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Let's Find Common Ground

Author: Common Ground Committee

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As the tone of public discourse becomes increasingly angry and divisive, Common Ground Committee offers a healing path to reaching agreement and moving forward. We talk with top leaders in public policy, finance, academe and more to encourage the seeking and finding of points of agreement, and to demonstrate how combating incivility can lead us forward.

86 Episodes
Memorial Day honors the men and women who sacrificed their lives in service to our country. In our next podcast episode, we discuss different ways to look at patriotism. Our guest, retired US naval officer and Washington Post newspaper columnist Theodore Johnson ponders the question, “How can we take pride in a nation with a history of injustice and inequality?”   At a high school football game, Johnson, who is African-American, stood at attention when the national anthem was played. His teenage son, who was about to play in the game, took a knee in a protest against police brutality. Johnson argues that both acts were expressions of patriotism and is proud of his son's decision.   "For me, being a patriot is not about uncritical celebration and talking only about how exceptional we are and how great the country is," Johnson tells us. "Being a true patriot requires that you both love the nation and critique it." On this insightful episode of "Let's Find Common Ground", Theodore Johnson also discusses his thoughts for how America can have more productive and uplifting discussions about race. Please tell us what you think! Share your feedback in this short survey. For every survey completed, we’ll plant 5 trees.  Common Ground Podcast Feedback Survey (
We speak with two women from opposing sides of the bitter and often toxic debate over abortion. Frances Hogan and The Rev. Anne Fowler were involved in a series of years-long intensive, secret talks. Their candid conversations began after a gunman opened fire at two Massachusetts abortion clinics nearly thirty years ago. The attack left two women dead and five people injured.   In this episode, we learn the extraordinary story of how Anne and Frances gained a much deeper understanding and respect for one another. They didn’t change their views about the abortion issue, but they did become friends.  We share moments of compassion, kindness, and humor. Both Frances and Anne were among those profiled in the new documentary, "Abortion Talks", about what happened after the deadly attacks. On "Let's Find Common Ground", both of them explain how incredibly difficult it was to be part of many hours of exhausting conversations. We hear how they learned to overcome fear, stereotyping, misunderstandings, and anger.  Please tell us what you think! Share your feedback in this short survey. For every survey completed, we’ll plant 5 trees.  Common Ground Podcast Feedback Survey (
It’s often said that America is as politically divided as it has ever been. In this week’s show we dive into the data from two different groups that study American attitudes. What they discovered challenges some of our assumptions about the current state of US politics, and offers us a sense of context missing from noisy ‘us versus them’ type arguments.  John Geer of Vanderbilt University discusses the latest findings from Vanderbilt’s Unity Index, which tracks Americans’ trust in institutions and democracy. Kate Carney, chief of staff at More in Common in Washington DC, talks about the group’s ‘Speaking to the Exhausted Majority’ report. Both reports are examples of deep research into the state of American public opinion and where common ground may lie. We discuss the extent to which US democracy is under threat, who really makes up the ‘exhausted majority’ of American voters, and what liberals and conservatives get wrong about the other side.  Please tell us what you think! Share your feedback in this short survey. For every survey completed we’ll plant 5 trees.  Common Ground Podcast Feedback Survey (
Every day we are bombarded with negative news and polarizing opinions from politicians, pundits, and others who seek attention, power, and money by escalating division. Our guest, Amanda Ripley, calls them "conflict entrepreneurs." In this podcast, Amanda explains why she believes the problem we face in America isn't too much conflict. Instead, it’s the type of disagreement we are having. We hear about the crucial differences between constructive conflict, where different sides seek to find common ground, and destructive conflict where discord distills into a good-versus-evil kind of feud, with an "us" and a "them". Amanda Ripley is a journalist and columnist for The Washington Post. Her recent book is "High Conflict: Why We Get Trapped and How We Get Out." Please tell us what you think! Share your feedback in this short survey. For every survey completed, we’ll plant 5 trees.  Common Ground Podcast Feedback Survey (
Our last show focused on finding common ground when talking to strangers. In this show we explore friendship and empathy with two guests who are friends themselves, a Catholic priest and a Protestant pastor.  Father Tim Holeda leads Saint Thomas More Co-Cathedral, and Latricia Scriven is pastor of Saint Paul’s United Methodist Church, both in Tallahassee, Florida.  As religious leaders, our guests offer a perspective many people don’t have these days. They grapple with moral questions in their work that we often don’t consider, and draw on the wisdom of ancient texts to help them navigate our complicated modern world.  Tune in to hear more on this latest episode of Let’s Find Common Ground. Thank you to The Village Square and The Village Square's God Squad, a politically diverse group of faith leaders, for making this show possible. Please tell us what you think! Share your feedback in this short survey. For every survey completed, we’ll plant 5 trees.  Common Ground Podcast Feedback Survey (
