WORKING TOGETHER FOR CHANGE

In our last blog, CFFAD argued these key points: (1) in a democracy like our republic, if you want to change how things are, then you need to find ways to win more people over to your side; and that means (2) that it won’t do to stay within your comfort zone, you will have to get out there and work with people you don’t know and might not easily trust.

In this blog, CFFAD wishes to remind you that (3) change is easier when our elected representatives are working together to get something done; and (4) there is far more common ground to build on than you will hear from the media.

According to GovTrack.us, having bipartisan sponsorship is one of the key factors that will get a bill adopted by Congress:  specifically, that the bill’s sponsor is in the majority party and at least 1/3rd of the co-sponsors are in the minority party.  The Democratic and Republican state party chairmen from South Carolina, Jaime Harrison, and Matt Moore, for example, worked together on criminal justice reform in South Carolina.  At the federal level, in 2016, Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander, a Republican, and Washington Senator Patty Murray, a Democrat, worked together on a new education policy law.  Most recently this year, bipartisan sponsorship and bipartisan voting brought us a bill to better fight the opioid epidemic and another bill to ensure musicians a fair share of profits from their work.  Bottom line:  if you want change, it makes sense to push your representatives to work together.

It will always be true that any two people will find something to disagree about. It is equally true that they almost always have things they agree on.  You hear less about that because it’s boring and won’t sell as many clicks or advertising in the media.  Nevertheless, it remains true.  As Dominic Tierney pointed out in 2011, Americans are quite united when it comes to democracy over dictatorship, freedom from slavery, equal opportunities for all, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the rule of law.  In 2013, a survey designed by a team of Republican and Democratic pollsters for Esquire Magazine found there are many issues that a majority of Americans, even partisan Democrat and Republican voters, tend to prioritize to the same degree.  In some cases, the majority in 2013 leaned right (for example 81% supported offshore drilling) while in other cases it leaned left (for example 70% support paid maternity leave).  In January 2017, the Pew Charitable Trust did a survey of American priorities and found close agreement between conservatives and liberals on putting social security on a sound financial basis, dealing with global trade, reducing lobbyist influence, putting Medicare on a sound financial footing, improving the jobs situation, reducing health care costs, reducing crime, and dealing with drug addiction.  In May and September, a bipartisan survey by TheChisel also found many areas of commonality in what Americans want.  They discovered Americans, Left, right, and center, prioritized the same goals in 18 categories including education, civic responsibility, consumer protection, foreign aid, banking and finance, basic needs for all, congressional functioning, corporate taxation, defense, elections, employment, immigration, industry, the internet, transportation, corporate values, utilities performance, and obligations to war veterans. Bottom line: there is plenty of common ground for our elected representatives to build on. You could remind them of that.

Photo credit: City of Toronto Archives

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