tug of war

Why Is America So Politically Polarized?

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It’s widely acknowledged that our nation is bitterly divided — by party, by issues, by approach, and by willingness to communicate effectively with people who hold differing opinions.

What’s less agreed-upon is why this is the case, and what it’s going to take to get back on track.

We sat down with one of our founders, Erik Olsen, for his thoughts, based upon his perspective as a political thought leader and economist.

Q: When did you start feeling this polarization really taking hold?

EO: In 2009, my cofounder Bruce Bond and I came up with concept for Common Ground Committee because we were noticing that the tone of public discourse was becoming more vitriolic and offensive. I’ve been a fan of Jonathan Haidt’s book THE RIGHTEOUS MIND, and one of the things he recognizes is that people have become more tribal — they look at people close to them and say, If you don’t share my belief system then there’s something wrong with you. People have become less reflective and self-examining.

Q: Why do you think this happened?

EO: It’s hard to say. We’ve evolved with the internet in the last 20-15 years, and you can’t deny the way it’s encouraged this kind of behavior for a variety of reasons. In part it’s because there’s relative anonymity in saying things you’d never say to someone’s face; the internet makes it easy to engage that way. It has contributed to our becoming more polarized in part because it made it easier to argue anonymously.

I got on Facebook in 2007 really as a mechanism for getting in touch with friends all around the country, and I renewed a lot of friendships from my high school and college days. What was very curious is that as the years went by, I noticed people were becoming more and more political, and I was kind of astonished at the ferocity of their political beliefs. I too have strong views, but they could be characterized as free market views. Working at Common Ground Committee has made me be more thoughtful about my own biases, and say, Ok, I can have more confidence in views backed up by my own research and study, but I have to recognize where I don’t have an omniscient knowledge base. Yet I see people talk in strident terms about things they don’t have any particular authority in, with strong views devolving into a kind of derision, or anger, or vituperativeness. You might have a valid opinion, but the way you’re representing your point doesn’t support your argument. Instead, it relies on screeds. You’re not convincing anyone when you’re talking trash.

Q: How would you suggest the internet could be used for more productive discussions?

EO: Conceptually, the internet is stunning, in terms of its usefulness. We’ve all become rather jaded with it, but I think back to high school and what I could have done with the internet for access to research and learning. We look at the internet now and we curse it because it’s feeding back to us the kind of things we want to hear. I just find it interesting that we’re not more intelligent about the way we use it — a caustic environment instead of a learning tool. One of the things I find interesting is that you can start going so far down into practically doctorate-level research based on a tweet. Someone says, This is the way the world is, and I say, That’s not the way the world is, the world is this way, and then they provide their evidence, and I provide my evidence. I like to look at their evidence, and I to see if their side has validity or not. But I don’t know that other people follow through that way.

Q: To what extent do you think it’s due to our current political leadership?

EO: In the last four years in particular many people have focused on Donald Trump as a source of polarization. But I strongly believe he isn’t a source of polarization — he’s a symptom. To a certain extent, he’s speaking for people who feel they’ve lost their voice because of the way media has evolved on cable — that is becoming I think becoming even more biased as time goes on, with news organizations becoming more focused on particular opinions. And I think Donald Trump gives voice to people who think their voice is missing from the public stage. They, for their own reasons, get a thrill out of the way he seems to tweak the establishment’s nose. None of that is contributing to a useful or meaningful dialogue. Its’ not about finding the truth, it’s about what zinger can you come up with to fight with people. It doesn’t make for good governance and doesn’t make for good discourse.


Ranked Choice Voting Explained


What is ranked choice voting?

What if instead of casting your ballot for one candidate, you could vote for not just your first choice — but also indicate your second choice, third choice, and so on?

In some states, it’s already happening. Earlier this year, four states — Wyoming, Alaska, Kansas, and Hawaii — used ranked-choice voting (RCV) to reduce the field in the presidential primaries. In Utah, both the Democratic and Republican parties used it for this year’s virtual conventions. And this November, Maine will become the first state to use RCV in the general presidential election.

The process works like this.

  • The candidate with the majority of first-choice votes wins outright, as long as the support constitutes more than 50 percent of voters.
  • If no single candidate gets 50 percent, then a new counting process kicks off. The last-place candidate is eliminated, and that candidate’s voters have their second-choice pick activated.
  • This process continues until there is a candidate who has a 50 percent majority.
  • By comparison, the current system elects a winner by the plurality system: the candidate with the highest number of votes wins, period. It doesn’t matter whether the candidate earned the majority (more than 50 percent) of the vote.

