Community Takeaway: Arielle Rosenberg

Student Arielle Rosenberg attended our Finding Common Ground on the New Cold War forum on November 19, 2019, at George Mason University to hear General David Petraeus and Ambassador Susan Rice discuss foreign policy at a time of rising international tension.

Arielle said events like this give her hope that not only can politicians come together, but so can students – even in the face of all the polarization we encounter today.

 Arielle Rosenberg on what she took away from our Finding Common Ground on the New Cold War event:

 

 

Community Takeaway: Molly Reed

Student Molly Reed attended our Finding Common Ground on the New Cold War forum on November 19, 2019, at George Mason University to hear General David Petraeus and Ambassador Susan Rice discuss foreign policy at a time of rising international tension.

Molly says events like these make her hopeful and optimistic that, one day, politicians can sit down and have a productive conversation like this. Get her take.

 Molly Reed on what she took away from our Finding Common Ground on the New Cold War event:

 

 

Community Takeaway: Marisol Maddox

Student Marisol Maddox attended our Finding Common Ground on the New Cold War forum on November 19, 2019, at George Mason University to hear General David Petraeus and Ambassador Susan Rice discuss foreign policy at a time of rising international tension.

Marisol gained more faith from our event that even with the current impeachment hearings and trials, conversations between parties can be had – and common ground can be found.

 Marisol Maddox on what she took away from our Finding Common Ground on the New Cold War event:

 

 

Common Ground Committee featured on the TODAY Show & MSNBC Live

NBC anchor Craig Melvin shines a spotlight on Common Ground Committee, after moderating forum with Petraeus & Rice

Common Ground Committee had the pleasure of working with NBC news correspondent Craig Melvin, co-host of Today Third Hour and host of Craig Melvin Live on MSNBC, at our November 19th forum on Finding Common Ground on the New Cold WarMelvin, who served as moderator for the forum featuring General David E. Petraeus (US Army, Retired) and former Ambassador Susan Rice, talked with Al Roker, Dylan Dyer and Sheinelle Jones about his positive impressions during Today Third Hour on November 25th:

Melvin also interviewed CGC co-founders Bruce Bond and Erik Olsen on MSNBC Live about how Common Ground Committee works as a citizen-led initiative to inspire people to find common ground in a political world that has become polarized:

Community Takeaway: Salih Hudayar

Student Salih Hudayar attended our Finding Common Ground on the New Cold War forum on November 19, 2019, at George Mason University to hear General David Petraeus and Ambassador Susan Rice discuss foreign policy at a time of rising international tension.

Salih says events like these are key in showing interested citizens how to navigate the one main issue we must address in order to move forward productively. Get his take.

 Salih Hudayar on what he took away from our Finding Common Ground on the New Cold War event:

Common ground in politics is possible. It just needs coverage.

Bruce Bond and Erik Olsen co-founders of Common Ground Committee seek to promote productive public discourse in this op-ed discussing the big picture of politics and civility in our events. 

Turn on any cable news channel and you’ll likely hear talk about the divisiveness of our politics, and there are numbers to back that up. Only 38 percent of Americans say the United States is heading in the right direction, and an annual poll tracking discourse shows 93 percent say America has a civility problem. As discouraging as these numbers seem, the tide may be turning.

A recent poll from Georgetown University found that 85 percent of voters want finding common ground to be a main goal of politicians. A survey from Hidden Tribes of America found that 77 percent of Americans believe that the differences between us are not so big that they cannot be bridged.

As the co-founders of Common Ground Committee, we’ve repeatedly seen this shift first-hand. Whether it’s at one of our forums with political leaders or in conversations with family, friends and colleagues, we’ve found that people actually agree on more than they realize. They just have to engage in the conversation. What’s more, people will often share experiences of seeking and finding common ground with those who hold different political beliefs.

Unfortunately, we rarely get the chance to witness agreement between political leaders from different parties. The media portrays politicians as constant adversaries rather than collaborators. This representation has consequences: Research suggests that negative feelings toward the opposite party’s leadership are much stronger than those directed at individuals.

That’s why it’s important to show the country that leaders from the two parties can agree — and not just on “little stuff.” When that happens, you can instantly see people light up. When we held a public forum earlier this year at the University of Notre Dame, the campus was abuzz after seeing former Secretaries of State John Kerry and Condoleezza Rice find consensus on a wide range of issues. Students walked in prepared to see them search for grains of agreement, but instead saw consistent agreement on issues including North Korea, climate change and Middle East policy. Following the event, students told us they would have assumed the Democrat Kerry and the Republican Rice were from the same political party if they hadn’t known better.

At a striking point in the forum, Rice provided an in-depth explanation of her views on immigration policy. Kerry had a two-word response: “I agree.”

Mainstream media rarely represents this aspect of our political leaders’ lives: the vast areas of agreement, compromise, and collaboration that go into productive governing.

We recognize that healthy debate is necessary for democracy; Kerry and Rice certainly didn’t agree on everything. Their perspectives differed sharply when the conversation turned to what to do about voter suppression. Still, the respect and rapport they had established earlier remained firmly intact and they kept their disagreement focused on the issues, not each other.

There’s very little of this type of collegiality found in discussions that focus on rapid-fire debates, and this colors the way citizens view politics.

