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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.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 99134

Reported Deaths: 2089
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Hennepin27728936
Ramsey11209325
Dakota7724127
Anoka6343138
Stearns411925
Washington395055
Scott266333
Olmsted254428
Nobles197916
St. Louis174742
Blue Earth17437
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Clay145741
Carver14517
Rice13518
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Sherburne118514
Kandiyohi10573
Winona92318
Lyon7384
Waseca7228
Benton5683
Crow Wing56318
Steele5602
Nicollet55317
Freeborn5484
Watonwan5354
Chisago5221
Todd5142
McLeod5032
Le Sueur4804
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Otter Tail4734
Martin46211
Goodhue3929
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Pine3610
Itasca35616
Polk3344
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Becker2862
Carlton2861
Morrison2802
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Pipestone23910
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Meeker2142
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Brown1992
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Rock1841
Redwood1805
Murray1762
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Renville1638
Jackson1541
Unassigned15453
Faribault1490
Swift1451
Houston1350
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Kanabec1318
Hubbard1261
Roseau1250
Koochiching1234
Pennington1201
Lincoln1180
Stevens1071
Pope1000
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Wilkin713
Grant644
Lake610
Norman580
Marshall531
Mahnomen491
Red Lake451
Traverse360
Clearwater320
Lake of the Woods241
Kittson120
Cook70

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 88834

Reported Deaths: 1349
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk16204264
Woodbury568268
Johnson520327
Black Hawk455992
Linn4199115
Story350717
Dubuque347443
Scott312829
Dallas286038
Pottawattamie222539
Buena Vista202612
Marshall180235
Sioux17533
Wapello134557
Webster132714
Plymouth119121
Clinton115222
Muscatine113856
Crawford11176
Cerro Gordo107622
Warren9726
Jasper88334
Des Moines8249
Marion7799
Henry7774
Tama75732
Carroll7115
Lee6667
Wright6031
Dickinson5546
Boone5328
Bremer5137
Washington49311
Delaware4663
Louisa43915
Mahaska43520
Lyon3904
Jackson3683
Floyd3575
Franklin35318
Clay3504
Winneshiek3468
Benton3441
Hamilton3373
Poweshiek3278
Winnebago32514
Hardin3111
Buchanan2991
Jones2953
Kossuth2900
Butler2802
Emmet27910
Shelby2781
Sac2750
Chickasaw2741
Clayton2713
Guthrie27110
Clarke2703
Harrison2705
Cherokee2692
Allamakee2656
Cedar2561
Madison2452
Fayette2402
Grundy2294
Iowa2291
Palo Alto2140
Page2080
Hancock2032
Mills2031
Humboldt1963
Calhoun1953
Mitchell1950
Howard1937
Cass1812
Osceola1810
Pocahontas1682
Monona1671
Monroe16311
Lucas1596
Union1463
Appanoose1443
Taylor1431
Jefferson1411
Ida1352
Davis1304
Fremont1250
Van Buren1221
Keokuk1201
Worth1100
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Montgomery1005
Audubon911
Wayne893
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