What’s the appeal of RCV?

Its supporters stress that the ability to rank choices allows Democrats, Republicans, and Independents to compete on a level playing field. A third-party candidate might not have enough votes to win a plurality, but its supporters’ second-choice vote would have a voice. In this way, voters feel free to choose the candidates they like best as their first-choice pick, without worrying that their vote will somehow help the candidate they like least. A voter can rank in first place a third-party candidate who has little chance of winning, and select the major-party candidate they can tolerate most for their second-place vote. In this way, RCV allows people to vote for third-party candidates without “throwing away their vote.”

Ranked choice voting allows political parties to produce nominees with broad support, even in a crowded field of candidates. In the current system, a large field of contenders threatens to produce a nominee with strong support from a small group, but without broad support from the voters. Currently, candidates with similar platforms or experiences can split supporters, dividing the votes and potentially helping a more polarizing candidate with a less popular platform to surge ahead. To keep this from happening, candidates seen as longshots are pressured to drop out — and their diversity of opinion is lost, giving voters less choice.

RCV advocates say the system motivates candidates to work together rather than attack one another, because candidates risk losing valuable second- and third-place votes by alienating one another’s strongest supporters. And forcing candidates to try to appeal to a broader cross-section of the public makes it much more likely that the winner will be open to moderation, compromise, and building nonpartisan coalitions.

Opponents of RCV exist on both sides of the aisle. Many say it complicates elections for voters, requiring them to be better-educated about (and possibly overwhelmed by) a wider range of candidates, and that it takes more time and money to tabulate multiple rounds of results. There’s also some concern that RCV can be misused to “game the system.” Since candidates often win by being the second choice of those who support less-popular third-party candidates, there’s a baked-in incentive for the major parties to look for third-party candidates on whose coattails they can gain second-place votes.

The jury is still out on whether RCV increases or decreases turnout at the polls. For the time being, it’s being increasingly discussed in states and municipalities — so information and data about it will also be on the rise.

To learn more about voting, and the importance of having a voting plan, see our action plan guide.

WATCH: Introducing Our Common Ground Scorecard

Want more progress and less division in politics? Our new Common Ground Scorecard can help inform your vote.

We all need our government to work effectively – but it won’t unless we elect those with the capacity to reach across the aisle. That’s why we created the Common Ground Scorecard, a free mobile-friendly tool that helps voters of all parties evaluate how well your elected officials are doing at listening, leading productive conversations and finding bipartisan points of agreement.

VIDEO: View our short tutorial on how to use the Common Ground Scorecard.

Give the scorecard a try, and see how it can help inform your vote for candidates who will work for more progress, and less division.

Why America needs you to vote for candidates who cooperate, not partisans who fight

In this Opinion Editorial piece for USA Today, Common Ground Committee Co-Founders Bruce Bond and Erik Olsen make a case for why it’s so important for voters to identify and support candidates in the 2020 election who seek common ground on political issues. 

Voters need a new mindset that makes willingness to find common ground a “must have” quality for any candidate.

The “new normal” that defined 2020 has made its presence known this election season. The upcoming presidential debates will not have in-person audiences. Door-to-door campaigning has mostly vanished. One thing that hasn’t changed in this climate is the rabid partisanship that has been synonymous with our politics for more than a decade.

Elections are known for partisan bickering, and that has been on full display. But the issue goes much deeper. Negotiations over a second stimulus remain stalled and action now seems unlikely until after the election. After the killing of George Floyd, Republican Sen. Tim Scott’s police reform bill couldn’t get past even a procedural vote to begin debate. And most disturbing of all, partisan rhetoric has devolved into violence in cities like Portland, Ore., and Kenosha, Wisc.

To be sure, there are hints of cooperation on the federal level. Congressional leaders are attempting to revive negotiations following the shooting of Jacob Blake, as the nation cries out for action. A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced the 2020 Health Statistics Act, which would improve our government’s efforts to fight the pandemic.

But when our disagreements turn into violence and critical legislation is stalled, we can’t afford piecemeal progress. Voters need a new mindset that makes willingness to find common ground a “must have” quality for any candidate.

