Tag Archive for: depolarizing America

Common Ground Partner Series episode 75

Local Common Ground: Dinner and a Fight Dialogue

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How can people of all political stripes disagree constructively? Explore a lively grassroots effort.

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 efforts, such as the one we profile in this episode of Let’s Find Common Ground.

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 discuss 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 “dialogue.”

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 Director of Ohio Freedom Action Network (OhioFAN).

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Ep 75 – Local Common Ground: Dinner and a Fight Dialogue

Simon Montlake

Simon Montlake is a national reporter at the Christian Science Monitor, based in Boston. Democracy and politics are among his beats. He’s a former Monitor correspondent in Jakarta, Bangkok, and Beijing, where he covered political upheavals, civil wars, economic crises, natural disasters, and the Beijing Olympics.

In addition to the Monitor, Simon has worked for The Economist and Forbes. Born in London, he was educated at the University of Manchester, and has a soft spot for Manchester City FC.

Ted Wetzel

Ted Wetzel is founder and executive director of Fighting-To-Understand, a 501(c)3 organized in 2019 for civic education. Ted brings a background of engineering, sales, marketing, business ownership, parenting, organizational development, psychology, and spirituality to bear on the gnawing question: if democracy is rooted in disagreement, then how do We The People become very skilled at healthy disagreement? A first step on this journey can be participation in Dinner and a Fight Dialogue.

Tom Hach

Tom is the State Director of Ohio Freedom Action Network (OhioFAN), a group made up of liberty group leaders from across the state.

Tom retired as an IT program manager after many years, and he also retired from the Navy Reserve after a 21 year career, during which he served in Iraq from 2006 to 2007. Additionally, Tom is in his third term as a school board member.

Want to hear more? Check out our podcast page to see all the discussions!

Bridging Divides on College Campuses

Bridging Divides on College Campuses

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Can young people find the solution to overcoming the hostility caused by political polarization?

Rigid polarization and political division are among the biggest challenges facing our country. Young people are often taught 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 Richter, who calls himself a committed liberal, are active members of BridgeUSA, a national movement of students who are working to emphasize the importance of empathy, understanding and ideological diversity.

In this podcast episode of Let’s Find Common Ground, we hear about their personal experiences of cancel culture, the impact of social media on Generation Z students, and why many young people actually feel that free speech can harm them. We also learn about efforts to equip students with skills to find solutions across divides and build bridges with others of different backgrounds and points of view.

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Ep 68 – Bridging Divides on College Campuses

Clare Ashcraft

Clare Ashcraft is an English and philosophy student at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. At Capital, she leads a chapter of BridgeUSA, is involved with student government, Sigma Tau Delta, and ReCap Literary Magazine. She also builds sets in the Cabaret theater. Outside of class, she works as a bridging & bias assistant for AllSides. She enjoys listening to podcasts and cooking in her free time.

Jackson Richter

Jackson Richter is completing his master’s degree in public policy at Stanford University, where he recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in public policy with a minor in data science. He is the President of Stanford’s BridgeUSA chapter, known on campus as the Stanford Political Union. He is passionate about health care, socially minded entrepreneurship, and equity. Jackson is also a proud New Yorker and an avid supporter of the city’s sports teams.

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climate change podcast

Climate Action: A Progressive and a Conservative Find Common Ground

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Can progressives and conservatives find common ground on climate change?

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 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 stopping 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.

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Ep 61 – Climate Action: A Progressive and a Conservative Find Common Ground

Bill McKibben

Bill McKibben is a contributing writer to The New Yorker, and a founder of Third Act, which organizes people over the age of 60 to work on climate and racial justice. He founded the first global grassroots climate campaign, 350.org, and serves as the Schumann Distinguished Professor in Residence at Middlebury College in Vermont. In 2014 he was awarded the Right Livelihood Prize, sometimes called the ‘alternative Nobel,’ in the Swedish Parliament. He’s also won the Gandhi Peace Award and honorary degrees from 19 colleges and universities. He has written over a dozen books about the environment, including his first, The End of Nature, published in 1989, and the forthcoming The Flag, the Cross, and the Station Wagon: A Graying American Looks Back at his Suburban Boyhood and Wonders What the Hell Happened.

Bob Inglis

Bob Inglis is the Executive Director of republicEn.org. He was elected to the U.S. Congress in 1992, having never run for office before. He represented Greenville-Spartanburg, South Carolina, from 1993-1998, unsuccessfully challenged U.S. Senator Fritz Hollings in 1998, and then returned to the practice of commercial real estate law in
Greenville, S.C. In 2004, he was re-elected to Congress and served until losing re-election in the South Carolina Republican primary of 2010.

