Even after the most contentious elections, Congress and the president, Republicans and Democrats, traditionally come together to find common ground for the good of the nation. But continuing post-election hyperpartisan showdowns have Americans wondering whether Washington can perform its basic work, let alone take farsighted action to build a more vibrant future.
Democrats and Republicans are not just more divided ideologically but also less collaborative in practice than at any time in our careers. Even more troublingly, we suspect that much of America is similarly riven along party lines, goaded to partisanship by increasingly shrill voices in politics, the news media and well-funded interests.
For these reasons, we have joined with our fellow co-chairs, former senators Tom Daschle, Trent Lott and Dirk Kempthorne, and Americans from all walks of life, to create a Commission on Political Reform (CPR), under the Bipartisan Policy Center.
Our group will hold “National Conversations on American Unity” around the country, starting March 6 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library in California, inviting people across the nation to join the dialogue online. Average Americans of differing political and cultural views need to begin talking with one another, just as politicians in Washington must, if we are to bridge the partisan divide and compel action.
Today’s heightened divisions should not doom America to gridlock. The political system has to function despite this divide. To help move us forward, our commission will therefore make policy recommendations in three areas: electoral system reform, congressional reform and encouragement of greater public service: