This past week we witnessed two vastly different approaches to common ground. On the one hand, we watched as the State of Florida and its heretofore conservative Governor Rick Scott passed what could be described for that particular state as surprisingly progressive gun control legislation. The package approved by the Florida legislature and signed by Governor Scott did not include everything that some constituents hoped for. However, the new laws showed signs that the recent Parkland tragedy, social media as well as in-person demonstrations from the students and populists were strong enough to move politicians that had until this moment been unwilling to enact this type of legislation limiting gun purchases.
On the other hand, we also witnessed the House Intelligence Committee led by a Republican majority issue notice along with a 150-page report, ending their investigation into alleged Russian interference with the 2016 election. What is important here is not so much what their findings were since depending on your particular political view you may or may not agree. The Democrat minority on the committee found out about the decision and the report via the news as opposed to any personal discussions. This is disappointing and could be said to be an egregious break in the Congressional protocol that speaks to just how broken the federal legislative system is currently.
In the case of Florida, common ground was met in various degrees. Whether or not it was motivated by emotion or the pragmatic thought that many of the students will be coming of voting age for the upcoming November elections is open to question. However, the simple fact is, common ground was achieved in a state on a topic that up until recently would not have looked to enact this type of legislation.
Florida’s action raises the efficacy of our current federal system. When Congressional committees cannot even observe the basic protocols of notifying opposition members of decisions of the majority, will we need to look to each state and its citizens to achieve common ground?
What then is common ground vis-a-vis the national interest or are we at a point where common ground will be that which each state views as such? How does this impact state to state border relations? While there has and always will be differences in how regions view many issues, are we swinging more towards a state’s rights system when it comes to many issues that divide us as a nation. If so, what would that look like?