In 2011, Inglis went full-time into promoting free enterprise action on climate change and launched the Energy and Enterprise Initiative (“E&EI”) at George Mason University in July 2012. In the fall of 2014, E&EI rebranded to become republicEn.org.

republicEn is a growing grassroots community of over 10,000 Americans educating the country about free-enterprise solutions to climate change. The organization is a 501(c)(3) operation hosted at the George Mason University Foundation and educates, recruits, and organizes conservative voices for action on climate change.

For his work on climate change, Inglis was given the 2015 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. He appears in the film Merchants of Doubt and in the Showtime series YEARS of Living Dangerously (episodes 3 and 4), and he’s spoken at TEDxBeaconStreet and TEDxJacksonville.

Inglis was a Resident Fellow at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics in 2011, a Visiting Energy Fellow at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment in 2012, and a Resident Fellow at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics in 2014.

Inglis grew up in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, went to Duke University for college, met and married his college sweetheart, graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law, and practiced commercial real estate law in Greenville, S.C., before and between his years in Congress. Bob and Mary Anne Inglis have five children (a son and four daughters). They live on a small farm in northern Greenville
County, South Carolina.

 

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Will Hurd Common Ground Podcast

The Crucial Role of Political Centrists

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Does the future lie with politicians who appeal to the center? Learn why this former Congressman says yes.

The world appears to be one 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 a larger group?

Our guest on this week’s podcast says yes. Former CIA agent and Republican congressman Will Hurd of San Antonio won three terms in Texas’s 23rd congressional district, a district he was told he could never win because it was bright blue, while he was red.

He says he succeeded by engaging with everyone, not just voters who shared all his beliefs – and he believes others can do the same. Just don’t call them moderates.

“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 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 on which we run our lives.

All in this episode of Let’s Find Common Ground.

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Ep 60 – The Crucial Role of Political Centrists

Will Hurd

Will Hurd is currently a managing director at Allen & Company and former member of Congress, cybersecurity executive, and undercover officer in the CIA. For almost two decades he’s been involved in the most pressing national security issues challenging the country whether it was in the back-alleys of dangerous places, boardrooms of top international businesses or halls of Congress.

After stopping terrorists, preventing Russian spies from stealing our secrets, and putting nuclear weapons proliferators out of business, Will helped build a cybersecurity company that prepared businesses for the next domain of conflict – cyberspace.

While in Congress, Texas Monthly and Politico Magazine called Will “The Future of the GOP,” because he put good policy over good politics at a time when America was often consumed with what divides us rather than what unites us. He was able to get more legislation signed into law in three terms than most congressmen do in three decades – substantive legislation like a national strategy for Artificial Intelligence.

Will is a native of San Antonio and earned a Computer Science degree from Texas A&M University. Additionally, he is growing the US transatlantic partnership with Europe as a trustee of the German Marshall Fund, an OpenAI board member, and most recently served as a fellow at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics. He is also the author of American Reboot: An Idealist’s Guide to Getting Big Things Done, which was released in March 2022. For more information, please visit www.willbhurd.com.

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Common Ground Podcast

Our Common Ground: What Polling Doesn’t Reveal About Americans

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Are we as far apart as polling suggests? What this research innovator found might surprise you on what polling doesn’t reveal about Americans.

All too often people in public life talk past one another. But what happens when we listen and give people the space to explain who they really are and how they view today’s most divisive issues?

On guns, abortion, government spending and even partisan politics, most people may not be 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.

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Ep 59 – Our Common Ground: What Polling Doesn’t Reveal About Americans

Diane Hessan

Diane Hessan is an award-winning entrepreneur and innovator in the market research field and a nationally recognized expert on the American voter. Since 2016, she has been engaged in an in-depth longitudinal study of the electorate, looking for trends, shifts and common ground. She has written more than fifty columns about her findings for the Boston Globe and her work has also been featured on CNN and NPR, and in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Forbes, Fortune, and many other outlets. Her new book, Our Common Ground: Insights from Four Years of Listening to American Voters, was published in 2021 by RealClear Publishing.

She is the founder and Chairman of C Space, formerly called Communispace, and was CEO of the company during fourteen years of exponential growth, as C Space worked with hundreds of global corporations across twelve countries.

