Daily Resource Highlight - 3/28/2022

Posted by on March 28, 2022 at 1:00 PM

Below are the highlights and featured resources of this past week’s Daily* Resource.

March 21, 2022 - Do You Want Common Ground? Think About It.

In 2012, Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock said “I certainly think bipartisanship ought to consist of Democrats coming to the Republican point of view.” While Mourdock was criticized for that perspective, I think he expressed a belief that many share – bipartisanship and compromise sound good in theory, until you’re asked to soften your positions or think differently about important issues.

This way of thinking makes perfect sense to me. And I think it helps explain why a large majority of Americans are concerned about political division, but Common Ground Scorecard champions like Joe Manchin and Lisa Murkowski are routinely criticized by members of their own party. We want to seek common ground, but don’t want to sacrifice our version of what’s “good” and “righteous” in the name of bipartisanship.

Nevertheless, we believe that there is a path forward that Americans can get excited about. That path is being explored by members of the Problem Solvers Caucus, which Common Ground Committee has covered in detail. In a recent episode of their podcast “Let’s Find Common Ground,” CGC interviewed two members of that Caucus - Representatives Kilmer and Timmons – who spoke about their support for the bipartisan Building Civic Bridges Act and their work on the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress.

Additionally, we know that it is possible to treat each other well even in the face of polarization. This study from the National Institute for Civil Discourse sought to measure civility in state legislatures, which it was careful to distinguish from polarization. Even so, they found that “[c]ivility…might mitigate some of the ill effects of acute partisan polarization.”

That being said, we can also build bridges without jumping straight to policy making. For instance, Common Ground Committee and Bridge Alliance are partnering on “Finding Common Ground On Media, Politics And Polarization” on April 24th @ 8 PM ET during the National Week of Conversation. The focus of that event will be the role of media outlets in helping Americans realize their common ground, and how the media can regain the public’s trust

We believe all of these actions, studies, and events can help guide us toward a better, more productive future for America, and we look forward to continuing on this journey with you.

March 24, 2022 - Does Russian Media Make You Appreciate Our Free Press?

At the beginning of February, I discussed the First Amendment and freedom of speech and the press in America. As I noted, the First Amendment does not protect speakers or the media from corporations or citizens. So it’s completely legal for advertisers to boycott controversial figures like Tucker Carlson and Joe Rogan (Future 500).

The importance of this distinction cannot be overstated. As that Future 500 article makes clear, boycotts can have an impact on controversial speech, but when “notable brands like Papa Johns and Twitter ceased advertising [with Tucker Carlson]...others took their place.” Carlson and Rogan still have their platforms, and still have large, dedicated audiences.

In Russia, it appears to be almost the opposite situation (I say “appears” because I do not know Russian media or culture). The Putin regime has banned any media that disagrees with its preferred narrative, and has (sometimes violently) suppressed anti-war protests. 

To be clear, I know that America does not have a spotless track record of defending free speech rights. Legal or not, we know the American government has responded to protected speech, media, and protest with various forms of suppression. However, I still feel thankful to live in a nation where organizations like FairVote and Divided We Fall can directly criticize the two major political parties for rigging the system through gerrymandering, and do so without fear of retaliation by our government.

I could pull literally hundreds (probably thousands) of examples of Bridge Alliance member organizations criticizing our government and individual politicians, including direct accusations of corruption (hi RepresentUs!). That, to me, is a hallmark of our democracy, and a beautiful reminder that we have the foundation in place to build a strong America that’s ready to take on the challenges of the 21st century.