Most of us live comfortably in our bubbles, interacting with people who think and often look like us. We may sift out others who don’t fit our mold.  A long pandemic hasn’t helped: Covid has made many people wary of being around strangers, let alone talking to them. If you live in a city you operate by invisible rules where you pay just enough attention to a stranger, allowing each of you the space to carry on politely…and distantly. But our guest on this episode says taking the time to talk to people you don’t know can bring unexpected pleasures, and lead to more openness and tolerance.  Kio Stark is a qualitative researcher and the author of the book When Strangers Meet. She says when you engage with another person in a store, on a park bench, in line at the DMV, you are getting a peek into someone else’s world and entering into a shared humanity. You’re forging a connection that may help you see the world from another person’s perspective. As Kio says, “a conversation with a stranger can open up your idea of who you think of as part of the society in which you live.” Hear more on the latest episode of Let’s Find Common Ground. Please tell us what you think! Share your feedback in this short survey. For every survey completed, we’ll plant 5 trees.  Common Ground Podcast Feedback Survey (
In the first eight weeks of this year, America’s epidemic of mass shootings and gun crimes showed no signs of reprieve. In fact, the crisis may be getting much worse. According to the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit group that tracks firearms violence in the U.S., there have been at least 90 mass shootings since January 1.  We take a close look at gun violence and the search for common ground. We learn why so many Americans love guns and say they need them for self-defense. We also hear about differences in regional attitudes to guns, and what happens to communities that witness mass shootings.   Our guests are journalist Patrick Jonsson and gun safety advocate Ryan Busse, author of “Gunfight: My Battle Against the Industry That Radicalized America”.  Patrik Jonsson is the Atlanta-based correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor. He writes about The South, gun rights, race, extremist groups, natural disasters, and hockey. Ryan Busse grew up around guns — hunting and shooting with his father and had a long and successful executive career in the gun industry. Despite being a strong critic of the NRA, he's still a proud gun owner, hunter, and outdoorsman who lives in Montana. Please tell us what you think! Share your feedback in this short survey. For every survey completed, we’ll plant 5 trees.  Common Ground Podcast Feedback Survey (
Almost 70 percent of Generation Z voted for Democrats in November’s midterm elections. As the years go by, Republicans are getting an ever smaller slice of the youth vote. In the last episode, we looked at why Democrats are failing with rural voters. This time we ask why the GOP does so badly with young ones.  Generation Z is often described as overwhelmingly liberal. But our guests on this show - two young Republicans - say it’s not that simple, and that if the GOP engaged in better marketing and outreach, it could win over many of the young electorates. Joe Mitchell is a former state congressman from Iowa, elected to the Iowa House of Representatives at the age of 21. He is also the president and founder of Run Gen Z, a nonprofit dedicated to recruiting and mentoring the next generation of conservative leaders as they prepare to run for office. Karoline Leavitt ran for Congress in New Hampshire last year, securing the nomination in the state’s 1st Congressional District at the age of 25. Previously she worked in the White House as assistant press secretary to President Trump. Joe and Karoline say Republicans don’t need to change their conservative message to win over young voters. Rather they argue that the GOP should appeal to Gen Z where they are, particularly on social media, and support the young candidates trying to reach them.  Please tell us what you think! Share your feedback in this short survey. For every survey completed we’ll plant 5 trees.  Common Ground Podcast Feedback Survey (
Why do the two main political parties do so poorly with some large groups of voters? In this episode, we look at how in recent decades Democrats have been losing rural America by growing margins. In 1996, Bill Clinton carried nearly half of all rural counties. But in 2020 Joe Biden won majorities in fewer than 7% of these counties.  Our guest, Chloe Maxmin, a progressive Democrat from rural Maine, was the youngest woman ever to serve in Maine's Senate. She was elected in a conservative district in 2020 after unseating a two-term Republican incumbent in a region that twice voted for Donald Trump by large majorities. She argues that her party has ignored voters in rural America and that their road to winning begins with respect, empathy, seeking common ground, and listening carefully to rural voters' concerns. On the doorstep candidates and volunteers, Maxmin argues, should "take the time to listen to why somebody believes the things they do and why they think the way they do." Our next show will focus on Republicans and their struggles with Gen-Z voters. Our previous episode was about why independent voters are ignored and misunderstood by both main parties. Please tell us what you think! Share your feedback in this short survey. For every survey completed we’ll plant 5 trees.  Common Ground Podcast Feedback Survey (
Independent voters make up more than 40 percent of the voting public. But you wouldn’t know that from media coverage, which focuses almost exclusively on red versus blue. Independents are often overlooked or seen as wishy-washy. Our guests on this episode say that’s a big misconception.  In this show we look at a group of voters, including many young people, that is making up a growing slice of the US population.   Our guests are Jackie Salit and John Opdycke. Jackie is the author of Independents Rising and president of Independent Voting, an organization dedicated to bringing respect, recognition and reform to independent voters. John Opdycke is president of Open Primaries, which campaigns for primary elections in which every American can vote, not just Republicans or Democrats.   John and Jackie say that independents are not moderates: They envision a much less divisive political system than the current one, and they want to play a bigger role in American democracy.  Please tell us what you think! Share your feedback in this short survey. For every survey completed we’ll plant 5 trees.  Common Ground Podcast Feedback Survey (
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 grassroots efforts, such as the one we profile in this podcast episode. 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 debate 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 "dialog".  Event 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 the Director of Ohio Freedom Action Network (OhioFAN). Please tell us what you think! Share your feedback in this short survey. For every survey completed we’ll plant 5 trees.  Common Ground Podcast Feedback Survey (