She received a BA in economics and English from Tufts University, and an MBA from Harvard Business School, and received an honorary degree from Bentley University.

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DEPOLARIZING AMERICA PODCAST

We’re Less Divided Than We Think

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Are we all Team Red or Team Blue? Here’s why this thought leader is sounding the alarm on a false narrative.

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,” says Tony. 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.

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Ep 58 – We’re Less Divided Than We Think

Tony Woodlief

Tony Woodlief is Executive Vice President at State Policy Network, which advocates practical federalism and catalyzes thriving, durable freedom movements in the states. Previously he led the Bill of Rights Institute, the Market-Based Management Institute, and the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. Prior to those positions, he worked for Koch Industries and the Charles Koch Foundation.

Tony’s essays on politics, faith, parenting, and culture have appeared in The Wall Street Journal,  New York Post, Washington Post, and other publications, and he has appeared on Fox News, CSPAN, and radio programs across the U.S. His short fiction has appeared in Image, Ruminate, Saint Katherine Review, and elsewhere. An alumnus of the University of North Carolina, Tony holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Michigan, and an MFA in creative writing from Wichita State University. He is the founder of Intentional Fathering, which is devoted to helping fathers build better parenting habits, and the author of I, Citizen, a book about reclaiming American self-governance.

Want to hear more? Check out our podcast page to see all the discussions!

Depolarizing America: Building Consensus Step-by-Step

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These political veterans disagree on many issues, except that now is the time for bridge building. Here’s why.

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.

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Ep. 57- Depolarizing America: Building Consensus Step-by-Step

Rob Fersh

Rob Fersh is a Senior Advisor and the Founder of Convergence Center for Policy Resolution, a non-profit organization founded in 2009 to promote consensus solutions to issues of domestic and international importance. Immediately prior, Rob served as the United States country director for Search for Common Ground, an international conflict resolution organization. While at SFCG, he directed national policy consensus projects on health care coverage for the uninsured and U.S.-Muslim relations.

In the 1986-98 period, Rob served as president of the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), a leading NGO working to alleviate hunger in the United States. Rob also served on the staffs of three Congressional committees, working for U.S. Representative Leon Panetta and for Senators Patrick Leahy and Edmund Muskie. While a Congressional staff member and at FRAC, he was deeply involved in shepherding passage of bipartisan legislation to reduce hunger in the United States. Rob has held additional positions in the federal executive branch and non-profit sector. He was a 1994 recipient of the Prudential Foundation Prize for Non-Profit Leadership. Rob holds a law degree from Boston University and a bachelor’s degree in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University, where he has served as a guest lecturer and co-instructor of a course on collaborative decision making and public policy. He is married, has four children, and two grandchildren.

Kelly Johnston

Kelly Johnston retired from the Campbell Soup Company in October 2018 after a 16-year career as Vice President-Government Affairs. Previously, Kelly spent nearly 25 years in Washington, DC in several leadership positions within the executive and legislative branches of the federal government, politics, and the trade association world. He was Executive Vice President for Government Affairs and Communications at the National Food Processors’ Association (NFPA), serving as the organization’s chief government affairs and communications officer for nearly 6 years.

From 1995 to 1997, he was the Secretary of the US Senate, the Senate’s chief legislative, financial and administrative officer. Kelly has also served as Staff Director of the Senate Republican Policy Committee; Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs in the U.S. Department of Transportation; and chief of staff or press secretary to three Members of Congress.

Kelly remains active in the non-profit community. He is a founding board member of the Bonnie and Bill Stubblefield Institute for Civil Political Communication at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, WV. He also currently serves on the board of Business-Industry Political Action Committee (BIPAC), which is dedicated to helping employers educate their employees on public policy issues of importance to their jobs. He is a former chairman of the Canadian American Business Council and former co-chair of the Congressional Management Foundation. He blogs on public policy issues, history, and politics at Against the Grain.

A native of Oklahoma, Kelly earned his B.A. degree in Communications in 1976 from the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, where he has been named to the Alumni Hall of Fame. He attended Georgetown University’s Graduate School of Demography in Washington, D.C. He has guest lectured on politics, government, lobbying and communications at several universities, including Yale University, the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania, George Washington University, Shepherd University, and Burlington County College in New Jersey.

He and his wife, Adrienne, live in Arlington, Virginia. They have two sons.

Journalist Mónica Guzmán

Healing Conversations Across Dangerous Divides

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Is it possible to find common ground with anyone? A liberal daughter of a conservative family shares her story.

