Voters have found common ground. It’s time for our elected officials to do the same.
Published on August 16, 2023
The responsibility to govern belongs not just to the party in charge, but to every elected member of the government. There will always be politics at play, but those politics have become so highly charged and so toxic it has impeded the ability of our government to function in the best interest of the American people.
The 2023 downgrade of the U.S. debt rating by Fitch Ratings is a prime example of the real world consequences that result from the lack of effective governance by our elected officials. Fitch pointed to a “steady deterioration in standards of governance over the last 20 years” on fiscal and debt matters.
Center Forward’s mission is to create space for elected officials on both sides of the aisle to stay true to their beliefs, while also coming together to forge compromises to move the country forward. There are far too many important issues before our leaders that impact the lives of everyday Americans for Republicans and Democrats to merely run to their corners, refusing to participate in active bipartisan dialogue.
There is much more consensus among the American people, regardless of political affiliation, than many of our elected officials would have us believe.
Only when ideas are discussed in an open and honest manner by policymakers on both sides of the aisle do policies emerge that endure the test of time. From energy security and immigration to health care and infrastructure, we are all better off when lawmakers work together and everyone has a seat at the table. Some say this type of “profound pragmatism” is a lofty goal, even unrealistic. But history tells us time and again, that it is not. As recently as 2022, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law came to pass because Democrats and Republicans in the House, the Senate, and the White House came together to forge a bill that addresses our nation’s crumbling infrastructure in a meaningful way.
On most issues, simply having open dialogue and constructive debate would allow policymakers to bridge ideological differences and find compromise on policies related to job growth and renewable energy adoption, balancing economic considerations and environmental goals.
However even when examining issues, with often visceral partisan leanings in Washington like the environment, what politicians are missing is where America really stands. A poll conducted by Colorado College that spanned more than a decade found that 7 in 10 voters see the changing climate as a serious issue, and more than 60% of voters said they’d like their members of Congress to prioritize clean air and water, wildlife habitats, and recreation. This may seem interesting when 34% of voters polled identify as conservative, 41% moderate, and 22% liberal, but it is consistent with what numerous pollsters and researchers have found in looking at nearly every issue – there is much more consensus among the American people, regardless of political affiliation, than many of our elected officials would have us believe.
Colorado College Poll Highlights
Another poll conducted in 2022 by the Bipartisan Policy Center in conjunction with Morning Consult also shows there is an overwhelming appetite for Republicans and Democrats to work together, with three in four voters (76%) saying it is “very important Democrats and Republicans in Congress work together to pass bipartisan economic legislation.” The poll also showed that bipartisanship became more important to voters in the midterms, with a bipartisan majority of voters “more likely to vote for a member of Congress who finds compromise and common ground between political parties rather than a member who stands their ground and pushes their political party’s agenda.”
In order for our government to function at its best, our elected officials have to acknowledge that the voters who send them to Washington not only have found common ground themselves but also expect that they work together to do the same. Center Forward and other like-minded Americans are ready to support those who take their jobs as policymakers seriously and who sincerely want to get down to the business of governing.