Finding common ground in politics

January 29, 2010 at 11:38 pm Leave a comment

Columnists: Partisan war destroying US

Columnists Bob Beckel and Cal Thomas — the first a liberal, the second a conservative — talked to The Chamber/Southwest Louisiana on Thursday about finding common ground.

“Partisanship is not really a bad thing — polarization is,” said Thomas. “We do this to show people that there is a place to meet in the middle.”

Beckel and Thomas, coauthors of the 2008 book “Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America,” spoke at the chamber’s banquet.

Beckel began his career as a Democratic strategist, working on presidential campaigns and later for the State Department. Thomas was a reporter for NBC News, then went on be a columnist and radio host. The two met eight years ago, as Beckel was coming off hard times, recovering from alcoholism. “Cal was the first person to offer me any help, even though we had completely different points of view,” Beckel said.

While they served as commentators for Fox News, Beckel said, they noticed how contributors spent the entire time screaming at each other.

“We knew there had to be another way to get things done,” he said.

They pitched their column, “Common Ground,” to USA Today, saying that through civil discussion they could bring their opposite points of view together.

“Politicians don’t seem to realize that common ground is good politics,” Beckel said. “Until then, they’ll keep getting knocked in and out of power.”

He said he and Thomas have spoken to “hundreds” of audiences about compromise and use every opportunity to embarrass their respective parties.

“We’re agitators, and we intend to keep agitating until politicians start to get back to understanding that what they do is about the people,” Beckel said.


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