Journalist Mónica Guzmán is the loving liberal daughter of Mexican immigrants who strongly support Donald Trump. We hear her 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 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 anyone.

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Ep 54 – Healing Conversations Across Dangerous Divides

Mónica Guzmán

Mónica Guzmán is Director of Digital and Storytelling at Braver Angels, a nonprofit working to depolarize America; host of the Crosscut interview series Northwest Newsmakers; and author of I Never Thought Of It That Way: How to Have Fearlessly Curious Conversations in Dangerously Divided Times.

She was a 2019 fellow at the Henry M. Jackson Foundation, where she studied social and political division, and a 2016 fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, where she studied how journalists can better meet the needs of a participatory public.

Before committing to the project of helping people understand each other across the political divide, Mónica cofounded the award-winning Seattle newsletter The Evergrey and led a national network of groundbreaking local newsletters as VP of Local for WhereBy.Us.

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Story Hinckley & Christa Case Bryant Podcast

The State of Polarization: 2022

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A year after the assault on the Capitol, is America more or less polarized? Two journalists search for answers.

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 of that day and the reactions to what happened.

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.

In their reporting throughout the year, both journalists sought answers to complex questions about what caused people to storm the Capitol, and why Democrats and Republicans have very different views about voter access, election laws, and the controversy over the 2020 vote count. In this episode, we also examine the role of the media and individual reporters in covering the state of polarization.

Join us as we begin our third year of “Let’s Find Common Ground.”

Read more from Christa Case Bryant and Story Hinckley: “A divided anniversary: Jan. 6 in the eyes of those who were there.”

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Ep 47 – The State of Polarization: 2022

Story Hinckley

Story Hinckley is a National Political Correspondent based in Washington.

She holds a B.A. from the University of Virginia where she double majored in Political Science and Environmental Thought and Practice, and a master’s in journalism from Northeastern University.

Christa Case Bryant

Christa Case Bryant is The Christian Science Monitor’s senior Congressional correspondent, building on four years of experience editing and reporting on U.S. politics, including as Heartland correspondent.

A 2015-16 Nieman fellow at Harvard, she previously served as the Monitor’s Jerusalem bureau chief, Middle East editor, and Europe editor. She has reported from Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Germany, Estonia, and South Korea.

Ms. Bryant holds an M.A. in international relations from The Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy at Tufts University, and a B.A. from Principia College, where she focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a major in global perspectives and a minor in religion. She also attended the Middlebury School of Hebrew and studied spoken Arabic in Jerusalem.

After spending many years as a cross-country ski racer on the national and international level, Ms. Bryant has a special interest in all things Olympian. She covered the Winter Olympics in 2010 and 2018.

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Nathan Bomey

Depolarizing America: Bridge Builders. Bringing People Together.

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How can we bring people together in a polarized age? A journalist explores stories of hope.

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 are they and how are they tackling racial, cultural, and political schisms?

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 more 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 way forward.

Learn more about the bridge-building groups mentioned in this episode:

  • The Everyday Projects uses photography to challenge the stereotypes that distort our understanding of the world.
  • Be the Bridge is a Christian group led by Latasha Morrison that seeks to empower anti-racist bridge builders.
  • Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project creates bridges of communication, understanding and support between Americans and Iraqis in response to decades of sanctions, war, and occupation.
  • Common Ground Committee is a member of Bridge Alliance, a community of more than a hundred organizations across the country.

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Ep. 39: Depolarizing America – Bridge Builders. Bringing People Together.

Nathan Bomey

Nathan Bomey is a reporter for USA TODAY and the author of three nationally published nonfiction books, including most recently Bridge Builders: Bringing People Together in a Polarized Age (2021, Polity Press). Bridge Builders features insights from Americans who are overcoming their differences, whether it’s politics, race, religion, class or culture.

Before joining USA TODAY in 2015, Nathan was a reporter for the Detroit Free Press and several newspapers in his home state of Michigan. His first book, Detroit Resurrected: To Bankruptcy and Back (2016, W.W. Norton & Co.), chronicles the saga of the city’s historic bankruptcy. His second book, After the Fact: The Erosion of Truth and the Inevitable Rise of Donald Trump (2018, Prometheus), explores the implications of the misinformation age.

A graduate of Eastern Michigan University, Nathan is the winner of several national journalism awards, including the National Headliner Award and various honors from the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing. You can follow him on Twitter @NathanBomey.

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