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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 4:09 AM
Updated: Jan 11, 2019 4:09 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.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 941120

Reported Deaths: 15315
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1282511983
Lake633041097
Allen53609758
Hamilton43827447
St. Joseph41906590
Elkhart33545490
Vanderburgh30383448
Tippecanoe26820249
Johnson23609417
Hendricks22250341
Porter21737346
Clark17409229
Madison17366384
Vigo16108281
Monroe14466191
LaPorte14311239
Delaware14070221
Howard13865272
Kosciusko11418135
Hancock10841165
Warrick10674177
Bartholomew10542168
Floyd10430205
Wayne9959226
Grant9130204
Morgan8865160
Boone8389111
Dubois7710123
Dearborn762289
Henry7608130
Noble7413101
Marshall7362128
Cass7176117
Lawrence6957153
Shelby6584111
Jackson656785
Gibson6156107
Harrison603786
Huntington600195
Montgomery5805105
DeKalb574291
Knox5494104
Miami542488
Putnam536768
Clinton533665
Whitley524953
Steuben497268
Wabash483592
Jasper479160
Jefferson470092
Ripley454277
Adams444068
Daviess4169108
Scott405865
White391857
Clay390857
Greene388392
Decatur385296
Wells384983
Fayette374278
Posey359941
Jennings353156
Washington332047
LaGrange321375
Spencer317835
Fountain316555
Randolph312888
Sullivan307449
Owen283863
Starke280064
Fulton277553
Orange275859
Jay254837
Perry251652
Carroll243729
Franklin239338
Rush234130
Vermillion233250
Parke219820
Tipton209655
Pike207639
Blackford168334
Pulaski163551
Crawford146018
Newton144345
Benton142516
Brown135346
Martin128217
Switzerland125810
Warren114616
Union96911
Ohio79711
Unassigned0479

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1365800

Reported Deaths: 21596
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1522221560
Cuyahoga1344852327
Hamilton976051320
Montgomery670271141
Summit562091047
Lucas50900863
Butler47417655
Stark41580976
Lorain31567532
Warren30001331
Mahoning26963639
Clermont25628292
Lake24585417
Delaware22313145
Licking20487241
Fairfield20420221
Greene20309272
Trumbull19866509
Medina19796287
Clark17879328
Richland16314234
Portage16130229
Wood15681208
Allen14115256
Miami13786253
Muskingum12641152
Wayne11946238
Columbiana11708241
Tuscarawas10953269
Marion10725148
Pickaway10465129
Scioto10324127
Erie9747171
Ross9436176
Lawrence8755125
Hancock8458141
Ashtabula8317185
Geauga8173156
Belmont8140187
Jefferson7527172
Huron7423128
Union731851
Washington7183120
Athens697165
Sandusky6848134
Darke6756136
Knox6671122
Seneca6358137
Ashland5948113
Auglaize587188
Shelby5727101
Brown564171
Mercer557890
Defiance5483101
Madison543371
Crawford5425114
Highland541581
Fulton530683
Clinton525580
Logan512182
Preble4994110
Putnam4833106
Guernsey470364
Williams459282
Perry449852
Champaign445964
Ottawa436884
Jackson425362
Pike388843
Morrow383851
Fayette375853
Coshocton374766
Adams360675
Hardin359069
Gallia347356
Holmes3259108
Henry324668
Van Wert314670
Hocking301769
Wyandot280658
Carroll262652
Paulding242243
Meigs213942
Monroe189749
Noble169340
Morgan165829
Harrison157940
Vinton138118
Unassigned05
Fort Wayne
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Angola
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Huntington
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Decatur
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Van Wert
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