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Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin endorses Pete Ricketts, Republican candidate for governor of Nebraska, during a news conference April 4 at the Heartland Events Center in Grand Island, Neb. Op-ed contributor Sally Kohn writes: 'I've learned that the ideological labels that feel so firm and unyielding among the professional political class are rather malleable among ordinary Americans.' (Barrett Stinson/The Grand Island Independent/AP)

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For a radical progressive who once harbored negative stereotypes about folks on the right, it was a turning point for me: Though Sean Hannity or Sarah Palin and I disagree profoundly on politics – they're personable, kind, and human. If you want to persuade people, you can’t demonize them.

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Common Ground, Common Good

  • A model for hold-your-nose dealmaking in Congress

    The Murray-Ryan bipartisan budget deal was possible because of several key elements. The same approach must be applied to solving America’s ongoing, divisive fiscal problems.

  • Budget negotiators take heed: The art of the deal, according to Reagan and Tip O'Neill

    This history of bipartisan compromise between President Reagan and then-House Speaker Tip O'Neill couldn't be more relevant today. A message to Patty Murray and Paul Ryan as they forge a budget deal: the beauty of compromise is that its worst aspects can be blamed on the other party.

  • As Nigeria battles Islamist Boko Haram, an imam and pastor spread tolerance

    In Nigeria, where the Islamist militant group Boko Haram is sowing terror, an imam and a pastor team up to preach religious tolerance. The two men are former leaders of militias that once battled each other. Then they discovered forgiveness. Now, their story is a tool of persuasion.

  • Immigration reform: the politics of the possible

    Winning over House Republicans based on Senate pressure and worry over the Latino vote won’t work. The case for reform must be argued on its merits.

  • A view from Texas: Regular people work together. Why can't Congress?

    To hear Congress tell it, their constituents are demanding they take extreme positions and not compromise. But as I see it from Dallas, Texas, where I’m a blue liberal in a sea of red, regular working people have no problem cooperating with those who hold opposing views.

  • Let the public help draw voting districts

    No state has yet found a perfect solution to gerrymandering – the partisan drawing of voting districts that favors parties and incumbents. But reform efforts in states and cities point to an answer: independent redistricting commissions that rely on public input for drawing maps.

  • How 'we the people' can end gridlock in Washington

    Americans are not nearly as polarized as Congress and favor practical solutions. But the means they have for communicating with their representatives are no longer effective. That’s why we’re starting a 'Citizen Cabinet' in every district so lawmakers really know voters' views.

  • 3 ways you can have your voice better heard in Congress

    Voice of the People founder Steven Kull suggests three ways for Americans to have their voice better heard in Congress through an advisory 'Citizen Cabinet' in every congressional district.

  • To fix Washington, look to Mexico

    Mexico's President Enrique Peña Nieto’s political grand bargain among rival parties has helped usher in long-needed reforms. The US has something to learn from Mexico’s willingness to put country ahead of party.

  • Advice from Teddy Roosevelt as Congress heads toward debt, shutdown deal

    As the Senate nears a budget deal to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling, Theodore Roosevelt’s efforts to seek out fellow citizens across party lines and divisions of class, creed, and culture are a timely example for Washington's brinkmanship.

  • Persistence is key to agreeing on parks use for immigrants, long-time residents

    Nearly 30 percent of residents in the city of El Cajon in California are foreign born. Many love to use city parks but have run into scheduling clashes with established activities. A dialogue was begun to resolve the conflict. Those involved learned the importance of persistent engagement.

  • Five bipartisan fixes for US debt crisis

    Whether in the coming weeks or later, the US s going to have to grapple with its long-term debt challenge. We at the Bipartisan Policy Center suggest these five solutions – stemming from the work of prominent leaders, Republicans and Democrats – to address US debt.

  • How to break the cycle of massive teacher strikes in Mexico

    Disruptive teacher strikes are a tradition in Mexico. Students suffer most from the practice, which can end if the federal government admits to its use of excessive force against the teachers union and if the union admits that its arm-twisting tactics do more harm than good.

  • A call from Kenya's youth for unity, not reprisals, after Westgate Mall terror attack

    As former rival gang members from Nairobi's slums we know that the best response to violence is peace and unity. In the wake of the Westgate Mall terror attack, we implore people in Kenya not to respond with violence and reprisals, especially against Muslims and Somalis.

  • Germany's Merkel must unite with opposition Social Democrats

    The challenges ahead for Germany and Europe are on a grand scale. Therefore, a 'grand coalition' between German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats and the opposition Social Democrats is best for Germany and for Europe. 

  • Government shutdown? Here's an example of working together at the state level

    Last year I broke ranks with majority Democrats to work with Republicans on the Washington state budget. I got angry emails and the cold shoulder, but I helped produce a historic bipartisan budget. To find common ground, you first have to find the courage to step onto it.

  • The only US policy on Iran that will work: common ground

    A successful US policy on Iran will have to thread the needle between two camps – those who believe the US must do more to convince Iran it is wiling to compromise and those pushing for unrelenting pressure on Iran, even the threat of military strikes.

  • Video chat with 'Israel loves Iran' founder: Can Facebook meme end nuclear standoff?

    Ronny Edry's Facebook page, 'Israel loves Iran,' has become a social media sensation. In a Google+hangout interview, he explains how his page 'is changing minds.' Who knows? Maybe Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu will 'like' it.

  • Mark Kelly: After Navy Yard shooting, gun laws will protect people and gun rights

    In the wake of the Washington Navy Yard shooting, Gabby and I ask lawmakers to back broadly accepted ideas – such as expanding background checks – that address gun violence and still protect gun owners. The two aims are not mutually exclusive.

  • 3 ways to take action on gun background checks

    Americans for Responsible Solutions, founded by Mark Kelly and former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords to prevent gun violence, helps citizens push for expanded background checks that are broadly supported by Americans. Here are some easy ways to take action on their website.

  • Government shutdown? A leap of trust can seal a budget deal

    As Washington once again careens toward a government shutdown and clash over the debt ceiling, we’re hopeful that Congress and the White House can reach a budget deal. Last winter, President Obama and Speaker Boehner were actually quite close to an agreement.

  • 4 ways you can influence the debt debate

    The nonpartisan Campaign to Fix the debt offers four ways Americans can amplify their voice on the debt issue, including signing a petition.

  • Dear Readers: Welcome to 'Common Ground' and other changes in Monitor Commentary

    The Monitor's Commentary section introduces a new feature, called 'Common Ground, Common Good,' that seeks to soften polarizing debates over issues that sharply divide people. We are also reviving the popular forum, 'One Minute Debate: 3 Views,' that offers a 'third' alternative.

  • Americans must mobilize for moderation

    When I concluded that political polarization in Congress would not diminish in the short term, I decided not to seek a fourth term in the US Senate. I am taking my fight for bipartisanship outside the institution. Congress responds to pressure from citizens. We must act.

  • 8 ways you can help define a political center

    Former Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine suggests that citizens engage with established groups that are already working for political common ground. Here are eight that she recommends. 

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