Politics has always had some degree of hostility, but it has not always been such a lightning rod. In 1960, just 4% of Democrats and 4% of Republicans said they would be disappointed if their child married someone from the opposite party, according to the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research. By 2018, that number jumped to 45% and 35%, respectively per Public Religion Research Institute.

Voters’ attitudes have shifted

This thinking has also seeped into our voting habits. After the 2018 midterms, Pew Research found that voters from both parties cited opposition to the other party as a reason for their vote, more so than support of that particular candidate. Just 10 years earlier, Pew found that votes for Barack Obama and John McCain were made primarily in support of those candidates.

It would be easy to solely blame our leaders for this shift. After all, the behavior we witness on a near daily basis on our screens or in our papers feeds into the idea that the other side is an enemy to be defeated rather than a potential partner. But politicians reflect the behavior they think voters want to see. It’s become clear that many see demonization as a required step along the path to victory.

To paraphrase Rep. Barney Frank, who spoke last year at an event hosted by our organization, Common Ground Committee, we are not calling for Americans to vote for candidates they don’t believe in. But we’ve reached a point where we need to strongly consider those who have demonstrated a commitment to working across the aisle — because what we’re doing now is not working.

Politicians who are not interested in hearing what the other side has to say are not interested in making progress, they are simply interested in getting their way.

If we had told you this time last year that most of our workforce was remote, or that the majority of Americans have rallied behind significant police reforms, you may not have believed us. A shift in thinking is never easy, but if there was ever a time, it’s this moment.

Consider actions, not just words

When you go to the polls in November or send in your mail-in ballot, don’t immediately flock to the candidate you think will best dominate the other side. Consider the individual who best represents your ideals but also knows that collaboration is essential in getting things done. Consider their concrete actions rather than just their words.

Find open-minded politicians with the Common Ground Scorecard

This new mindset will require a new set of tools to cut through the noise. That’s why we introduced the Common Ground Scorecard, a tool that measures the degree to which officeholders and candidates for elected office embody the spirit and practice of what we call Common Grounders — people who seek solutions through listening and productive conversation.

The same way voters would research where a candidate for public office stands on issues like climate change, the Scorecard provides a venue to see where they stand on common ground.

Along with the Scorecard, we urge voters to use other voting tools available to help them make informed decisions. Examples include Vote Smart, the Bipartisan Index from the Lugar Center and Ballotpedia.

The historic challenges our nation faces won’t be solved by partisan shots in the coming weeks and months. And they won’t be solved by treating this election like any other.

It is long past time to head to the polls with a new mindset that prioritizes solutions and ideas over demonization and tribalism. With new tools and thinking, we can begin to move the incentive needle away from demonizing the opposition and toward working together to make progress on the tough issues our nation faces.

Bruce Bond and Erik Olsen are co-founders of Common Ground Committee, a citizen-led initiative focused on demonstrating productive public discourse.

– This article was published in USA Today on September 17th, 2020.

Democracy Reform Group Spotlight: The Bridge Alliance

There has been a proliferation of groups dedicated to political reform today — and the organizational efforts to link them collaboratively.

The Bridge Alliance is one such umbrella organization that collects the energy and ideas and helps focus them into concerted efforts.

As part of a series on key players involved in reform, Common Ground Committee is hosting a series of Q&A sessions beginning with Jeremy Garson, Chief of Staff with The Bridge Alliance.

Common Ground Committee: How would you define the democracy reform movement?

Jeremy Garson, The Bridge Alliance: It started with people who believed the country as it stands is not a healthy democratic republic, and coming together to ask, What do we do to make it one? We might have different ideas of what the country should be, but we need to work together to accomplish our goals. We’ll accomplish more as a collaborative whole than as individuals doing what they want to do. From there, it evolved in so many different factions, so to encapsulate it in one definition is impossible. Really, anyone who’s trying to resolve that question and move in that direction — thousands of organizations and people —comprise the movement. In general, if you think you’re part of the movement, you’re likely part of the movement.

Jeremy Garson, Chief of Staff with The Bridge Alliance

CGC: What’s the Bridge Alliance’s role?

JG: We consider ourselves to be an umbrella group for about 100 organizations working together. We try to take a 10,000-foot view from above; we see ourselves bringing together organizations who have a track record of success, or some degree of good-faith nonpartisanship, and most importantly, have a history of showing a willingness to collaborate. From there, we’re very inclusive. It’s nonpartisan in the sense that anyone with a range of leanings can be part of it, though of course a lot of the players have a clear ideological lean.