The more we see political leaders engaging civilly and empathetically with ideologies different from their own, the more the American people will be inspired to do the same. Earlier this year, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, In., participated in a town hall on Fox News, even though the Democratic presidential candidate knew he was communicating his policy stances not to a partisan base, but to an audience of over 2.5 million assumed to be completely antithetical to his approach. Former Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona started a series for CBS highlighting areas of political unity for Democrats and Republicans. What this signals: Viewers from both sides of the aisle want to see more than polarization from their news sources.

When we get lost in the rhetoric of polarization, we forget that we’re all on the same team. We’re all Americans. While we have different ideologies and beliefs that should not be compromised, there is more that brings us together than drives us apart. The more those points of common ground are found by leaders — and highlighted in the media — the better chance we have to heal the anger and polarization that weaken our nation.

— This article was published in The Fulcrum on October 24, 2019

CGC’s Message Finds a Growing Audience

Common Ground Committee continues to gain momentum. This past year, CGC successfully increased awareness of our mission to spread light, not heat, in the search for common ground in a polarized world. Our efforts to extend our audience have resulted in:

  • Common Ground’s byline in The Hill in August 2019 reached around 11.8 million viewers
  • Common Ground has had 10 pieces placed in major news outlets with an audience of potentially 52,800,679
  • We have seen great growth in our social media with a 738.71% increase in Facebook followers in the past year
  • As of September 2019, Common Ground Committee is leading the way as one of the top liked and followed groups within the nonprofit civic engagement world

We are committed to continuing to deliver the most responsible, non-partisan views across our social media platforms as we move forward. We hope you will join us in working towards achieving common ground.

Trump administration is in a unique position to make real change on gun control policy

This month co-founders, Bruce Bond and  Erik Olsen, shared their thoughts in this poignant piece about gun control.

Bruce and Erik identified that the Trump administration is in a unique position to implement measures to reduce the prevalence of mass shootings and that preventing this type of tragedy is somewhere the nation can find common ground.

As we continue to struggle with the events in El Paso and Dayton, we all must face the fact that the problem of mass shootings in America has been in the headlines for over 30 years, through numerous administrations, with virtually no progress made. In fact, the situation has never been worse.

That shouldn’t be. Virtually all Americans, regardless of demographic characteristics, political views, positions on gun ownership and regulation, political party or political office want to see this escalating violence come to an end.

In our work to “bring light not heat to public discourse” and to demonstrate that people can come together in passionate but respectful debate to find common ground on issues that matter, we see clearly that the lack of progress on this issue is caused by its complexity and the fact that the divisive issue of guns is at the heart of the debate.

The Trump administration is in a unique position to make tangible and significant progress on this problem and move us down the path to eliminating mass shootings. We believe this because:

  • Law-abiding gun owners often do not trust that their government will allow them to keep their weapons — but the support of the Trump administration among gun owners is strong. Gun owners recognize this administration as someone looking out for their interests.
  • The Trump administration demonstrated work to reduce mass shootings when President Trump issued an executive order in December 2018 effectively banning bump stocks.

We believe this administration is in much the same position as President Richard Nixon, a staunch anti-communist, was when presented with the opportunity to open relations with Communist China. That apparent conflict was key to his success, ultimately cooling tensions between the two countries and getting American businesses to access the China market. As the Nixon administration did, we urge our current leaders to seize the opportunity.

But the 30 years of no progress mandate that a new approach is needed. Specifically:

  • The conversation cannot be a referendum on guns and the 2nd Amendment because gun owners and their representatives will not engage.
  • It must acknowledge the complexity of the problem. Researchers and law enforcement are working to determine why individuals become shooters, but there is as yet no consensus. And there are different types of mass shootings. Gang-related killings are not the same as what happened in El Paso and Dayton.
  • It needs to include these four basic principles:
  1. Hear from all sides of the issue, including mass shooting victims and those dedicated to saving lives through strict gun control as well as gun owners who are concerned that their Constitutional right to ownership will be effectively eliminated. Seek to understand and account for the different perspectives, particularly of these two groups.
  2. When forming solutions, set ideology aside in favor of facts presented by credible experts.
  3. Outside of assailants, do not assign blame. Instead, seek to identify what individuals, organizations, companies, etc. can do to address the parts of the problem they contribute to. (Note to the media: We believe that assigning blame without reporting on potential solutions or points of progress serves to further divide the nation, making it more difficult to achieve the goal, which is to save innocent lives).
  4. Focus on what is possible and what can be done now. Find the 10-20 percent of the issue the different sides can agree on and take action accordingly. Build on that momentum moving forward.

There are probably a few mechanisms that could work, and we hope our elected officials choose one and get it going. When the findings and recommendations are delivered, we encourage the Trump administration to be the leading and loudest voice convincing citizens and elected officials to embrace the results and support them in speech and action.

We believe this administration has a substantially better opportunity than previous presidents. We implore them to seize it and set us on the path to the elimination of this horrific problem. They will be saving the lives of those who, through no fault of their own, may otherwise be included on the list of mass shooting victims.

— This article was published in The Hill on August 21, 2019

 

Community Takeaway : Roy Mathew

Finding Common Ground is more than just people on stage, it is about the lasting takeaways the communities and audiences have after each event.

Roy Mathew on what he took away from our Frank Conversation event:

 

A Frank Interview with Chris Shays and Barney Frank on Finding Common Ground

Below are some of our interviews with Barney Frank and Chris Shays from after our Frank Conversation event on July 9th, 2019 where they shared their thoughts and feelings about Common Ground Committee and the process of Finding Common Ground.

Frank: There’s one thing we can all do to reduce excessive polarization

Shays: Finding common ground is key to restoring faith in democracy