and find solutions to controversial issues in a dysfunctional Congress. We also listen to fascinating insights from an inter-racial couple, Errol and Tina Toulon, about how they are viewed by others.
Dec 23, 2020
In This Together: Climate Change. Bill Shireman and Trammell Crow
For decades, environmental activists have cast themselves as defenders of the planet against greedy, profit-hungry corporations. At the same time, many conservatives have ridiculed the science of climate change, and warned against the economic costs of the Green New Deal and similar initiatives. In this podcast, we explore a new narrative with two environmental campaigners. Bill Shireman and Trammell Crow are authors of the book, "In This Together: How Republicans, Democrats, Capitalists and Activists Are Uniting to Tackle Climate Change and More." Bill Shireman is President of the non-profit Future 500, which brings together people of all points of view to discuss environmental reform. He teaches leadership and negotiations at UC Berkeley Haas Business School, and is a founding member of BridgeUSA.  Business leader and developer Trammell Crow is the President of the Crow Family Foundation. He is a founder of Texas Business for Clean Air and a member of the Clean Capitalist Leadership Council.  "We have our conflicts, but we are not at war with each other," says the In This Together website. "Together we will be solution focused, not divisive, as we champion freedom, justice, prosperity, and sustainability for all."
Dec 10, 2020
Same Family. Different Politics: Becca Kearl and Robbie Lawler
In a time of deep and sometimes bitter political division, what are the most effective ways to have conversations with family members who vote for a different party or don't see the world the way that you do? In this episode of "Let's Find Common Ground" podcast, we explore the challenges and opportunities faced by many families, especially as they come together during the holidays. Our guests are Becca Kearl, a Joe Biden supporter, and her mom, Robbie Lawler, who went for Donald Trump. Becca is a Managing Partner at the non-profit group, Living Room Conversations. She is a founding member of the Utah Dialogue Practice Network. Becca is also fully engaged in the non-profit venture of raising five kids with her husband in Provo, Utah. Robbie Lawler is a mother of six and was named National Mother of Young Children in 1996. She has received awards for community projects she worked on, and most recently was events coordinator for the Law School at Brigham Young University. She lives with her husband in Alpine, Utah. We share tips and ideas about how to have difficult or awkward conversations with those you love. Find more constructive suggestions here from Living Room Conversations.
Nov 25, 2020
What The Voters Told Us: Christa Case Bryant and Story Hinckley
Voters sent decidedly mixed messages in the 2020 election. This episode looks at what we can learn from then about how divided the country is — or isn’t. Voters in cities, suburbs and rural parts of the country went to the polls in record numbers. We discuss the extraordinary level of interest in the presidential campaign, and reasons why President-elect Biden won five million more votes than President Trump.  Our guests are Christa Case Bryant, a national political reporter for The Christian Science Monitor, and Story Hinckley, a National Political Correspondent in Washington on the newspaper’s national news desk in Washington. Both traveled extensively during the 2020 campaign, listening to voters and politicians in battleground states. They share their rich and moving experiences on the frontlines of the campaign, and what they learned from the many people they met along the way.
Nov 12, 2020
Election Briefing: "Why I'm Voting For...." Philippa Hughes and John Pudner
With just days to go before the 2020 election, we invited a Trump supporter and a Biden backer to join us in the same (virtual) room, and share the personal reasons behind their vote. We have a lively, spontaneous and surprisingly friendly discussion about the President's controversial personality, the final debate, and big policy and leadership differences between the two candidates.  John Pudner is voting for Donald Trump. He is Executive Director of Take Back Our Republic, a non-profit group and a member of Bridge Alliance. John spent three decades managing Republican political campaigns, and was the eldest of 9 children growing up in a 3 bedroom house in inner city Richmond, VA where he attended a conservative, Catholic high school whose alumni included Steve Bannon. Now John is the father of 9 children. Philippa P.B. Hughes is voting for Joe Biden. She produces and creates art projects, and is CEO, Chief Creative Strategist and Social Sculptor at CuriosityConnects.us, a non-profit organization that designs pop-up galleries and physical spaces that bring people together who might not normally engage in dialogue and thoughtful interaction. Philippa is the daughter of a conservative Vietnamese mother and a white father who was a lifelong union member. She also grew up in Richmond, but until our podcast conversation had never met John.