CGC: Tell us about what the Bridge Alliance does. In what ways do you pull together the factions?

JG: We have what we call “three buckets” our members fit into, which are three categories of focus work within the democracy reform movement. They are civic engagement; campaigns and the election process (making the vote more secure); and governance and policymaking, which means providing support to help elected officials do their job. What probably separates us from most organizations is that we’re not trying to propose specific solutions. We’re trying to create a marketplace of ideas, and show the American public, “Here are the options available to you, pick and choose what angle you care to get engaged in.” We’d like to help them understand the ways they can get involved, to understand reform opportunities out there, and what groups to connect with if they have certain ideas about ways the country should go. For example, if campaign finance is your thing, we have a group for you. And we get the word out about what our member-groups are doing. Getting all these balls rolling will eventually lead to healthier self-governance.

CGC: Can you give us an example of something you’ve spearheaded as a group?

JG: The Bridge Alliance Education Fund hosted a summit last October focused on bringing diversity into the reform movement — diversity by ideology, race and ethnicity, age and faith, and geography, and gathered all these people together with our member organizations in the D.C. metropolitan area. It involved a lot of honest networking with no cameras and no media, so everyone would feel free to engage without prying eyes. It wasn’t about inviting people to join the Bridge Alliance per se, but inviting them to engage with our members to make sure we were expanding these networks as large as possible through informal partnerships.

CGC:  Are there any core beliefs or efforts that the Bridge Alliance shares as a whole?

JG: This isn’t going to sound like much, but we believe every eligible American should be able to vote, safely and securely. This plays to both progressive and conservative viewpoints, people concerned with issues of access and legitimacy. We present the arguments for mail-in voting because we have members who are dedicated to that as a good answer to the pandemic. And we have members focusing on ballot security as well.

I’m very proud of that diversity of opinion. Every single one of us has something that we’re wrong about, and you have to have a bunch of brilliant minds in the room to find solutions that work best.

Stay tuned for the next session in our series. Want to hear more on this and other important topics? Check out our newly launched Podcast “Let’s Find Common Ground” featuring top leaders.

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What is the Democracy Reform Movement?

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Many Americans feel that our political process has become more than dangerously polarized — that democracy as we know it is in fact broken, and requires concerted efforts to fix it.

But what constitutes “fixing?” Opinions and prescriptives are as varied as the people who vote at the polls. But there are some cornerstones of democracy that are held in high esteem. And in today’s culture of incivility, are the ones most agreed upon to need reform.

  • Threats to the freedom to vote
  • Excessive money spent in pursuit of elected offices
  • The influence of outside parties and special interests
  • Lack of representation of our diverse electorate
  • Incivility in political discourse

Common Ground Committee examines these in a multi-part blog post series.

Today, there are hundreds of organizations working to foster a more functional, representative, and accountable government. They focus on a variety of strategies. Some stress the importance of changing electoral rules, or smoothing the path for more diverse candidates; some focus on supporting nonpartisan candidates who have a track record of reaching across the aisle to accomplish change.  Others like Common Ground Committee strive for bringing leaders and citizens together to find commonality, civility and make progress.

An important step in the right direction was the passage of H.R. 1 a year ago. This historic democracy reform legislation, also known as the For the People Act, kicked off a surge of reform motivation at the local, state, federal, and presidential levels.

What is H.R.1?

H.R. 1 has three pillars of reform, each with policy solutions aimed to strengthen democracy and more fairly represent all people and communities in the U.S.

  1. Protect and expand the right to vote. Some of the strategies include creating automatic voter registration nationwide, instituting same-day registration, expanding early voting, prohibiting inappropriate purges of voter rolls, and committing to restore the Voting Rights Act. Particularly notable recommendations: establishing independent redistricting commissions to ending partisan gerrymandering, and focusing on blocking infiltration of outside parties and influences trying to undermine legitimate election results.
  2. Shrink the corrupting influence of special interests that dominate the federal policymaking process. Among the solutions: restructuring the Federal Election Commission, so that the agency can robustly enforce election laws. Especially significant: a new federal matching system for small donations. This will give the American people a stronger voice in politics while making it easier for a diverse range of candidates and candidates without wealthy donor networks to run for public office.
  3. Restoring ethics and accountability for government officials by breaking the influence economy in Washington. Solutions: expanding conflict of interest laws, requiring top elected and appointed officials to take commonsense steps to divest from their financial holdings, slowing the revolving door between government and the private sector, and mandating presidents to disclose their tax returns. Especially noteworthy reforms include overhauling the U.S. Office of Government Ethics and ensuring that government watchdogs finally have the resources they need to actively enforce the law.

