Commentary Common Ground, Common Good

  • How unlikely partners came together on a Maine river

    Decades of dam building had decimated migratory fish populations that had long sustained local wildlife and people on the Penobscot River. After years of contentious battles, local stakeholders struck a deal. Today, for the first time in 200 years, river life is rebounding. And the power company has not lost any hydropower generation.

  • Japan and South Korea: Don’t let history dictate the future

    Addressing a sensitive past will let these two key democratic powers secure a tense region – and US interests. President Obama's sit-down with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-hye may have been the start of a needed rapprochement.

  • Tunisia’s model for bridging political and social divides

    When any country enters a transition out of war or dictatorship, its citizens are full of hope that their leaders, economies, and societies will change. Yet too few transitions deliver. As seen in post-apartheid South Africa, the key to democratic transitions is political and social inclusiveness.

  • How the American people would fix Social Security

    Supposedly the public's inability to face the realities of Social Security makes it a 'third rail' for Congress. But when a recent survey presented Democratic and Republican voters with policy options, the majority clearly agreed on solutions to end the Social Security shortfall.

  • The education reform compromise heard round the US

    To fix New Haven’s failing schools, the teachers union and mayor forged a rare compromise – a model for school districts and unions across the country in how to confront major challenges facing public education, without blaming each other, resisting change, or fighting in the streets.

  • How grass-roots peace can take hold in South Sudan

    Bringing peace to conflict-torn South Sudan will require more than negotiated cease-fires and UN aid. Key community leaders – especially women activists and church pastors – must work for local unity.

  • How to build peace, one teenager at a time

    At Seeds of Peace, we bring kids from conflict zones together to learn to see each other and their differences in a new light. Now, our first generation of alumni are emerging as leaders of their societies and leveraging their experience to build peace.

  • Civil discourse that doesn’t taste like broccoli

    Neither a barrage of facts nor a sense of civic duty alone will make people reexamine their positions. As we've learned at The Village Square, civil discourse requires friendship, humor – and irreverence.

  • The potential of local conflict resolution in Darfur

    Arab nomads in Darfur have organized interlocking conflict resolution networks to address local disputes before they escalate. Their work could help bring lasting peace to a region plagued by violence. But it requires stronger international support to fulfill its promise.

  • Polar bear diplomacy: Where the US and Russia can agree

    On an arctic island 250 miles from the nearest Siberian village, US and Russian scientists are collaborating on wildlife research. Their work proves: Conservation transcends geopolitics.

  • How Myanmar can combat ethnic conflict

    Myanmar holds the key to improving the lives of millions within its borders and beyond. With international support, it must work to promote social unity and empower and protect minorities. Then it can be an example for a region that has too often failed to uphold pluralist norms.

  • Climate change is divisive. Climate solutions are not.

    People of all stripes – whether green-living gurus or thrifty penny pinchers, conservatives or liberals – want to use less energy. Now, technology and behavioral science are giving them the tools to do it.

  • What I learned as a liberal talking head on Fox News

    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.


Photos of the Week Photos of the week 12/11

USS Nimitz Logistics Spc. 3rd Class Michael Zegarra swings his wife Caterina into the air as they embrace on the pier at Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton, Wash., on Dec. 10. The USS Nimitz returned from a six-month deployment.

More Common Ground, Common Good
  • Syria: What – and who – it will take to end the war

    The Geneva II peace talks on Syria set to begin next week should lay the groundwork for a diplomatic deal to end the country's three-year civil war. In spite of differences, Russian, US, and Iranian strategic interests can align, but Iran must be allowed to play a role in negotiations.

  • 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.