2022 was a year of surprises in politics and the world beyond. In our year-end special, "Let's Find Common Ground" podcast puts the spotlight on six interviews that we published during the past twelve months. We hear former Congressman Will Hurd discuss moderation and extremes in American politics. Author and market researcher Diane Hessan tells us what pollsters often overlook when they speak with voters. Former gun industry executive Ryan Busse reveals the key differences between responsible gun ownership and the reckless use of firearms. Co-hosts Richard Davies and Ashley-Milne Tyte also feature their conversation with a prison reformer and a corrections industry executive. Two members of Congress— one Republican, one Democrat— explain their efforts to improve how Congress works. And a leading newspaper editor and reporter discuss how they face up honestly and creatively to bias and misinformation in the news media.  Learn more at
Collaboration is seen as a given in working life. Being part of a team means cooperating with others on all kinds of projects. But the reality is few of us learn how to collaborate. And when a collaboration fails it can leave such bad scars that the people involved never want to work together again. In this episode, we speak with professor and collaboration expert Dr. Deb Mashek, author of the forthcoming book Collabor(hate): how to build incredible collaborative relationships at work (even if you’d rather work alone). Deb found that three-quarters of people have been in at least one collaboration they loathed. But she says if more of us learn some simple skills, these kinds of disasters can be avoided. She also reveals how her own journey from trailer park to Ph.D. helped her become an expert in human relationships.
The holiday season is here but many people across the country may be dreading sitting down with their nearest and dearest— all because of politics. In the first half of this episode, we discuss political differences with a father and daughter who have different ways of seeing the world. Clare Ashcraft and her dad Brian live in Ohio. He’s an engineer and a conservative. She is a liberal-leaning college student. In the second half, we hear from an expert— well-known psychologist Tania Israel, author of “Beyond Your Bubble: How to Connect Across the Political Divide: Skills and Strategies for Conversations That Work." We share a series of smart tips that aim to minimize conflict and maximize cooperation with parents, family and friends. "Let's Find Common Ground" is hosted by Ashley Milne-Tyte and Richard Davies.
Democrats feared and Republicans expected a "red wave" election, but it didn’t happen.  Why was the outcome such a surprise?  Who gets the credit and blame? How do results impact the near-term future? What are the prospects for finding common ground in Congress where both the Senate and House will have razor-thin majorities?  We discuss these questions with two of America’s most experienced political thinkers: Democratic consultant Bob Shrum and Republican strategist Mike Murphy. Both men serve as co-directors of The Center for the Political Future at the University of Southern California.  Mike Murphy is one of the Republican Party’s most successful political media consultants, having handled strategy and advertising for more than two dozen successful gubernatorial and senatorial campaigns. Bob Shrum was once described as "the most sought-after consultant in the Democratic Party," by The Atlantic Monthly. He was the strategist in over 25 winning U.S. Senate campaigns, eight successful races for governor, and numerous campaigns for Congress and statewide offices.
While many American consumers have given up their daily news habit, millions of others are now addicted to rage media— cable news and social media that push sensationalism, groupthink, and tribalism. This trend of "news bubbles" is relatively recent. Over the past 30 years, the decline of many regional newspapers has given way to a new form of slick, easy, and profitable national opinion journalism that caters to narrow segments of the population.  In this episode, we look at the current state of the news industry and ask why the media and news consumers should insist on better journalism. Our guest is Chris Stirewalt, a columnist for The Dispatch, author, and former political editor for Fox News. Chris's new book is "Broken News: Why the Media Rage Machine Divides America and How to Fight Back."
The United States has one of the highest news avoidance rates in the world. Tens of millions of Americans don't read, watch or listen to the news each day. The media are held in low regard by the public. So, is there a better way to report and analyze current events that satisfies readers' interests? We hear from Mark Sappenfield, Editor of The Christian Science Monitor, and Story Hinckley, the paper's National Political Correspondent. We're releasing this podcast less than two weeks before the midterm elections— a time when many news outlets have amped up their coverage, speculated about winners and losers, and put additional emphasis on the nation's deep partisan divides. We discuss evolving news values with The Monitor and how reporters and editors are striving to highlight constructive solutions that unite rather than divide. We also hear about election coverage and why the media need to challenge readers, build trust, and report the news truthfully. In this episode, we mention Common Ground Scorecard— a tool that helps voters learn which elected officials and candidates are seeking common ground on vital issues. The President, Vice President and every Senator, Member of Congress, and governor has a personal rating. Learn more:
Rigid polarization and political division are among the biggest challenges facing our country. Young people often feel 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 Spencer Richter, who calls himself a committed liberal, are active members of BridgeUSA, a national movement of students working to emphasize the importance of empathy, understanding, and ideological diversity. In this episode we hear about students' personal experience of cancel culture, the impact of social media on Generation Z, and why many young people actually feel that free speech can harm or threaten their safety. We also learn about efforts to find common ground, equip students with skills to find solutions across divides, and build bridges with others of different backgrounds and points of view.
Bridging Divides at Work

