How would such a bipartisan administration operate? As Democratic strategist Bob Beckel and I have written in our book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War in America," the first step is to agree that a problem exists which government can fix. Most of the partisanship in Washington never reaches the first step. Each side impugns the motives of the other. Each side refuses to allow the other to succeed, fearing electoral benefits to the other party. This is a prescription for failure on all levels, foreign and domestic.
Our second recommended step is to take the best ideas for solving the problem from both sides without compromising the principles of either party. Take poverty. Bob and I agree there is a role for government and the private sector in helping the poor. We both like micro loans popularized by Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus and we agree that government can guarantee them. If the objective is to reduce poverty and encourage self-reliance, rather than to score ideological points that benefit a tiny few, people can use micro loans to start small businesses and emerge from poverty.
Other consensus positions can be reached on issues from abortion, to taxes and government spending, if the goals are first agreed upon and each side believes it is contributing to actual problem-solving instead of playing political games.
Most of the country practices compromise in their business, social and personal relationships and wonders why government can't do the same. It can if it is liberated from crass partisanship. While reserving the right to label Monday's meeting a sham if it proves to be so, I prefer to encourage the stated intentions of the conveners and participants, because a serious attempt to reach common ground is in the nation's best interests.
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