We've been taught by those running the show in our political processes to focus exclusively on the things that divide us. It's time to identify our common ground and make progress towards shared prosperity.
Here we explore six essential questions at the heart of establishing and focusing on Common Ground. Don’t just read this brief; engage with it, providing feedback along the way. Your voice will shape the conversation, define the issues, and help the community drive meaningful change across our nation.
Where do we stand?
Common Goals and Shared Values
There are many things Americans disagree about – often passionately. However, we also share important core values and aspirations across the political spectrum – from a commitment to free speech to a desire for the American Dream to survive and thrive for future generations. The problem isn’t diversity of opinion – that’s something to be celebrated in a democracy – it’s that we’re focusing too much on what divides us rather than what unites us. This divide and conquer approach might “work” for politicians, but it’s undermining American prosperity by ramping up gridlock and derailing efforts to address our biggest economic problems.
Are you onboard? Join the movement:
Where are we headed?
A glimpse at our future
Right now we’re heading in the wrong direction – and the forces pushing us that way show no signs of abating. For example, politicians on both the left and the right will continue to pander to their partisan bases as long as it wins elections and staves off primary challenges. Meanwhile, special interests are doing just fine with the status quo – a world in which the big issues are ignored and their narrow agenda is front and center. This means the two dominant players in today’s Washington have no real incentive to change the game. Therefore, the only way to address this dangerous trajectory is for new players to come off the sidelines and stand together for authentic broad-based prosperity. Whether or not that happens is ultimately up to citizens like you.
Watch our video to learn more
What's at stake?
Realizing our potential
If we keep accentuating what divides us and ignoring what we have in common the ability to solve our biggest economic challenges will continue to allude us. Undermining American competitiveness is only possible if it’s an “inside job” – and that’s exactly what’s happening. A house divided against itself might be able to stand, but it absolutely can’t live up to its potential and maintain global leadership. The continued success of the American Experiment requires both shared purpose and a respect for differing perspectives on how to achieve it – and these crucial ingredients are in short supply. We’re competing against powerful nations that know what they want and why – and we can’t afford to just keep pointing fingers and remain adrift.
What's Holding Up Progress?
Hear from the experts
Some blame the political system designed by our nation’s founders for putting common purpose beyond reach and blocking progress on our biggest challenges, but that’s a cop out and sells this country short. Sure it takes longer to reach consensus in a democracy – we don’t have a few autocrats to making all the calls. In free societies, broad coalitions need to be built to address complex issues – particularly when they make powerful special interests nervous. So what’s keeping us from gaining traction on the economic issues that matter most to this country’s future? As we mentioned above, the current political system is focused on two core constituencies and their priorities – neither of which represents the majority of the American people. Political partisans and special interests have a right to be heard, but not to the exclusion of everyone else and the best interests of the nation as a whole. A related problem is that mainstream citizens don’t have the same opportunities right now to speak out. Partisans and special interests have built a robust infrastructure to influence Washington and government at every level. This leaves us in a situation in which we’re much closer to a tyranny of the minority than the tyranny of the majority our founders feared. But until more of us step up, say what we want and hold our leaders accountable – those who do will continue to call the shots.
What are the core
issues & challenges?
A multifaceted approach to reform
- Define Common Ground
- Get Specific
- Separate the What and How
- Put A Stake In The Ground
- Where the How Comes In
- It’s time to catalogue and celebrate what the majority of U.S. citizens agree on. This is likely to include bedrock ideas like the American Dream, authentic Free Enterprise, American Ingenuity and Fair Play. Learn more
- We need to get explicit about our shared values to confirm we’re really all on the same page. This will involve developing definitions and being specific on what would constitute success for each one. Learn more
- Too often we derail efforts to address issues we all care deeply about by confusing the goals and the means. Of course the path we take to achieve our goals matters enormously, but the starting point must be deciding where we want to head together not arguing about how to get there. Learn more
- At this point we can define economic priorities that are shared across the political spectrum - an authentic American Prosperity Agenda to serve as both a guide for our elected officials and a report card we can use to evaluate them. Learn more
- The goal here isn’t to decide which approaches are good or bad, but to make the full range of options and rationales available to everyone from elected officials to mainstream citizens. This will provide a tool kit to help unleash our “laboratories of democracy” at the national, state and local level. Learn more
How can you help move
the nation forward?
A call to every American
Without your help and the support of citizens like you we’ll never move far enough or fast enough on education. What can you do today to help?