Understand Our Common Ground 

Americans who want our president and political parties to work together are the majority. We just tend to be drowned out by the vocal extremes and resistance efforts on either side.  

According to a February 2017 poll commissioned by The Hill, 73% of Americans (52% of Democrats and 48% of Republicans) want their party to work with President Trump.  Only 27% said that Democrats should resist Trump's every move.

Finding Common Ground begins with understanding our own biases, empathizing with others, and re-learning the age-old practices of civility. Good people can and do disagree.  They can do so respectfully.

Suggested resources:

 The Three Languages of Politics, by Arnold King. 

In this brief, readable essay that echoes conclusions from Jonathan Haidt's longer book, The Righteous Mind, Libertarian economist Arnold Kling surmises that Liberals, Conservatives, and Libertarians tend to see the world on three different axes.  Liberals' world view tends to orient on the axis of oppressor-oppressed; Conservatives on the axis of civilization-barbarism, Libertarians on the axis of freedom-coercion. Individuals in each camp use political language divided along these axes to show loyalty, elevate status, and create hostility towards others in opposing camps. Political debate using these preferred axes is frustrating and endless as each camp talks past the other without communicating.

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion, by Jonathan Haidt

Drawing on his twenty five years of groundbreaking research on moral psychology, Haidt shows how moral judgments arise not from reason but from gut feelings. He shows why liberals, conservatives, and libertarians have such different intuitions about right and wrong, and he shows why each side is actually right about many of its central concerns. In this subtle yet accessible book, Haidt gives you the key to understanding the miracle of human cooperation, as well as the curse of our eternal divisions and conflicts. If you’re ready to trade in anger for understanding, read The Righteous Mind.

Can't We All Disagree More Constructively? by Jonathan Haidt 

This excerpt from The Righteous Mind summarizes the moral origins of our politics and suggests that different political views represent a Yin and Yang that are interdependent and essential to maintain political balance.

Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit by Parker J. Palmer

Palmer explores five "habits of the heart" that can help us restore democracy's foundations as we nurture them in ourselves and each other:

  • An understanding that we are all in this together
  • An appreciation of the value of "otherness"
  • An ability to hold tension in life-giving ways
  • A sense of personal voice and agency
  • A capacity to create community

Civility by Stephen L. Carter

A thoughtful, classic meditation on the role of civility in modern democratic society by a Yale law professor and leading public intellectual on the importance of manners in forming our "pre-political" skills.  It is grounded in a conservative, Judeo-Christian perspective that is at the same time open-minded and draws heavily on examples from the Abolitionist and Civil Rights movements.

Choosing Civility: Twenty-five Rules of Considerate Conduct by P.L. Forni

The Chisel, a platform that allows you to engage in making policy with leaders from a range of America's leading think tanks from across the political spectrum.

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