The proclamations of support for these reforms represent significant mile markers on the road to creating a political system that works for everyday Americans instead of only for corporations and special interests. And represent a critical first step in restoring public trust in the U.S. federal political process.

Check back for our upcoming post where we interview Jeremy Garson of the Bridge Alliance Movement.

Learn more about Common Ground Committee – our bi-weekly podcast and past events.

Dreading Election Season? Get 5 Tips for Better Political Conversations

Our series of monthly actions invite Common Grounders to bring light, not heat, to the work of leading progress on America’s most pressing issues. This month: as tensions rise during election season, prepare yourself with tools for leading better political conversations.

August 2020 Action: Find More Common Ground in Your Political Conversations

With the countdown to the general election now underway, political divisions can be more fraught than ever – particularly at home, where the emotional stakes are high. This month, prepare yourself to lead better conversations with family and friends who may hold opposing political views.

5 tips for better political talks

Turns out, (nearly) everything we need to know about successful political conversations we learned in Kindergarten: take turns, be curious, and be respectful.

Looking to go a bit further? These five simple tips from Common Ground Committee co-founder Bruce Bond, Living Room Conversations co-founder Joan Blades and Bridges USA co-founder Manu Meel will set you up for more successful conversations with loved ones on some of today’s most divisive issues.

  1. Examine your motives. Before engaging in conversation on a politically charged topic, be honest with yourself about what you hope to achieve. Is your goal to change the other person’s mind, or to understand them better so you can begin to bridge divides? (The latter, as you might guess, has a much greater chance of success.)
  2. Don’t go in cold. The first step in any successful conversation is relating to the other person as a human being. Before delving into a politically sensitive topic, look for a way to break the ice and reinforce your personal connection.
  3. Listen to understand, and show it. When it comes to political conversations, are you simply listening for points you can successfully argue? Or to truly understand the other person’s motivations and perspective? To have a productive discussion, you must first understand the personal reasons someone holds a certain view; then show you’ve really heard their contribution to the conversation. That can open the door to an “a-ha moment.”
  4. Look for shared values. Conflict resolution experts who utilize interest-based bargaining offer a good lesson on navigating high-stakes issues. Rather than delving into where each of you stand on specific policy positions – for instance, immigration reform – go deeper. Try to identify shared values, such as your support of an inclusive society or the pursuit of the American dream. From there, it can be easier to find areas of common ground.
  5. Know when to redirect. The ability to use and accept facts is a prerequisite for productive conversation. So, if your trusted experts are different and there are no shared facts, it may not be possible to have healthy discussion with someone on a divisive political issue. Accept that we all must live with and love people with different viewpoints, and that de-escalating a heated situation may be the most constructive action you can take.

In a polarized political atmosphere and heated election season, we can each play a role in bringing light, not heat, to the nation’s civil discourse. Get more insight on how you can heal the divide (and talk politics) by watching our full webinar with Living Room Conversations and Bridge USA, and by downloading our Common Grounder guide.


How to Vote in the US (Step by Step)

Your Voter Resource Guide

At Common Ground Committee, our goal is to bring individuals together from all sides to bring light, not heat, to public discourse.  We also believe that voting is every citizen’s right, responsibility and a privilege.  This year, understanding how to vote is more complicated as the country meets the challenges of the pandemic.  

We are here to help you through the voting process — from registering and finding your voting location (or learning how to vote remotely) to learning about the issues and the candidates. 

Get started now with the few easy steps below!

5  Easy Steps to Vote 

Each one of these steps are critical to make your opinion, voice, and vote count on election day.

Step #1: REGISTER to vote

Whatever your political preference, your right to vote gives you the chance to be heard and impact the direction of our country. According to data from the U.S. Elections Project in 2016, 43 percent of voters did not fill out their ballots. Why? Many Americans don’t know enough about the voting process, how to register, or are unaware of registration deadlines. Rock the Vote provides an easy link to get started on your registration in moments. Vote411 from the League of Women Voters Education Fund can also help you check your registration status, get registered, and find information about the issues.

