The Art of Finding Common Ground for Common Good

We live in divided times. It is imperative that we rediscover our essential unity as American people. Differences of opinion are to be expected in a diverse, pluralistic society such as ours. These differences, when presented in thoughtful conversation and engagement, can lead us to deeper truths and to common ground.

We have forgotten the art of respectful and open discourse, of true listening, and of discovering what others can teach us, regardless of their political affiliations, religions, philosophical perspectives, or anything else. 

We must recover the ability to work together across the aisle to accomplish meaningful legislation that is for the common good. I promise to listen to my constituents and colleagues, and I promise to run my campaign on the premise that thoughtful discourse will lead to common ground and common-sense solutions.

To that end, I am committed to the six values of Common Good Communication: 

1. EXAMPLE: I will demonstrate integrity and lead by example in my communication, in public and in private. When I fall short, I’ll admit it, apologize, and reaffirm my commitment to lead by example.

2. CURIOSITY: I will show uncommon curiosity by asking honest questions, staying open to new information, seeking to understand others as I would want to be understood, and listening with empathy.

3. CLARITY: I won’t hold back, speak half-truths, be intentionally vague, or attempt to deceive. I will self-report my feelings and my underlying values whenever possible.

4. DECENCY: I will strive to show genuine courtesy toward everyone, especially when we disagree. I will not mock, call names, or dehumanize any person or group. I will establish and uphold ground rules for respectful conversation whenever possible.

5. FAIRNESS: I will practice basic fairness in these ways:

- I will not assume the worst motives in my opponents.

- I will acknowledge the upsides and downsides of all positions.

- I will praise my counterparts when they deserve it, and challenge my allies when they deserve it.

- I will notice who isn’t at the table, and I will do my part to be sure they are included and heard.

6. PERSISTENCE:  I expect this work to be hard and I know I will make mistakes. I will keep engaging through our differences, be resilient after failure, and always seek the common good.

I have spent the last decade holding Pub Theology sessions, gathering regularly with people of varying religious and political views, and discussing meaning and faith, current events and politics. I have learned that by listening to varying perspectives I grow in my own understandings and views. I have also discovered the human beings from all backgrounds and walks of life invariably have more in common than they previously imagined, when they take the time to truly listen to each other. 

I plan to continue this throughout my campaign and as your representative. That’s why we’re launching this campaign with a listening tour across the district, and will be holding Pub Democracy events open to the public for the remainder of my campaign. As an elected official, I promise to hold at least one town hall every single month in which I am privileged to serve as your representative. 

Let’s elevate the dialogue and relearn how to work together!