Common Ground by P-HarpercollinsPubl

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									Common Ground
Author: Cal Thomas
Author: Bob Beckel
Description

Inspired by their popular USA Today column, conservative Cal Thomas and liberal Bob Beckel show
politicians of both stripes how to get beyond partisanship, restore civility, and move our country forward.
Thomas and Beckel are a unique pair in today's political climate—pundits from opposite sides who not
only talk to each other but work together to find common ground on some of the most divisive issues
facing us, from the war in Iraq to gay marriage to the Patriot Act. Common Ground unmasks the
hypocrisy of many of the issues, organizations, and individuals who created and deepened the partisan
divide at the center of American politics, and makes a strategic case for why this bickering must
stop.Throughout, Thomas and Beckel explode conventional wisdom and offer surprising new
conclusions:The Red State/Blue State divide: Myth!A "common ground" presidential candidate can win in
2008: Reality!"Polarizers" like Ann Coulter and Michael Moore are the future of political debate: Myth!
Major-party politics faces extinction: Reality! These guys should know. For years Beckel and Thomas
contributed to the climate of polarization in Washington . . . and they admit it. "We're two guys who spent
a lot of years in the polarizing business, but on opposing sides," they write. "We helped write the game
plan, and we have participated in everything from getting money out of true believers to appearing on
television to help spread the contentious message. In many cases, we wrote the message. We know the
gig, and it's just about up."In this much-needed book, Thomas and Beckel go beyond their column to offer
a sobering overview of the current political divide and its corrosive effect on us all.They also explain how
bipartisanship and consensus politics are not only good for the day-to-day democratic process but
essential for our nation's future well-being.Entertaining and informative, funny and healing, Common
Ground is must reading for all concerned citizens.
Excerpt

The People vs. The Polarization of American PoliticsPolitics—I don't know why, but they seem to have a
tendency to separate us, to keep us from one another, while nature is always and ever making efforts to
bring us together.—Sean O'CaseyVoters will tolerate polarization and extreme partisanship to a point,
especially if it doesn't affect them directly. But by 2006, polarization was paralyzing government. It came
at a time when the country was deeply divided over the war in Iraq, and facing a myriad of problems at
home. After years of gridlock and extreme partisanship, the public had had enough; polarization ceased
to be an insider's game, and voters rebelled in a rare "wave" election.Wave elections are ones in which
the outcome significantly alters the political balance of power. By the fall of 2006, politicians (particularly
incumbents) finally caught up with the extent of the voters' anger. Republican incumbents, realizing that
their party's strategy of maximizing the base, which had worked in 2002 and 2004, would not work in
2006, tried to persuade voters that they were not partisan extremists. Partisans, yes; extremists,
no.Challengers in congressional races across the country attacked incumbents as members of a "do-
nothing" Congress, and they put the blame squarely on polarization. Not to be outdone, even some
incumbents who had engaged in the most outrageous polarizing preached the wisdom of "seeking
common ground solutions." To enhance this message, candidates reached out to the two most exciting
and sought-after politicians in the country at the time, Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Barack Obama
(D-IL). Neither was on the ballot, but both made the evils of polarization a central ingredient of their
message. Both are running for president in 2008, and there is no sign that their message will change.The
reelection of Connecticut senator Joe Lieberman in 2006 as an independent provided one of the first
campaign tests specifically aimed at polarization...and polarization lost. Paradoxically, polarization had
forced Lieberman to run as an independent because the Democratic Party denied him the party
nomination. For partisans, it wasn't enough that Lieberman had been loyal to their Democratic Party and
most of its issues for three decades, or that he had been the party's vice-presidential nominee in 2000.
That he differed with them on one issue—Iraq—was enough for the polarizers to dump him.(We are not
suggesting that tenure entitled Lieberman to the nomination, or that the war in Iraq, especially among
Democrats, was not a sufficient reason for a primary challenge. But, as we shall see, it was the
polarizing tactics in the primary that were destructive and all too commonplace in today's politics.)
Lieberman got his revenge by making party extremists an issue. He won the general election with support
from Democrats, independents, and—amazingly—a majority of Republicans. Thirty percent of the antiwar
voters, according to Lieberman, voted for him. For these voters, polarizing tactics that attempted to drive
a decent man from office were as immoral as the war in Iraq. For several years, many mainstream
Republicans had questioned if their party was too associated with religious fundamentalists. In the
aftermath of the Lieberman primary, many Democratic Party leaders were raising the same questions
about the party's association with a resurgent, cyber-driven left.Next door in Rhode Island, incumbent
Lincoln Chafee, the Senate's most liberal Republican, was challenged by conservative activists who
wanted to...
Author Bio
Cal Thomas
Cal Thomas writes a twice-weekly syndicated column that appears in more than 500 newspapers across
the country, and he is a frequent panelist on the Fox News Watch program. He lives in Arlington,
Virginia.Bob Beckel is one of Washington's leading political analysts and a long-time political consultant.
He has been a guest host for Larry King Live and the cohost (with Lynne Cheney) on Crossfire Sunday,
and he is the Democratic political analyst for the Fox News Channel. He is professor of political strategy
at George Washington University. He lives in Bethesda, Maryland.


Bob Beckel
Cal Thomas writes a twice-weekly syndicated column that appears in more than 500 newspapers across
the country, and he is a frequent panelist on the Fox News Watch program. He lives in Arlington,
Virginia.Bob Beckel is one of Washington's leading political analysts and a long-time political consultant.
He has been a guest host for Larry King Live and the cohost (with Lynne Cheney) on Crossfire Sunday,
and he is the Democratic political analyst for the Fox News Channel. He is professor of political strategy
at George Washington University. He lives in Bethesda, Maryland.

								
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