Finding Common Ground on the State of Our Democracy

Thursday, November 17, 2022 – 3pm PT/6 pm ET
University of Southern California, Town and Gown
Finding Common Ground on The State of our Democracy

Can Democrats and Republicans agree on how to strengthen democracy? Watch political veterans James Carville and Reince Priebus explore common ground.

Pundits and historians viewed the November midterms as critical to the future of American democracy. But do liberals and conservatives agree on the emerging narrative, and the steps that must be taken to continue to strengthen our model of governance?

Common Ground Committee was honored to partner with the Dornsife Center for the Political Future at the University of Southern California to present a special conversation with Democratic political icon James Carville and former White House Chief of Staff (2017) and Republican National Committee Chairman (2011-2017) Reince Priebus, moderated by Bob Shrum, Director of the Dornsife Center.

Carville and Priebus – as Bill Clinton’s lead political strategist and Donald Trump’s former White House Chief of Staff, respectively – brought vastly divergent perspectives to the conversation. Yet they found many points of common ground on the state of politics and what is most important to preserve America’s system of self-governance.

Watch this special conversation, presented as the final session of the Dornsife Center for the Political Future’s 2022 Warschaw Conference on Practical Politics, to get a behind-the-scenes take on today’s campaign dynamics and learn what these two seasoned strategists agree on.

Featured Speakers

James Carville

James “The Ragin’ Cajun” Carville is America’s best-known political consultant. His long list of electoral successes evidences a knack for re-making political underdogs into upset winners. His most prominent victory was in 1992, when he helped William Jefferson Clinton win the Presidency. In recent years, he has focused on campaigns around the globe, from Europe to Asia. Carville is also a best-selling author, actor, producer, talk-show host, speaker, restaurateur and the co-founder of Democracy Corps, an independent nonprofit polling organization dedicated to making government more responsive to the American people. He co-hosts the weekly Politicon podcast Politics War Room with journalist Al Hunt.

Reince Priebus

Reince Priebus was named White House Chief of Staff shortly after Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign. Previously, he was the longest-serving chairman of the Republican National Committee in modern history (2011-2017). By welcoming new voters and harnessing the power of new technologies, he built the infrastructure needed for landslide GOP victories. During his prior tenure as chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, Priebus created the framework for one of the most historic election cycles Wisconsin has ever experienced. He is a regular political commentator for major news channels and is an officer in the U.S. Navy Reserves. Prior to his role at CBS News, he served as a visiting Fellow at Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School.

Bob Shrum

Robert Shrum is the Director of the Center for the Political Future and the Carmen H. and Louis Warschaw Chair in Practical Politics at USC Dornsife. A legendary political strategist, he was once described as “the most sought-after consultant in the Democratic Party,” by The Atlantic Monthly. A speechwriter for multiple presidential campaigns, he was the strategist in over 25 winning U.S. Senate campaigns as well as numerous campaigns for Congress and statewide offices. A graduate of Georgetown University and Harvard Law School, Shrum is an author, journalist and television writer. In 2015, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Association of Political Consultants and was inducted into its Hall of Fame.

Presented by

Common Ground Committee

Common Ground Committee (CGC) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) citizen-led organization dedicated to bringing healing to the national challenges of polarization and incivility. Since its founding in 2009, CGC has held 18 public forums featuring panelists who have reached over 250 points of consensus. Panelists have included such notable pairings as John Kerry and Condoleezza Rice, Chris Murphy and Will Hurd, David Petraeus and Susan Rice, Michael Steele and Donna Brazile, Chris Wallace and Maggie Haberman, and Larry Kudlow and Barney Frank, exploring issues ranging from race and income inequality to foreign policy. CGC produces the Let’s Find Common Ground podcast series, which has had over 200 thousand downloads and over 100 thousand subscribers. CGC also created the Common Ground Scorecard, a voting tool that scores politicians and candidates for public office on their likelihood to find common ground with the opposite party. Free of political agenda and financial influence, CGC has a singular focus on bringing light, not heat, to public discourse.

USC Dornsife Center for the Political Future

The University of Southern California’s Dornsife Center for the Political Future (CPF) combines rigorous intellectual inquiry, teaching, and practical politics to advance civil dialogue and research that transcends partisan divisions and finds solutions to pressing national and global challenges. Its events, programs, scholarships, and internships inspire and train students for careers in public service and lifetimes of civic engagement. Learn more.