Bridging Divides at Work


Polarization is not just a problem for Congress and our political system, it’s also taking a toll in the workplace. Employees are falling out with each other over politics and fiery issues in the culture wars.  Organizations are trying to stem the discord. Some have banned political talk at the office. Others have taken a public stand on an issue of the day in an effort to ‘do the right thing’.  Simon Greer, our guest on this show, says edicts like this won’t help, though more thoughtful approaches can. Simon is the founder of Bridging the Gap, a group that helps college students develop the skills to communicate well across differences. He also consults with organizations who face these same challenges among their workforces. He explains how he went from ‘bomb thrower’ to bridge builder over the course of his career, tells stories from his work with employers and employees, and outlines the very personal reason for his belief in the humanity of the other person.
Our guests on today’s show are part of the school shooting generation. Each grew up with active shooter drills and concerns that their school could be next, concepts that were unthinkable when most of today’s politicians were in the classroom.  Sophie Holtzman and Jackson Hoppe are sophomores at George Washington University. They are also joint vice presidents of their college’s chapter of BridgeUSA, a group that brings students of different ideologies together to have open discussions on political issues.  Sophie, a liberal, and Jackson, a conservative, share stories of being raised in the South, their experiences with guns, and how listening to others’ opinions on the topic is a vital first step to finding common ground.
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Jun 24th


looking at the episode descriptions i see only one sided guests. why not open up to other views? why not have someone on who believes that "black lives matter" is a rascist group? why not have someone on who believes the "climate Crisis" is a joke. why not have someone on to explain why vote by mail is full.of fraud? more view points are always better.

Jul 31st
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