Step #2: Know WHERE to vote

If you aren’t requesting an absentee ballot, make sure you know where you can vote — and have a plan to get there. Of the 29 percent of older adults who did not vote in 2016 (approximately 2,262,000 voters), about half were held back by poor access to transit. Ride share programs and volunteer transportation assistance are available across the country to help seniors and others with mobility challenges get to the polls.

Step #3: Know WHERE candidates stand

Before you cast your vote, make sure you’re informed about the candidates and their stances on today’s issues. Tools like BallotReady and VoteSmart help sort the information on thousands of politicians and the thousands of issues at stake. Common Ground Committee also has a unique tool, the Common Ground Scorecard, to rate politicians on how well they reach across the aisle to find common ground.

Step #4: Have the IDENTIFICATION you need

Some states require proof of identification to vote. Make sure you have the correct personal identification needed in your state (if any) to cast your ballot. 

Step #5: VOTE!

Whether it’s your first time voting or you’ve exercised your right many times, making a priority to get there is the most important step of all. You have a voice and the privilege, so stand up for what you believe. Races can be closer than you’d imagine — so just do it!

Resources for Informed Voting

A sign of a healthy democracy at work is an active network of advocates providing the tools for an educated population. Here are some of ours here in the U.S.

Tool #1: Ballotpedia

Ballotpedia is a non-profit organization focused on educating the public on current political issues, elections, current candidates, and more. Whether you are considering running for office, contemplating your voting options, or looking for the latest news from an unbiased source, Ballotpedia is a tool committed to clarity and neutrality.

Website: https://ballotpedia.org
Instagram: @ballotpedia
Facebook: @Ballotpedia
Twitter: @ballotpedia

Tool #2: VoteSmart

Looking for information on the latest candidates and elected officials? Votesmart has profiles, voting records, contact information, issue positions, public statements, and more. One of its key features is the “Political Courage Test,” which offers a unique kind of transparency: insight into how likely candidates are to give straightforward answers to voters’ questions.

Website: https://justfacts.votesmart.org/
Facebook: @ProjectVoteSmart
Twitter: @VoteSmart

Tool #3: Vote411

Vote411 is known as a one-stop-shop for information you need for the election process: the ability to check your registration status, to register, find upcoming events, discover (and decipher) questions on your ballot, simplify steps for first-time voters, and more. An interactive state-by-state map is a hallmark of the site.

Website: https://www.vote411.org/
Instagram: @vote411
Facebook: @vote411
Twitter: @VOTE411

Tool #4: When We All Vote

It’s critical it is for all citizens to participate in the political process; that’s the belief that drove the formation of When We All Vote. This nonpartisan non-profit organization was founded in 2018 by Michelle Obama, Tom Hanks, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Janelle Monae, Chris Paul, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw. Their ideology? That the country is in a better place and can move forward successfully when, you guessed it — we all vote.

Website: https://www.whenweallvote.org/
Instagram: @whenweallvote
Facebook: @WhenWeAllVote
Twitter: @WhenWeAllVote

Tool #5: Common Ground Scorecard 

Let us be one of your trusted resources! The Common Ground Scorecard is your free, online guide for identifying candidates who seek common ground to make progress on the issues. Interactive features (such as a map) help you identify your elected officials (so you don’t have to look them up) making it easy to use. You can even compare up to six candidates.

Website: https://www.commongroundscorecard.org/
Instagram: @commongroundcommittee
Facebook: @commongroundcommittee
Twitter: @commongroundcom

Check back here for future updates on voting. Also check out our recent Op Ed on mail-in voting, and sign up for our newsletter for more resources to help you vote! 

WATCH: Behind the Scenes of the New Music Video “Come Together”

Can we find the inspiration to move past our country’s division? In this virtual discussion, former Christian Science Monitor politics editor Gail Russell Chaddock talks with Common Ground Committee co-founder Bruce Bond and musicians Adam Gussow and Rod Patterson about how a musical collaboration is inviting listeners to think differently and find hope for the future.

Learn more about the making of “Come Together,” a music video produced by Common Ground Committee and Sir Rod & The Blues Doctors that issues a rousing call to open our ears and our hearts – whether we wear red, or we wear blue.

Read the backstory: How a journey started in 1986 by a Black blues musician and a white Ivy League graduate continues to bridge divides.

Watch now to find out what inspired the music, enjoy a not-to-be-missed impromptu jam session, and see how we can each play a role in healing conflict, upholding the ideal of respect, discovering shared purpose and finding common ground.