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Koch network: We're rejecting partisanship in favor of problem solving

Tools are wonderful things. They can be used to tear down a house or to build one, depending on how you choo...

Posted: Jan 11, 2019 3:09 AM
Updated: Jan 11, 2019 3:09 AM

Tools are wonderful things. They can be used to tear down a house or to build one, depending on how you choose to use them.

The same is true of politics.

Government and public administration

Politics

You can employ partisanship to tear down your opponent. Or you can use the political tools at your disposal differently, and build something.

As Americans, we need to find a way to make better use of politics and rebuild our country, together.

That means overcoming the barriers created by unchecked partisanship and its emotional parent, tribalism, or what I'll call factionalism.

For several years, like many others, we accepted that to be effective in politics, partisan engagement was the only real way to achieve policy reform. But not anymore. The reality is partisanship too often gets in the way of achieving what's possible. There's got to be a better way, and our network is committed to find one. We're already helping bridge the divide on a host of issues, including but not limited to criminal justice reform, immigration and combating the opioid epidemic -- and we're working to identify more. We invite you to join us.

To get there, we have to start by recognizing that factionalism has deep roots and is not restricted to the realm of politics. Sadly, it pervades the culture, seeping into and draining the joy from sport, and cluttering up civic life -- our schools, our businesses and workplaces, even our sense of belonging in our communities.

But for all our apparent attachment to factionalism, this virulent form of partisanship is not solving problems. It's exacerbating them.

To take just one glaring example, let's look at education, where the debate has become so divisive that it's harming our children's futures.

The factions pick sides -- public vs. private schools, traditional vs. charter, college vs. vocational training. Then they enter the ring and slug away.

The result is that both sides are smeared, their views distorted and demonized, and their supporters more entrenched and more adversarial. And our children are left with a failing status quo: low job satisfaction for teachers; declining engagement as students move through the grades and an increasing disconnect between what they learn and who they could be; and families who sometimes aren't sure which way to turn.

These kinds of debates sorely miss the larger point: We should not be fighting about where our kids go to school; we should be figuring out which type of education is best for each student and best fits their unique needs.

It's a model of problem-solution rather than problem-blame.

This is good policy and should be good politics. And it happens to be the way most Americans think about issues.

When asked in a recent survey how lawmakers should meet the challenge of a politically divided Congress in 2019, by a margin of 56% to 34%, respondents said Democrats and Republicans should work together and find common ground. And Americans share plenty of common ground on issues such as education, immigration and corporate welfare, even as legislators have wrestled unsuccessfully with them.

While that's what people said they want to see, what they said they expect to see is the opposite. By more than two-to-one, those surveyed said they believe divided government will remain divided, with the White House and Democrats in Congress failing to cooperate.

So we know the right thing to do, yet seemingly can't bring ourselves to believe it will happen, or find a way to make it happen. Is something wrong with our brains? Sort of. But like our politics, our brains are fixable.

The growing scientific field of neuroplasticity demonstrates the human brain's powerful potential for transformation, according to Norman Doidge, author of "The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science."

History is replete with examples, but we don't have to search through musty texts to find them. Just take a look at what Congress, that much maligned institution, just accomplished.

Lawmakers put aside fear and partisanship to pass by wide margins in both chambers the FIRST STEP Act, which will expand second chances for formerly incarcerated individuals and help them succeed when they re-enter their communities.

It was a refreshing example of getting government institutions working again to solve problems and make a real difference in people's lives. It certainly did for Matthew Charles. The Tennessee man had been free for two years, then was ordered back to prison after another judge sided with prosecutors who argued he had not served the required mandatory minimum. US District Judge Aleta Trauger cited the new law as the reason she set Charles free. On his release, Charles talked about the dark cloud that had been hanging over his head, but noted, "today, that dark cloud has evaporated."

That bipartisan victory can be an example going forward.

Rather than lean in on factionalism, let's lean in on the areas where there is wide agreement. The way the debate is often presented, you might be surprised to learn that there are actually quite a few such areas -- if we choose to recognize and act on them.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 30900

Reported Deaths: 1111
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds249840
DeSoto159416
Madison130034
Jones112449
Neshoba98871
Rankin93412
Harrison91211
Lauderdale90979
Forrest86942
Scott77115
Jackson62216
Copiah60215
Washington5849
Leake57819
Holmes55341
Lee54718
Wayne54513
Oktibbeha54126
Warren51518
Yazoo5096
Leflore48751
Grenada4835
Lowndes48313
Lincoln46034
Lamar4587
Pike43112
Monroe40130
Lafayette3914
Sunflower3727
Attala36023
Covington3565
Panola3506
Newton3399
Bolivar33414
Simpson3173
Adams31118
Pontotoc2866
Tate28310
Marion28111
Chickasaw27718
Claiborne27410
Noxubee2638
Jasper2626
Winston2616
Pearl River25432
Clay25010
Marshall2323
Smith21811
Clarke20724
Union2079
Coahoma2016
Walthall1995
Kemper17914
Lawrence1772
Yalobusha1707
Carroll16511
Humphreys1479
Tallahatchie1364
Itawamba1358
Montgomery1322
Calhoun1304
Tippah13011
Hancock12813
Webster12710
Jefferson Davis1114
Prentiss1083
Jefferson1073
Greene1058
Tunica1003
Wilkinson949
Amite912
George883
Tishomingo801
Quitman760
Choctaw744
Alcorn692
Perry664
Stone651
Franklin452
Sharkey370
Benton360
Issaquena91
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 44375

Reported Deaths: 984
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson5221152
Montgomery4127103
Mobile4080134
Tuscaloosa228842
Marshall171110
Madison14307
Lee138437
Shelby128423
Morgan11025
Walker93924
Elmore92514
Franklin89514
Dallas8809
Baldwin8649
Etowah73913
DeKalb7195
Butler63328
Chambers62927
Autauga60712
Tallapoosa59169
Russell5520
Unassigned50323
Houston4964
Limestone4950
Lauderdale4906
Lowndes47221
Cullman4524
Pike4295
Colbert3956
St. Clair3822
Coffee3772
Bullock36910
Covington3587
Calhoun3545
Escambia3506
Barbour3492
Hale31121
Talladega3097
Marengo30211
Wilcox2918
Dale2880
Sumter28512
Clarke2746
Jackson2732
Winston2583
Chilton2462
Blount2351
Monroe2352
Pickens2356
Marion22413
Conecuh2097
Randolph2069
Choctaw19512
Macon1949
Bibb1901
Greene1868
Perry1771
Henry1343
Crenshaw1253
Washington1097
Lawrence1080
Cherokee977
Geneva800
Lamar771
Fayette701
Clay652
Coosa581
Cleburne361
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