Oct 29, 2020
Seeking Common Ground in Congress: Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R)
With just days to go before a bitterly contested election, we speak with two Members of Congress, one Republican and one Democrat, who are reaching across rigid partisan divides, recognizing the value of compromise and seeking constructive change. Democrat Abigail Spanberger is the U.S. Representative for Virginia's 7th Congressional District, and is serving her first term. In 2018, she defeated a Republican incumbent to win the district, which includes most of the northern suburbs of Richmond.  Brian Fitzpatrick is a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Pennsylvania's 1st Congressional district. His district includes all of Bucks County, a mostly suburban area north of Philadelphia. Reps. Spanberger and Fitzpatrick both score highly on the new Common Ground Scorecard rankings.
Oct 22, 2020
2020 Election Briefing: U.S. Foreign Policy. Peter Ford and Howard LaFranchi
President Trump's "America First" policy has led to a U.S. withdrawal from many global institutions. For decades after World War II, American leadership in the world was taken for granted. Today, the future of American hegemony is deeply uncertain.  In this election briefing, we explore the future of foreign policy with two highly experienced journalists, Peter Ford and Howard LaFranchi. Based in Paris, Peter is global affairs correspondent for The Christian Monitor. Prior to his current job, he spent a decade as Beijing Bureau Chief. Howard has been The Monitor's diplomacy correspondent in Washington D.C. since 2001.  We discuss the U.S. pullback from the World Health Organization during the COVID-19 pandemic, America's exit from the Paris climate accord, deteriorating relations with China, and the differences between Joe Biden and Donald Trump on America's role in the world.
Oct 08, 2020
Reforming politics: Civility, Compromise and Common Ground. Amy Dacey and Pearce Godwin
More than 8 out of 10 Americans think the country is divided, and a large majority says public debate has gotten worse in recent years. A recent survey found most voters agree that significant changes are needed in the fundamental design and structure of American government to make it work for current times.  In this episode, we explore the urgent need for common ground with Amy Dacey, Executive Director of the Sine Institute of Policy & Politics at American University, and Pearce Godwin, CEO of Listen First Project, and a leading member of Weaving Community.  During the 2016 presidential election, Amy served as the Chief Executive Officer of the Democratic National Committee. She has managed national organizations and advised leading elected officials and candidates, including President Barack Obama and Senator John Kerry. Pearce is from a conservative political background, and formerly worked as an aide in the House and Senate and for Republican Party campaigns. We speak with both of them about the new Common Ground Scorecard, which rates candidates and elected officials on their ability to reach out beyond their base and engage with voters and other elected officials who come from another party or viewpoint.
Sep 24, 2020
Election Briefing: Can We Hold a Fair Election?: David Hawkins and Tristiaña Hinton
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.
Sep 10, 2020
2020 Election Briefing: Climate Change. Eoin O’Carroll & Eva Botkin-Kowacki
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.
Aug 27, 2020
Jordan Blashek, Chris Haugh. Two Friends: One Democrat, the Other Republican Search for Common Ground
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.”
Aug 13, 2020
Caroline Randall Williams: "My Body is a Confederate Monument."
"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. 
Jul 30, 2020
Errol and Tina Toulon: Lessons From an Interracial Couple.
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.
Jul 16, 2020
Art Acevedo and Maya Wiley. Reforming The Police.
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.
Jul 02, 2020
Professor Ilyasa Shabazz, Dr. Brian Williams: What Racism Means to Me
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.
Jun 18, 2020
Daryl Davis: KKKrossing the divide: A Black man talks with white supremacists
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."
Jun 04, 2020
Admiral James Stavridis: Pulling Out of the Pandemic. Creative Strategies
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.
May 21, 2020
Paul Light. Shared National Sacrifice: Are We Ready?
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.
May 07, 2020
Wesley Clark. The Leadership We Need at a Time of Crisis.
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. 
May 07, 2020
Jared Bernstein & Maya MacGuineas. Saving Lives and the Economy
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. 
May 07, 2020
Introducing 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.
Apr 30, 2020